Five-times Le Mans winner Derek Bell stepped back in time this week, climbing into the iconic Rothmans-liveried Porsche 956-001 in which he took victory at Le Mans. The 40th anniversary of his momentous La Sarthe outing was marked at the Royal Automobile Club, of which Bell is an honorary member.
The racer drove his old charge up the Captain’s Drive at the Club’s Woodcote Park clubhouse on 9 September – a car which is considered by many to be one of the most significant Porsches, due to being the first of the firm’s race cars to feature a full aluminium monocoque. Its debut was made at Silverstone in 1982, with Derek Bell and Jackie Ickx at the wheel. The pair missed the next round, but went on to score a remarkable win at Le Mans shortly after.
“Derek Bell is one of the greatest endurance racers of our time, and to see him take the Porsche 956 up the Captain’s Drive was a tremendous sight to behold,” said chairman of the RAC’s Motoring Committee Peter Read.
A special commemorative bronze plaque was unveiled at Woodcote Park to mark the occasion, an honour bestowed upon fellow Club members Sir Jackie Stewart and John Surtees.
The day was rounded off with an exclusive member’s dinner at the Pall Mall clubhouse, where Bell’s 1984 World Championship-winning Porsche 959-009 was on display – the very car in which Stefan Bellof set the Nordschleife lap record of 6 minutes 11.13 seconds.