Motor Sport Magazine reports that Derek Bell is “… the English
gentleman who’s scored more sports car wins than even he can
remember, although no one will ever forget his record at LeMans
So who is Derek Bell? He is “quintessentially, an Englishman.” He
has had great success in U.S. auto racing, his wife Misti is American,
and he spends much time at his home located in Boca Raton, Florida.
He has captured many of his victories driving German race cars and
he has been a works driver for Ferrari. However, there is no denying
his thoroughly British approach to life. This involves professionalism
and a will to win combined with an old-fashion belief in friendly good
manners towards team mates, racing competitors, and spectators.
How has Bell’s talent and approach to life paid off? Well, for starters,
he has won five LeMans 24 Hours, three Daytona 24 Hours, and two
World Drivers’ Championships. So far, his racing career has lasted
46 years. When asked if he has retired yet, Bell indicated that he probably
has. However, after a moment, the thought of retiring is quickly gone
as he discusses that he will be racing a Porsche 917 at Laguna Seca this
It is surprising how many of Bell’s fellow racers and even team
mates died while racing. Additionally, Bell endured numerous race car
mechanical failures from gear boxes that packed up to engine blow ups
and even cars catching on fire. However, much of his success goes back
to professionalism and plain old hard work.
In the world of racing, Bell has seen it all. Once he was speeding
down a straight away and a guy was laying down in the middle of the
race track. It was the actor Steve McQueen with a camera trying to
get a better shot for a movie.
Bell states, “To be a successful race endurance driver, you have to
temper your personal ambitions with the requirements of the team.
That’s how it works, and you must accept that from the first,” Thus,
his natural ability to work well with people under pressure such as
team-mates, team bosses, engineers, mechanics, combined with his
fast driving (but not the egotism or arrogance of some contemporary
race car drivers) has resulted in him being the most successful British
long distance race car driver ever.
Derek Bell – a race car icon and an even greater chap!
Kyle Busch is the author of “Drive the Best for the Price…” He
welcomes your comments or car questions at his auto web site: