Former F1 driver and sports car ace Derek Bell is sharing his 69th birthday with Toro Rosso driver Sébastien Buemi, who turns 22 today.
Encouraged by his stepfather to take up racing, Bell graduated to Formula 3 in 1965, achieving several wins before moving to Formula 2 in 1968, where his performances caught the eye of Enzo Ferrari, who appointed Bell into the team to make his debut at that year’s Italian Grand Prix.
Bell would retire from both it and his next appearance in the United States, and he was out of F1 until called up to run McLaren’s four-wheel-drive M9A in its only outing at the 1969 British Grand Prix.
He managed a single appearance in a Tom Wheatcroft-backed Brabham at the 1970 Belgian GP, before returning to the grid again, picking up his sole F1 point with sixth at the penultimate round at Watkins Glen driving for Surtees.
Subsequent seasons were spent alternating between Surtees and Tecno, but Bell’s role was very much in guest drive capacities while his reputation began to build in the field of sports cars.
In 1975, Bell picked up the first of his five Le Mans 24 Hours wins. Often partnered with Jacky Ickx in the Porsche models, the pairing was widely regarded as among the best Le Mans partnerships in history, and Bell would go on to win Le Mans again in 1981-2 and 1986-7. In later years, he also won the Daytona 24 Hours race on three occasions (1986-7 and 1989) and two World Sportscar Championships in 1985-6 alongside Hans-Joachim Stuck.
Bell is still actively involved in motorsport in historic events and as a commentator in the United States.
[Original image via Zimbio]
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