Rider Of The Week looks at a famous rider and examines the trajectory of their career. There have been a lot of memorable motorcyclists who’ve dedicated themselves to racing. Some achieved their potential, while others weren’t able to go as far as they could. Artie Bell was a skilled rider who loved being on a bike. His promising career was cut short in 1950, due to an accident. He survived the crash, but he wasn’t able to race again.
Bell was born in Belfast in 1914 and he started riding motorbikes when he was a teenager. His father was strongly against him riding and forced Bell to get rid of his Sunbeam motorbike. By 1938, he was riding in small events and made a name for himself by coming second in the North West 200.
Bell’s racing career took off during the post-World War II years. At the 1946 Cookstown 100 event he recorded the fastest lap time of 76.60 mph. In 1947, he won the 500 cc Grand Prix race and set a new lap record of 94.79 mph. He also won the 1947 North West 200 and came second in the Isle of Man TT.
Bell’s performance at the TT secured him a place on the Norton team and he went on to win the 1948 500 cc Senior TT. In 1950, Norton brought out the Featherbed frame and it helped Bell win the 350 cc Junior race. Bell also did well in the 1950 Dutch TT and Swiss Grand Prix.
However, Bell’s life would be forever changed during the 1950 Belgian Grand Prix. He was involved in a high-speed crash on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. He collided with a Les Graham and sustained various injuries. Bells was lucky enough to survive, though he couldn’t race again. It’s unfortunate because many considered Bell to be a great rider that hadn’t been able to reach his full potential.
Bell passed away in County Down on the 7th August 1972. In 1996, the Irish Post Office released a set of stamps that included notable Irish motorcyclists. Bell was among them and he will always be remembered as one of the greatest Irish motorbike riders of all time.