"Retirement? No chance!" Rally legend Bob, 80, bears down on championship title

Bob Bean is raring to go
Bob Bean is raring to go

With a 62-year age-gap between him and some of the other contenders, you could forgive Cleckheaton rally driver Bob Bean for believing ‘it’s the taking part that counts’.

But that isn’t part of the pensioner’s psyche as he prepares to hunt down the pack at this weekend’s Trackrod Championship race, which will start and finish in Filey.

Bob Bean races his car earlier this year

Bob Bean races his car earlier this year

Incredibly, a win would see the 80-year-old crowned champion in what is a fiercely competitive open-age competition.

“It’ll be tough,” he said, “it’ll be very a very fast race because the conditions have been so dry.

“Hopefully I’m going to win. I’ve currently got grasp of it and I know what I have to do. There is one man who has done very well - he’s the one I have to beat.

“On the Friday night we’re racing at about 120 miles per hour through the forests in the dark, so I’ll have to have my wits about me, that’s for sure.”

And wits he has by the bootload. Although a little hard of hearing, Bob says he is as fit as a fiddle and has no plans to retire any time soon.

“Retirement? Certainly not! I said to myself when I reached 70 that I would go on for as long as I was enjoying it, I wasn’t a burden on the competition and I was still getting good results.

“I had a very good finish in the RAC Roger Albert Clark race (a prestigious meet which Bob has won three times) in November last year and I thought to myself; ‘I’m still alright at this!’”

Bob has lost count of the number of titles he has won in a 58-year career, but spoke with passion about his time spent behind the wheel.

He said: “This has taken me all over the world. I love it.

“I raced in the World Cup Rally in 1974. It started in London and went through France, Portugal, all through Africa, into Turkey and finished in Munich. It was a 20,000 mile race that went over 28 days. We finished fifth.”

Bob’s wife Jenny, who has followed his exploits all over the world, explained how proud she was of his continued success.

“I’m very proud of him,” she said, “I’ve found that I tend to be a little more selective about which races I go with him to nowadays, though! I think it’s wonderful.”