Le Mans God Derek Bell Explains What It Felt Like To Do 238 MPH In A Porsche 962

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Derek Bell, the British racing driver who looks like Iggy Pop wearing Lionel Messi’s haircut, has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans five times. He was recently a guest on Motor Sport Magazine’s monthly podcast and explained what it was like to drive the Porsche 962 down the Mulsanne Straight in the rain:

In the 962, we were doing 235–238 MPH, and it’s really a strange thing. Unless you’ve gone over 200 miles an hour, in my opinion, you haven’t been into another world. You’d go over the edge and it’s suddenly very strange. It becomes a surreal experience over 200. In the rain, particularly.

And literally, as you go up there, the rain is coming down and hitting you like a bloody snowstorm. But at a certain point, it becomes a wall and you cannot see. There’s so much rain coming at you that you can’t see through it.

And then, fortunately, you go around the kink and you know you’re about to slow down because you’re at the end.

Bell is a fantastic character and he talks about racing for Enzo Ferrari in the late 1960s, driving with Jacky Ickx at Le Mans and riding motorcycles with Steve McQueen. If you’ve got an hour, it’s a fabulous listen (the part about the 962 in the rain is at 38 minutes in).


Photos by Simon Bruty/Getty Images (Bell’s #17 Porsche 962 in 1987) and Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images (Bell with Enzo Ferrari in 1968).