Harry Schell

Harry Schell.jpeg (7460 bytes)Harry Schell was born in Paris in June 1921 to a French father, Laury Schell (who raced for Delahaye prior to the war) and his American wife Lucy O'Reilly Schell (who won the Coupe des Dames on the Monte Carlo Rally in 1929). Harry was brought up in France, where his father ran Ecurie Bleu until his death in a car accident when his mother took over the team, taking Rene Dreyfus to Indianapolis in 1940.

Harry went with the team and began competing himself, after the war. He was naturally attracted to the new Formula 3 and he and his brother Philippe acquired a pair of Cooper Mk IVs, in long chassis form, which he could run with a JAP 500 single for F3 or a JAP 1000 twin, making it eligible for Formula 2. This enabled him to make a small piece of history at Monaco in May 1950; after taking a heat win and second in the Formula 3 final, to Moss, the engine was swapped and he took the start of the Monaco Grand Prix, thus marking the first time that a mid engined car took part in a Formula 1 Grand Prix. A decade later, Coopers had made the mid engine de rigueur. In fact, the race didn't go that well as there was a large pile-up during the first lap, when a wave from the harbour flooded the track at Tabac Corner. Harry managed 20 laps before retiring following a collision. It was won by Fangio, from Ascari, Chiron, Raymond Sommer, Bira, Bob Gerard and Johnny Claes.

In Formula 3, Harry won at Mons on the 14th May, again at Aix les Bains a week later and again at Grenoble in June.

Harry was known as a bit of a charmer and popular with the girls in the Cooper office. The story goes that me more than once put one over on Charlie Cooper, disappearing without paying for parts after a good lunch!

In the following years he raced in Formula 2 for HWM and Gordini, while enjoying a playboy lifestyle. In the mid 50s he drove for Maserati and finished second in the Rome GP and third at Aintree. In 1956, Schell drove a Vanwall in the French Grand Prix at Reims, where he battled for the lead against the Lancia-Ferrari D50s.

 

Harry and Stirling after the Monaco Formula 3 race, 20th May 1950

"Jenks", Schell, Hawthorn and Lampredi, left.

In 1957 Harry drove a works Maserati, finishing third in the Pescara Grand Prix, and took second place in the 1958 Dutch Grand Prix in a BRM. He stayed with BRM through 1959 before switching to the British Racing Partnership  team, owned by Alfred Moss and Ken Gregory, for 1960. Harry aquaplaned off during practice for the Silverstone International Trophy race, the car overturned and he was killed instantly.

After many years in a museum, Harry's Cooper Mk IV is now in the hands of Gilbert Lenoir.

From Iota, May '51

Harry's Cooper Mk IV now owned by Gilbert Lenoir and back for the Algarve Historic October 2010. Photo Gilbert Lenoir

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