STEFAN BELLOF: THE RED WATER
The footpath through the forests proceeds steeply up to the hill and the straight parallel to it ends at the horizon. Down in the valley there is a stream flowing under an old wooden bridge only 30 centimetres deep and in a rusty-red river bed that gives its name to the most sensational but at at the same time most dangerous part of a world famous race track: Eau rouge - the red water. It is the end of August 1991, at the scene of the Belgian Grand Prix: The place where Stefan Bellof lost his life during a sportscar race six years ago when crashing almost head on at high speed into the the wall in front of the grandstand. There was no carbon-fibre monocoque or gravel trap (that had been built after the accident) for his protection.
He won his first ever Formula 2 races (Silverstone and Hockenheim 1983 in a Maurer BMW), was Endurance World Champion with Porsche in 1984 and became well-known all over the world for his display in the Monaco Grand Prix the same year. At that Grand Prix in his underpowered Tyrrell Ford 012 (see drawing above) he overtook Ferrari driver Renè Arnoux in a spectacular and professional manner to be placed third in this exciting wet race.
Stefan drove agressively and relaxed at the same time being full of self-confidence. It was for this reason that Enzo Ferrari had nominated him for the Ferrari works team after the end of his three year contract with Ken Tyrrell - long before Berger, Mansell and Prost.
At that weekend when they started the 1991 Grand Prix season at Phoenix/Arizona I was in Bellof`s hometown Giessen at the river Lahn where he had once suffered so badly with the asthma desease during his early childhood and made his first steps in sport as a footballer with the club TSV Heuchelheim . He drove his first car in his parents` workshop courtyard like the young Niki Lauda. Later he started his career with karts like Ayrton Senna at the Oppenrod circuit outside the town.
The last time I saw Bellof in Formula 1 was in June 1985 at Spa during the practice for the Grand Prix that was cancelled on the drivers´ initiative and support of FISA president Balestre who was in Paris. This, in spite of the worldwide live TV coverage, because the track was covered with thousands of stones which made the cars look as they were being fired at by metal bullets.
When I came to Brands Hatch that autumn for the Grand Prix of Europe, Tyrrell number 4, then powered by a Renault turbo engine, was being driven by Ivan Capelli ...
born: 20 November 1957 Giessen near Frankfurt/Main, Germany
died: 1 September 1985 Spa-Francorchamps/Belgium (collision in the Brun Porsche with Jacky Ickx in the Rothmans Porsche at Eau Rouge during 1000 kms race)
Cars: Tyrrell Ford 012 (1984 & 1985), Tyrrell Renault 014 (1985)
Best Finish: 4th, U.S. Grand Prix, Detroit 1985 (3rd, Monaco Grand Prix 1984, but Tyrrell disqualified because of irregular cars for the complete 1984 season)
Total 20 Grand Prix
Stefan Bellofs overalls and his diary are on exhibition at the museum of the Nürburgring.
This page shows a meeting with Prince Rainier of Monaco.
Galleria Stefan Bellof
Graphics: Dipl.Ing Peter Ruemmler, photos: Klaus Ewald
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