Derek Bell

Author

admin

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Busman’s holiday

The Le Mans-winning sports car star attempted to add another long-distance victory to his tally during the ’79 season. On a lawn mower. With Stirling Moss…
Interview: Rob Widdows. Photography: BLMRC

I’ve been lucky. In a career lasting more than 40 years I’ve raced almost every type of car, starting with my Lotus 7 and graduating to F1 with Ferrari before winning at Le Mans and getting the World Endurance Championship. But then I’ve also raced lawn mowers.

It was in 1979, early in my sports car career, when a mate called Jim Gavin created a 12-hour race for lawn mowers in Wisborough Green, Sussex. This was probably the result of a particularly good night in The Cricketers, his local pub.

‘Fancy racing a lawn mower this year?’ Jim asked me at the beginning of a busy season with Renault. Well, it sounded like a fun idea and I was used to endurance racing.

I should explain, for those not familiar with the sport, that racing lawn mowers is not about a bunch of yokels running round in circles with old Atcos. No, this is serious stuff, with regulations just like real motor racing. Jim was a rally organiser so he knew about staging events and the Wisborough Green 12 Hours was to be an event run under the Lawn Mower Racing Association rulebook.

There were various classes. Starting with the slowest, you had those who walked pushing their mowers. Then there were the sit-on jobs with a seat towed behind and up at the sharp end were the four-wheeled tractor mowers with brakes, gears, lights and all the mod cons.

So it was a bit like Le Mans with, you know, the really quick ones lapping the slower ones and you had to watch out for backmarkers and those running along behind. At Le Mans at least everyone has lights but of course at Wisborough Green the night stints were tricky in that only the big boys on their ride-on tractors had the advantage of being able to see properly.

And it was bumpy, I mean bumpy like a field, because that’s where the track was laid out, the racing line defined by straw bales and flag marshals.

My co-driver was Stirling Moss. We made a good team and won it a couple of times in later years when John Watson also joined the team as a driver. Local favourites were the lads from The Cricketers with their crew of runners and mechanics fielding a squad of ‘run-behinds’ and the team of garden machinery man John Penfold.

Stirling and I were entered by Westwood, a full works team, so we expected to be on the pace and to have the latest tweaks on our tractors. The rules dictated that, for safety, the blades had to be removed. Not many other mods were allowed as I remember, just the usual racers’ tricks such as making them as light as we could and trying to get the centre of gravity a tad lower than it would have been in normal lawn-mowing trim.

The race was hilarious and a great spectacle. We did well, leading for much of the race until something broke early in the morning, and Stirling went charging off the track and disappeared through a tent. Huge fun.

Related articles

Related products