A great many of Derek Bell’s racing achievements were achieved while behind the wheel of a Porsche racing car and for this reason, it was perhaps inevitable that Derek Bell – All my Porsche races, would one day be committed to print, highlighting his extraordinarily successful career. Contrary to what many may think, Derek Bell did not cruise to the top of his profession without some considerable struggles along the way, and he even came close to giving it all up at one point. Luckily for us, he persisted!
As has been the case with so many great drivers over the years, they started in the lower ranks of the sport and worked their way up the ladder. Bell’s career was no different, as he progressed through Formula 3 and Formula 2 before his first drive in a works Ferrari F1. His first sports car outing came in May 1970 in the Spa 1000km where he drove a Ferrari 512S. Bell kept the car in contention until he came in for fuel towards the end of the race, and as he restarted the car it burst into flames. He was extracted from the burning car, and once the flames had been extinguished, he climbed back in and continued the race, finishing in eighth place.
When one talks, or in this case writes, about Derek Bell, your mind immediately puts him behind the wheel of a Gulf Porsche 917 or a Rothmans Porsche 956/962. There were other rides though in a BMW 3.0 CSL and an Alfa 2000 GTV, before he eventually sat in a Porsche 917. Bell also drove for a great many private teams, even getting behind the wheel of a Porsche 935, both in Europe and in the USA.
The book is divided into ‘parts’ which group the different cars that Bell drove, into eras such as the 917 and 935, then the Group C years and so on, making it easy to locate that part of Bell’s career by the cars that he drove. As it happens with many who rise to the top of his or her discipline, be it motor racing, rugby or any sport, it is so often a case of being in the right place at the right time. That is not to take anything away from Bell’s unparalleled talents and achievements, because you have to be good in the first place in order to be noticed. But 1981 proved to be a difficult year for Bell as did the start of 1982, but Group C came along just at the right moment for this driver who was looking for a break to move into a more fruitful time. Bell stepped up to the plate and delivered.
This book is well supported with some really great imagery from the factory as well as other mainline photographic sources, making this a very well presented work on an important driver. Within each chapter, Bell has recalled his memories by race, in detail where possible. The reader should bear in mind that as is the case with so many of the racing drivers from this era, they participated in so many events that it is sometimes difficult to recall a race in great detail. Bell is not shy to mention this in some cases, and he is to be saluted for his honesty and frankness in this respect.
The author also details the races in which Bell participated with the Richard Lloyd Racing team, as well as the Gianpiero Moretti (MOMO) team, a thoroughly interesting period and often not well documented. Bell also gives a full account of what it was like driving alongside fellow heroes such as Stefan Bellof, Jo Siffert, Hans Stuck, Jacky Ickx and others.
Interestingly, Bell tells the reader how it really was in the racing world back then as regards team relationships and race earnings. The author has also topped off each section with a table of results, be it in Europe or in the USA. Extensive research also includes coverage of almost 200 races from around the world, including the World Sportscar Championship, IMSA and the All-Japan Sports-Prototype Championship.
All in all, this is a very well researched and well written work. The co-author, an accomplished journalist and writer, has combined well with Derek Bell the racing driver, to produce a valuable and entertaining read. For its honesty, simplicity and quality of presentation, this is both a useful and valuable piece of work to have on your bookshelf.
If you are a Porsche racing enthusiast, and your passion is focussed on the most exciting period in recent sports racing car history, then you need to get this book.
|Title||Derek Bell – All my Porsche races|
|Authors||Derek Bell and Richard Heseltine|
|Publisher||Porter Press International|
|Format||240mm x 280mm landscape, jacketed hardback|
|Page count||276 pages|
|Images||More than 200 photos, including colour|
Written by: Glen Smale