Five-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Derek Bell has been named grand marshal for this year’s race, officials from the Automobile Club de l’Ouest confirmed on Wednesday.
Bell, who is one of the winningest drivers in the French endurance classic, will take to the wheel of the pace car to lead the expected field of 62 cars to the start of the race on Aug. 21 at 4 p.m. local time.
The 79-year-old joins fellow luminaries to have held grand marshal duties in recent years including Emanuele Pirro (2020), Hurley Haywood (2019) and Jacky Ickx (2018).
“I am extremely honored to be invited to be Grand Marshal at the Worlds greatest race, having raced at Le Mans 26 times in 27 years plus spending many weeks whilst assisting on the Le Mans movie with Steve McQueen in 1970,” said Bell.
“I believe the best memory of my life was to lead the 1995 race with my son Justin and of course Andy Wallace in the Harrods Mclaren and finish in 3rd position on Fathers Day, to stand on the podium with my son was truly unique.
“Le Mans has become my second home, its always a thrill to attend the event, having such a history there with so many great teammates. Thank you Le Mans.”
ACO President Pierre Fillon said it’s a “tremendous honor” to have Bell as grand marshal for this year’s running.
“Derek marked the history of the 24 Hours, and motorsport in general,” said Fillon.
“As one of the five most successful drivers at the 24 Hours of Le Mans ever, he is part of a select breed.
“With this year’s race being more eagerly awaited than ever, we could not dream of a better person to lead out the 62 cars on 21 August. I would like to thank Derek for agreeing to fulfill this prestigious role.”