Just last weekend, we got a first glimpse of Derek Bell MBE at the French race circuit after a long time as he leads a motorsport challenge. Bell, Bentley’s brand ambassador, is a five-time winner at Le Mans. Bell had raced a 4 ½ litre Bentley Blower at the Le Mans Classic -- with owner Martin Overington as his partner.
Backing him up was a 3-man pit crew from Mission Motorsport, a UK charity that involves seriously injured military personnel in a variety of competitive motor racing challenges as part of their rehabilitation. The leader of his support team was former Royal Marine Commando Tony Compson, who worked with Gary Dunning and James Gillborn.
These men experienced major life-changing injuries while they were in active service but that didn’t prevent the Mission Motorsport team from giving the fastest possible pit stops for Bell and Overington. They also worked right through the night to guarantee that the Bentley Blower could make it to the race on Saturday.
There was some concern that the Bentley Blower couldn’t participate on Sunday but Bell and Overington were able to secure a very convincing 15th out of 69 entries in the race last Saturday with the Mission Motorsport team being able to achieve a 92-second pit stop. Bentley Motors, Derek Bell and Mission Motorsport would like to take the opportunity to thank Martin Overington for his support at the Le Mans Classic race. The sponsor of the team is Crewe Genuine Parts, which supplies replacement parts for all Bentley and Rolls-Royce models made in Crewe, England from 1955 until the present.
Major James Cameron, Director of Mission Motorsport said: “The challenge of going racing, being competitive and working in a team environment again is playing a key part in restoring the confidence and physical fitness of large numbers of service personnel who are currently on the long road to recovery. It really does not get much better than racing a Bentley at Le Mans with Derek Bell and we hope the story will inspire other people to support us.”
Born on October 31, 1941 in Pinner, Middlesex, England, Derek Reginald Bell MBE is a British racing legend who won the Le Mans 24 Hours five times (1975, 1981, 1982, 1986 and 1987), the Daytona 24 three times and the World Sportscar Championship twice. His first win in 1975 came in a Gulf Mirage GR8. His second and third wins were in a Porsche 936 (1981) and a Rothmans Porsche 956 (1982), respectively. Bell won the 1986 and 1987 Le Mans in a Rothmans Porsche 962.