Stefan Bellof – King of the Nürburgring
Born in Germany in 1957, Stefan Bellof inherited a racing legacy from his brother, Georg. Stefan began his racing career with karting in 1973, placing fourth in the Automobilclub von Deutchsland’s Federal Junior Cup. It was only a few years later that Stefan took the championship in the 1976 International Karting Championship of Luxembourg. This notoriety went with him as he transitioned in 1980 to racing in Formula Ford.
Stefan entered the Junior Formula as a member of Walter Lechner’s Racing School, where he quickly achieved champion status. During this time, he also moved into the German Formula Three Championship on Bertram Schafer’s team. While he suffered poor point performance thanks to missing the first two opening races, Bellof made the claim that racing officials had “better watch my career, because I’ll be back here next year and I’ll win my first Formula 2 race.”
He went on to fulfill that promise by signing up with Formula Two Championship team with a limited amount of BMW backing. Bellof won 21 seconds ahead of the second place driver, securing a firm victory. He quickly moved into a high-performing Formula One career, though his reputation was tested by numerous challenges, such as being disqualified from the 1984 season and missing numerous races.
Stefan Bellof’s major connection to Nürburgring occurred in 1983, when he drove a Porsche 956 on the Nordschleife course, during the 1,000km Nürburgring endurance race. He set the fastest pole time ever on the course, clocking in at 6 minutes and 11.13 seconds, averaging 202.073 kms. He also set the record for fastest lap time at 6 minutes and 25.91 seconds, which remains the official record to this day.
Sadly, Stefan perished before he could achieve his destiny as a Formula One World Champion. During the 1,000km of Spa World Sportscar Championship, Bellof struck bumpers with another car and went straight through a barrier, crashing. His Porsche caught fire, and safety workers struggled for over 10 minutes to extricate him through the fire and smoke. Bellof died of massive internal injuries, ending his illustrious career.