Happy Birthday Derek Bell

Derek Bell picture
Derek Bell at Monza, 1983

Derek Bell celebrated his 70th birthday on 31 October 2011. Born in Pinner, Middlesex, Great Britain in 1941, Bell is considered to be one of the most versatile and popular racing drivers of his time.

Derek Bell began his racing career with Lotus in 1964. In Formula 1 he then took his place on the starting grid for Ferrari in 1969. In the 1971 season he drove the Porsche 917 and 908/03 racing cars for the Porsche-Gulf team, forming a successful driver duo with Jo Siffert. This was followed by appearances in the Porsche 934 and 935 in 1976 and 1977 before Derek Bell took his place on the Le Mans starting grid as a works driver in the 924 Carrera GT.

In 1981, together with Jacky Ickx in the Porsche 936/81 Spyder, he won the first of his total of four Le Mans overall victories in a Porsche. 1982 saw the beginning of the Group C era with the Porsche 956 during which time Bell made his mark as one of the most successful endurance drivers of all time. Together with drivers such as Jacky Ickx, Stefan Bellof and Hans-Joachim-Stuck, he not merely won numerous overall victories in the Types 956 and 962 but also the World Sportscar Championship in 1985 and 1986.

Matthias Muller, Porsche AG’s Chairman of the Board of Management has this to say about the birthday boy: “Derek Bell made motorsport history with Porsche. Whether it was in a 917, 936 or 956 – he was always one of the fastest and above all most reliable drivers. Derek Bell won the 24 Hours of Le Mans four times for Porsche. He won the world championship twice. For that we owe him our gratitude and great respect.”

Derek Bell remains in close contact with Porsche to this very day, constantly undertaking ambassadorial tasks for the Stuttgart-based sportscar manufacturer, such as at the Oldtimer Grand Prix at the Nurburgring or at this year’s Corso to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the car. There’s no question that Derek Bell also remained faithful to the Porsche brand off the race track: To this very day he can be seen on Britain’s roads driving a 1981 vintage Porsche 924 Carrera GTS.

[Source: Porsche AG]

Show Comments (4)

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  1. Awesome. Happy Birthday Sir Derek. I was unfortunately a bit young to have been watching him in his heyday, but I’ve enjoyed videos since. Many happy returns and many more!

  2. Had the occasion to chat him up at Amelia this year. Super nice guy that was more than happy to listen to my ramblings. Happy Birthday!

  3. Who knew? That Derek was a Pinnerite as am I. I had inhabited the ‘village’ for 3 years before Derek made his appearance. I’m curious how long he lived there and where he went to school. I, too, had a bit of an association with Lotus after meeting Colin Bennett (Sales Manager Lotus – late ’50s, early 60s) whilst I attended college. Colin lived north of Pinner, may be a mile or so. Colin introduced me to Sevens, Elevens and the Elite. I left for north America in ’65 and have lived in USA and Canada since then. I saw Derek race on occasion at Mosport.
    Anyway, Happy Birthday Derek. Wish you many more.

  4. Hello again Derek,
    Being one of your biggest fans and from Bognor Regis ! Our paths have crossed a few times over the years Last time was at the Peabody in Orlando 2006?
    Happy Birthday Derek. May you have many more.