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Harry Schell

29th June 1921 – 13th May 1960

Henry O'Reilly Schell was an American, born in Paris in 1921. Both his mother, Lucy O'Reilly Schell, and father Selim Laurence Schell were involved in motorsport. Lucy raced Bugattis with some success, and rallied with her husband Laury, with their best finish being second at the Monte Carlo rally. The couple also established their own racing team, called Écurie Bleue. After Laury died in a car crash in 1939, and with the onset of the Second World War, Lucy moved backed to America, as did Harry after a short stint with the Finnish Air Force.

Early Days

After serving in the United States Tank Corps during the war, Harry moved back to Europe and raced Coopers in Formula 3 and Formula 2, and was the first to enter a Cooper in a Formula One World Championship Grand Prix, at Monaco in 1950. Unfortunately the race was marred by an accident during the first lap, when a wave from the harbour flooded the track at Tabac, causing a pile up which took out nine cars inluding Harry's Cooper.

In 1951 Schell got a couple of F1 drives with a Maserati 4CLT, and in 1952 he got three starts with same Swiss team, Enrico Platé. For 1953 he raced with Equipe Gordini entering seven races, and in 54 he was back with Maserati, starting six Grands Prix.

1955 was a mixed assortment of entries for Schell, with one championship start for Maserati, two races for Ferrari, one of which he didn't start, and two for Vanwall. By the end of 1955 Harry had still not scored a point in F1, but his wins in non championship events at Snetterton and Castle Combe suggested he was capable of doing so.

And he proved it in 1956, finishing fourth in the Belgian Grand Prix to score his first points for Vanwall, whilst also winning the non championship Grand Prix de Caen in a Maserati.

When Vanwall decided to switch to an all British driver team for 1957, Schell had to move back to Maserati. In spite of this, he scored ten championship points, his best haul yet.



Harry Schell moved to the BRM team after the first race in Argentina in 1959, which the Bourne team had not taken part in.

In spite of the BRM P25 having a reputation for being unreliable, Schell managed to finish six races, took a second place at Zandvoort, scored his highest points total ever, finished fifth equal in the Drivers' Championship, and helped BRM to fourth place in the inaugural International Cup for F1 Manufacturers.

It was Schell's best season ever, and BRMs best so far. All of which must have been a huge encouragement for both the team and driver.


Schell drove for BRM again in 1959, but seemed to be off the pace, as well as suffering from reliability problems. He retired from three races, finished seventh three times, and his only points scoring finishes were a fourth in Britain, and a fifth place in Portugal.

Nevertheless BRM moved up to third in the International Cup for F1 Manufacturers, and Schell's team mate Bonnier took a maiden vistory for the team.


By 1960 Harry Schell was approaching forty, and was dropped by BRM. He privately entered a Cooper-Climax at the first race of the season in Argentina, under the Écurie Bleue banner, his parents' team name.

Before the start of the European championship races, Schell was contracted to race for the British Racing Partnership for the rest of the season.

Unfortunately though, Harry died in practise for a non championship race at Silverstone on the 13th of May 1960. His Cooper slid wide at Abbey, lost a wheel and somersaulted through a safety barrier, crashing into a brick wall, which collapsed.