Derek Bell is an English driver who I idolised as a kid. He’s the most successful ever Englishman when it comes to endurance racing, having won the highly coveted Le Mans 24 Hour race five times, Daytona 24 three times and the World Sports Car Championship twice.
Late last year (2013), icons of motorsport were brought together for a very special tribute, which comprised of Derek driving the legendary Porsche 956 Group C race car around the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife track - “the most demanding and difficult purpose-built racing circuit in the world”.
The whole event was a tribute to the German driver Stefan Bellof.
Stefan Bellof was in my opinion the greatest ever German driver (he had more potential than even Schumacher due to the great risks he took), though whose career was drastically cut short when he collided with Jacky Ickx at Eau Rouge at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium in 1985. The crash was captured on the on-board camera of Jacky’s Porsche 962.
The crash may be found here, but please do not click if you’re of a nervous disposition (video).
Bellof also holds the fastest ever lap time for the Nürburgring Nordschleife at 6 minutes 11.13 seconds - which works out incredibly as an average speed of 202 km/h (126 mph). The record still stands to this very day.
It should be noted that this record will never ever be beaten simply because the Nordschleife was classified as being too dangerous for the likes of F1¹, and also because the record itself stands as a tribute to Bellof and his incredible achievement (Nick Heidfeld once drove his BMW Sauber F1 car there but was not allowed to complete the lap; a lap in which he would undoubtedly have beaten Bellof’s time).
¹ - In 1976 Niki Lauda crashed his car during a F1 race there, and would no doubt have died but for the actions of his fellow drivers. It was determined that the track was far too long for emergency services to respond to incidents, and thus F1 never raced there again.