NORTH East sidecar legend and Southern 100 mainstay Ian Bell is to be remembered as his family celebrates what would have been his 60th birthday on June 17.
Led by Ian’s wife Trudy, the Bell family will release 60 balloons at 4pm from on the start-finish line on the Castletown Bypass in memory of the popular Geordie sidecar pilot who lost his life at the 2016 Isle of Man TT races.
Bell’s illustrious Southern 100 racing career began in 1979 where he secured a second place in his very first race, the 1300cc Solo event, following it up with a podium in the Solo Championship race.
As well as a lover of the Southern 100, he holds a unique record as the only rider or sidecar driver to have won the prestigious Southern 100 Solo Championship and the Sidecar Championship.
The Bedlington native won the Solo Championship in 1987 and took the first of three Sidecar Championships in 1999, retaining the title in 2000 and regaining the Sidecar Championship just eight years ago in 2009.
After an incident curtailed his solo career, Ian returned to racing as a sidecar driver and won his first ever outfit race at the Southern, the F2 race in 1998, and took a runner-up finish in the Sidecar Championship race to boot.
With Neil Carpenter in the chair, Bell took the chequered flag in the Sidecar Championship race in 1999, and ten years later he repeated the feat with his son Carl alongside to take the 2009 Southern 100 Sidecar Championship Trophy.
Over the four years that followed, the father-son duo took two seconds and two thirds, before finally remounting the top step in 2014.
And in what would be Ian’s last year at the Southern 100, he and Carl took a hard-fought third place finish.
Race fans and enthusiasts alike from near and far are invited to take part in the celebration of a sidecar legend who entertained Southern 100 crowds for 36 years, beginning at the start-finish line of the Billown Course at 4pm this Saturday.
*Image: Glynne Lewis