I’ve just learned that sidecar racer Ian Bell was killed in an incident during the Isle of Man TT sidecar 2 race today. 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.
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