The Loss Of Ian Bell

Editor’s Note:  Our contributor and friend lost a mentor this past week. Johnny Kilmore reflects on the loss of sidecar Isle of Man racer, Ian Bell.

I’ve just learned that sidecar racer Ian Bell was killed in an incident during the Isle of Man TT Sure Sidecar race 2 this past Friday. He was a long-known name to me, always near the front of the field and his trademark red/yellow/blue colors were instantly recognizable.  Ian first raced the TT in 1995, while I was still in high school and four years before I had ever heard of the Isle of Man, or sidecar racing for that matter. He raced with his son Carl as co-pilot, who was reported as uninjured.

In 2013 I and Gina went over to the TT and I remember Ian being one of the famous names I didn’t get to meet. The sidecar paddock was amazingly friendly and I felt at home immediately in any pit space I walked into; I’m sure Ian would have been the same.

This year has seen a heavy toll on sidecars, with race 1 being red flagged for the fatal crash of driver Dwight Beare (his co-pilot Ben Binns was injured but stable). It is an obvious and well known risk at the Isle of Man TT, and is part of what makes it such a stand out event, but that does not make death any less shocking or unexpected than if it happened slipping in the shower. Add to it the death of Andrew Soar in the Superbike race and Paul Shoesmith during practice and it is certainly the roughest TT in many years.

I wish to give my heartfelt condolences to Ian and his family, but also to the sidecar racing community as a whole and to all those who head down Bray Hill each year… this loss is of more than just a man. Godspeed.

Read a 2003 interview with Ian Bell