Harry Schell

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Harry Schell
Nationality Flag of the United States American
Formula One World Championship career
Active years1950 - 1960
TeamsCooper, Talbot-Lago, Maserati, Gordini, Ferrari, Vanwall, BRM
Races56
Championships0
Wins0
Podiums2
Career points32
Pole positions0
Fastest laps0
First race1950 Monaco Grand Prix
Last race1960 Argentine Grand Prix

Henry O'Reilly Schell (born 29 June 1921, Paris, France - died 13 May 1960, Silverstone Circuit, England) was an American Grand Prix motor racing driver.

Early life

Schell was the son of expatriate American and sometime auto racer Laury Schell; his mother was the wealthy American heiress Lucy O'Reilly. O'Reilly was an auto racing enthusiast who had met Laury while visiting France; they soon became familiar names on the rallying scene together. She became heavily invested in the Delahaye concern, first campaigning sports cars for them and then championing the development of a Delahaye Grand Prix car, which she ran under the Ecurie Bleue banner. Frenchman Rene Dreyfus won the 1938 Pau Grand Prix for the team in a shock upset over Mercedes, but the Delahaye project failed to raise the necessary backing and was never developed to its full extent.

Shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, Schell's parents were involved in a road accident in which Laury was killed and O'Reilly severely injured. When France was occupied by Germanu, Schell and his mother returned to America, where Schell took on the running of two Delahayes at the 1940 Indianapolis 500. Having already volunteered in the Finnish Air Force during their Winter War with Russia in 1939, Harry then earned a commission in the United States Tank Corps when America entered the Second World War.[1]

Racing career

Schell went on to race in Europe, driving Coopers in Formula 3, Formula 2 and even the Formula One World Drivers' Championship upon its inception in 1950. His first appearance was in a Cooper powered by a J.A.P. V-twin engine at Monte Carlo; it ended in an accident at the harbor chicane that involved the majority of the field.

Though Schell never won a championship Grand Prix and enjoyed life as a playboy and womanizer, he was highly respected in period; he twice stood on the podium with a high of second in the 1958 Dutch Grand Prix, won the Caen Grand Prix of 1956, and balanced those with periodic sports car outings. He partnered with Stirling Moss in securing a second place at the 1957 12 Hours of Sebring, and took third place at the same event in 1959.[2] His most notable spells in Formula One came for B.R.M., Vanwall, and the Maserati factory effort as a subordinate to the five-time champion Juan Manuel Fangio. He also drove for Scuderia Ferrari for a single run at the 1955 Monaco Grand Prix.

Schell carved out a reputation as a safe and prudent competitor and could be counted on as a consistent points scorer, but he also proved his class when the opportunity presented itself. In the 1954 Spanish Grand Prix, he took the lead from the start in his private Maserati and drove off into the distance before spinning out of first place and then retiring with a transmission failure. At the 1956 French Grand Prix, he relieved an ill Mike Hawthorn after his own Vanwall had gone out with an early engine failure and drove back into second position. The Ferrari team, operating under the assumption that Schell was a lap adrift, had been caught out, and a dramatic fight for the lead ensued, but Schell's effort went for nought as he was forced to make a lengthy pit stop soon after. He had succeeded, however, in displaying the full potential of the Vanwall on the world stage for the first time.

By the start of 1960, and nearing 40, Schell's prospects appeared dim, and he campaigned a private Cooper run under his family's Ecurie Bleue banner. That changed, however, when he was contracted by the British Racing Partnership team before the start of the European Grand Prix season for a full program of events, to be teamed with Tony Brooks and the up-and-coming Chris Bristow in year-old Coopers. Schell died in practice for the non-championship International Trophy event at Silverstone in 1960, when he crashed his Cooper at Abbey Curve. Schell was driving at approximately 100 mph when his car slid into the mud on the side of the track and lost a wheel. The Cooper somersaulted and penetrated a safety barrier, causing a brick wall to collapse.[2]

Prior to his death, Schell had been extremely vocal in the promotion of the roll-bar on European racing cars, a safety feature required in America. By the 1500cc formula of 1961, it had become standard in Formula One.

Complete Formula One World Championship results

(key)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 WDC Pts.
1950 Horschell Racing Corporation Cooper T12 JAP V-twin GBR MON
Ret
500 NC 0
Ecurie Bleue Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot L6 SUI
8
BEL FRA ITA
1951 Enrico Platé Maserati 4CLT/48 Maserati L4C SUI
12
500 BEL FRA
Ret
GBR GER ITA ESP NC 0
1952 Enrico Platé Maserati 4CLT/50 Platé L4 SUI
Ret
500 BEL FRA
Ret*
GBR
17
GER NED ITA NC 0
1953 Equipe Gordini Gordini T16 Gordini L6 ARG
7*
500 NED
Ret
BEL
7
FRA
Ret
GBR
Ret
GER
Ret
SUI ITA
9
NC 0
1954 Harry Schell Maserati A6GCM Maserati L6 ARG
6
500 BEL FRA
Ret
GBR
12
GER
7
NC 0
Maserati 250F Maserati L6 ESP
Ret
Officine Alfieri Maserati Maserati 250F Maserati L6 SUI
Ret
ITA
1955 Officine Alfieri Maserati Maserati 250F Maserati L6 ARG
6+7*
NC 0
Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 555 Ferrari L4 MON
Ret
500 BEL
DNS
NED
Vandervell Products Ltd. Vanwall Vanwall L4 GBR
9*
ITA
Ret
1956 Vandervell Products Ltd. Vanwall Vanwall L4 ARG MON
Ret
500 BEL
4
FRA
10*
GBR
Ret
ITA
Ret
17th 3
Scuderia Centro Sud Maserati 250F Maserati L6 GER
Ret
1957 Scuderia Centro Sud Maserati 250F Maserati L6 ARG
4
7th 10
Officine Alfieri Maserati Maserati 250F Maserati L6 MON
Ret*
500 FRA
5
GBR
Ret
GER
7
PES
3
ITA
5*
1958 Joakim Bonnier Racing Team Maserati 250F Maserati L6 ARG
6
6th 14
Owen Racing Organisation BRM P25 BRM L4 MON
5
NED
2
500 BEL
5
FRA
Ret
GBR
5
GER
Ret
POR
6
ITA
Ret
MOR
5
1959 Owen Racing Organisation BRM P25 BRM L4 MON
Ret
500 NED
Ret
FRA
7
GBR
4
GER
7
POR
5
ITA
7
13th 5
Ecurie Bleue Cooper T51 Climax L4 USA
Ret
1960 Ecurie Bleue Cooper T51 Climax L4 ARG
Ret
MON 500 NED BEL FRA GBR POR ITA USA NC 0

* Shared drive/s.

Preceded by
Bob Cortner
Formula One fatal accidents
13 May 1960
Succeeded by
Chris Bristow
Records
Preceded by
Jean Behra
53 entries, 52 starts
(1950 - 1959)
Most Grand Prix entries
56 entries, 56 starts
(1950 - 1960),
54th at the 1959 Italian GP
Succeeded by
Stirling Moss
67 entries
(66 starts),
57th at the 1960 Portuguese GP

References

  1. A Prudent Driver, New York Times, 14 May 1960, Page 21.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Schell is Killed as Auto Skids In Drill on Eve of British Race, New York Times, 14 May 1960, Page 21.

External links