Inside the Cockpit: Le Mans Legend Derek Bell Talks About Driving 238 mph, Among Other Things
Very few of us ever actually exceed 100 mph in our lives and even fewer ever exceed 200 mph, so there is only a small group of people that can actually explain what it feels like to drive in excess of 200 mph. One of people that can give us first-hand accounts is five-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Derek Bell. Thanks to Motor Sport Magazine’s monthly podcast, we now have an avenue to hear him speak about his high speed antics.
This entertaining interview had several high spots; the first one was his recollection of driving a Porsche 962 at an eye-popping 238 mph, in the rain. He begins by calling driving over 200 mph a surreal experience and saying it’s like being on another world. He then talks about how the rain almost turns into a solid wall of water that you simply cannot see through. He tops it all off by saying “Fortunately, you go around a kink and you can slow down… ‘Cause you’re at the end.” He then continues to chuckle and call the entire experience “awful,” “but you did it.”
When asked what his favorite circuit was, he strangely said “Spa,” referring to Circuit De Spa-Francorchamps, which once featured the feared and once boycotted Masta Kink – a hairpin turn after a long straightaway. See Bell tackle the Spa Circuit and the Masta Kink in the video above.
Bell then spoke about his scariest moment, which also occurred at Spa while driving the Gulf-sponsored Mirage. During testing, he came around the Masta Kink at 190 mph and in the middle of the track was his rookie teammate’s red Lola racecar, obviously broken down or spun out, and he had nowhere to go. He says “To this day, I don’t know what I did. I guess I hit the brakes,” and somehow the Mirage managed to correct itself. After that he pulled into the pit stop, despite having more testing time to go.
The entire podcast is a great listen, if you have an hour to spare. Check it out by clicking here!