Harry Schell

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Harry Schell
FIA Super Licence Flag of the United States United States
Formula One World Championship career
Active years1950 Formula One season - 1960 Formula One season
TeamsCooper Car Company, Talbot-Lago, Maserati, Gordini, Ferrari, Vanwall, British Racing Motors
List of Formula One World Drivers' Champions0
Career points32
Pole position0
Fastest lap0
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 United States 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-Benz in motorsport, 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 Cooper Car Company 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 British Racing Motors, 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 Circuit 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

(F1 driver results legend 2)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 WDC Pts.
1950 Formula One season Horschell Racing Corporation Cooper Car Company Cooper 1000 JA Prestwich Industries Ltd V-twin 1950 British Grand Prix 1950 Monaco Grand Prix
1950 Indianapolis 500 NC 0
Ecurie Bleue Talbot-Lago Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot Straight-6 1950 Swiss Grand Prix
1950 Belgian Grand Prix 1950 French Grand Prix 1950 Italian Grand Prix
1951 Formula One season Enrico Platé Maserati Maserati 4CLT Maserati Straight-4Supercharger 1951 Swiss Grand Prix
1951 Indianapolis 500 1951 Belgian Grand Prix 1951 French Grand Prix
1951 British Grand Prix 1951 German Grand Prix 1951 Italian Grand Prix 1951 Spanish Grand Prix NC 0
1952 Formula One season Enrico Platé Maserati Maserati 4CLT Enrico Platé Straight-4 1952 Swiss Grand Prix
1952 Indianapolis 500 1952 Belgian Grand Prix 1952 French Grand Prix
1952 British Grand Prix
1952 German Grand Prix 1952 Dutch Grand Prix 1952 Italian Grand Prix NC 0
1953 Formula One season Gordini Gordini Gordini T16 Gordini Straight-6 1953 Argentine Grand Prix
1953 Indianapolis 500 1953 Dutch Grand Prix
1953 Belgian Grand Prix
1953 French Grand Prix
1953 British Grand Prix
1953 German Grand Prix
1953 Swiss Grand Prix 1953 Italian Grand Prix
NC 0
1954 Formula One season Harry Schell Maserati Maserati A6GCM Maserati Straight-6 1954 Argentine Grand Prix
1954 Indianapolis 500 1954 Belgian Grand Prix 1954 French Grand Prix
1954 British Grand Prix
1954 German Grand Prix
NC 0
Maserati Maserati 250F Maserati Straight-6 1954 Spanish Grand Prix
Maserati Maserati Maserati 250F Maserati Straight-6 1954 Swiss Grand Prix
1954 Italian Grand Prix
1955 Formula One season Maserati Maserati Maserati 250F Maserati Straight-6 1955 Argentine Grand Prix
NC 0
Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari Ferrari 555 Ferrari Straight-4 1955 Monaco Grand Prix
1955 Indianapolis 500 1955 Belgian Grand Prix
1955 Dutch Grand Prix
Vanwall Vanwall Vanwall Straight-4 1955 British Grand Prix
1955 Italian Grand Prix
1956 Formula One season Vanwall Vanwall Vanwall Straight-4 1956 Argentine Grand Prix 1956 Monaco Grand Prix
1956 Indianapolis 500 1956 Belgian Grand Prix
1956 French Grand Prix
1956 British Grand Prix
1956 Italian Grand Prix
17th 3
Scuderia Centro Sud Maserati Maserati 250F Maserati Straight-6 1956 German Grand Prix
1957 Formula One season Scuderia Centro Sud Maserati Maserati 250F Maserati Straight-6 1957 Argentine Grand Prix
7th 10
Maserati Maserati Maserati 250F Maserati Straight-6 1957 Monaco Grand Prix
1957 Indianapolis 500 1957 French Grand Prix
1957 British Grand Prix
1957 German Grand Prix
1957 Pescara Grand Prix
1957 Italian Grand Prix
1958 Formula One season Jo Bonnier Maserati Maserati 250F Maserati Straight-6 1958 Argentine Grand Prix
6th 14
British Racing Motors British Racing Motors BRM P25 British Racing Motors Straight-4 1958 Monaco Grand Prix
1958 Dutch Grand Prix
1958 Indianapolis 500 1958 Belgian Grand Prix
1958 French Grand Prix
1958 British Grand Prix
1958 German Grand Prix
1958 Portuguese Grand Prix
1958 Italian Grand Prix
1958 Morocco Grand Prix
1959 Formula One season British Racing Motors British Racing Motors BRM P25 British Racing Motors Straight-4 1959 Monaco Grand Prix
1959 Indianapolis 500 1959 Dutch Grand Prix
1959 French Grand Prix
1959 British Grand Prix
1959 German Grand Prix
1959 Portuguese Grand Prix
1959 Italian Grand Prix
13th 5
Ecurie Bleue Cooper Car Company Cooper T51 Coventry Climax Straight-4 1959 United States Grand Prix
1960 Formula One season Ecurie Bleue Cooper Car Company Cooper T51 Coventry Climax Straight-4 1960 Argentine Grand Prix
1960 Monaco Grand Prix 1960 Indianapolis 500 1960 Dutch Grand Prix 1960 Belgian Grand Prix 1960 French Grand Prix 1960 British Grand Prix 1960 Portuguese Grand Prix 1960 Italian Grand Prix 1960 United States Grand Prix NC 0

* Shared drive/s.

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


  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.

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