Tributes have been paid to a popular motorcyclist who died in a racing accident.
Ian Bell was competing in the second sidecar race of the day yesterday (Friday) at the Isle of Man when the incident happened.
The 58-year-old, from Bedlington, was competing in the annual TT Races festival on the island with his son Carl, who escaped uninjured in the crash.
The popular motorcycle dealer was driving the sidecar when the accident happened at Ballaspur on the island.
Mr Bell, a sidecar veteran, was one of the stalwarts of the three-wheelers at the TT since his debut in 1995, taking the newcomers’ award in his first year and went on to five podiums and victory in the 2003 race.
And the former British champion was also an experienced solo machine competitor in the past, one of only a handful to win on both two and three wheels.
Floral tributes have been left outside his dealership in Bedlington, while hundreds of tributes were paid on social media sites Twitter and Facebook.
Organisers at the Southern 100 road racing event were among those to pay tribute to Mr Bell, who made his Southern 100 debut in 1979, finishing third in the Solo Championship race, returning each year and finally took the prestigious Solo Championship title in 1987.
In 1999, Mr Bell and passenger Neil Carpenter took the Sidecar Championship race, the first person to win both the Solo and Sidecar Championships, before repeating the feat the following year.
And ten years later, Mr Bell and his son Carl claimed the title again, Carl’s first, with the pair due back again in July.
Southern 100 Racing secretary George Peach said: “Ian was a popular solo rider when he first rode at the Southern 100 in 1979 and soon made a name for himself, especially when he claimed the Solo Championship in 1987.
“After a break of ten years, he made his Sidecar debut as a driver and once again showed his prowess around the Billown Course taking three Sidecar Championships in total.
“Ian, along with his son Carl were one of the most popular Sidecar crews in the Billown Paddock, both with the knowledgeable Sidecar enthusiasts, fans and organisers – always cheerful, even when matters were not going to plan.
“As organisers, we were looking forward to welcoming Ian and Carl to this year’s Southern 100 – sadly this is now not to be.
“Southern 100 Racing and all involved with the Billown Course wish to extend their deepest sympathy to Ian’s wife Trudi, his children Carl and Rachel and all family and friends at this very sad time.”
A statement from organisers ACU Events said: “ACU Events Ltd regrets to announce that sidecar driver Ian Bell, 58, from Bedlington, was killed following an accident at Ballaspur during today’s Sidecar Race 2 at the Isle of Man TT Races.
“Ian was competing with his son Carl who was reported to be uninjured.
“Ian, a motorcycle dealer, was married to Trudi and had two children.
“He made his TT Races debut in 1995, winning the newcomers trophy, and achieved five podiums during his TT career including a race win in 2003.
“ACU Events Ltd wishes to pass on their deepest sympathy to Ian’s family and friends.”