CUTTING a fine figure in its trademark Ian Bell Racing colours, the Bell Racing LCR F1 machine is certainly chalking up some miles this season.
It’s probably one of the busiest outfits in Britain this year – believe us, we’ve bumped into it at just about every race meeting we’ve been at – as it tackles an eclectic mix of championships and clubs.
It’s the prize possession of brothers Phil and Mick Bell, who bought it between them last summer with the aim of sharing it for their individual endeavours.
For Phil, it’s all about his return to F1 action in the Hyundai Heavy Industries British Sidecar Championship, while Mick is using it as a chance to get re-acquainted with something he dabbled in briefly a few years ago.
“I wanted another F1 because after several years in an F2 I just wasn’t happy and knew I needed to be back in the bigger machine,” explains Phil.
“Michael had a little run out a few years ago but never really stuck with it, but he was keen to give it another go so we took the plunge and went for it.”
After a couple of run outs late last year for Phil, the family outfit took to the road in March and have had barely a weekend at home since.
For Mick it’s been about getting as many club race events as he possibly can, as he and passenger Tom Pugh get to grips with something new, while Phil has been concentrating on the British championship, where he and passenger Tony Belsey currently sit seventh in the points.
When Phil’s racing Mick is there on the spanners and vice versa, all overseen by Dad Geoff, himself a seasoned sidecar man and TT winner.
“It’s nice to have a big one again,” smiles Geoff. “It wasn’t the same when Phil was in that F2, I think the big ones are far better. It’s great for us all to be back out again and having both the lads racing.”
The Bells each have different fairings for whichever rider has the outfit at the time, and as with all things sidecars, there’s always something to be done.
“We do spend a lot of time working on things, particularly on a race weekend but it’s great because we enjoy it so much,” says Phil. “It’s nice to be so involved but it is tiring – when you’ve not had a weekend at home for two months it can be a bit much!”
While Phil has, to all intents and purposes, picked up where he left off with the F1 several years ago, it’s all still a big learning curve for Mick.
“It’s nice because Tom was quite new to it too, so we have been able to learn at our own pace,” he explains. “Neither of us have any pressure on us, it’s all about getting ourselves used to it and having fun.
As with all learning years, it’s been a year of ups, downs and even an upside down for Mick and Tom at East Fortune last month, but as a pair of novices they’re taking it in their stride.
“I’m enjoying it, even when it doesn’t go our way, and there have been a few times it hasn’t gone our way this year,” Mick added. “But we’re picking up more and more each time out and most of all we’re enjoying it.”
After their most recent outing at Cadwell Park for NG Road Racing’s meeting last weekend, the outfit has now been handed back across to Phil to prepare for his next race.
“The British championship is at Knockhill this weekend which is my home track and probably one of my favourite – I’ve had some good results there in the past so I’m hoping I can get my best of the year there.
“It’s been a hard start to the year for all of us, but we’re having fun along the way. We’re all just about living and breathing sidecars again, and to be fair that’s really what we’ve always known.
“It’s nice for us all to work together and Dad’s enjoying it too – so as long as we’re all enjoying it we’ll keep going.”
*Main and Phil Bell action images: Ian Hopgood
*Mick Bell action image: Steve Snelling
*Other images: UK Clubsport