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“Stefan was crazy. He was one of the boldest guys ever in racing sports”, remembers Helmut Fischer. “That kid drove like hell.” In his 620-horsepower Porsche 956, Stefan Bellof still holds the all-time record for the fastest lap ever on the famed Nürburgring Nordschleife, completing the 20.81 km (12.93 miles) circuit in six minutes, 11.13 seconds. His car was capable of 240 miles per hour and had proven to be nearly unbeatable in the early 1980s. No wonder Bellof soon received the nickname “King of the Ring” and was regarded as one of the most promising drivers of his generation.
Was he totally fearless? Angelika Langner-Grohs, Bellof’s fiancée back in the 80s, says: “He always said he had no fear, but the night before a race he used to toss and turn in bed.” In 1984, Bellof became the dominant force in Sportscar racing and won the World Sportscar Championship before entering the Formula 1 for Tyrrell Racing. On his feet back then: PUMA racing shoes. “Armin Dassler was very keen to work with Stefan”, Helmut says, remembering his first meeting with the ambitious German. He became the first driver to wear PUMA shoes in Formula One.
Tragically, Stefan Bellof, who was soon offered a contract by Enzo Ferrari, never had the chance to prove his talents behind the wheel of a Ferrari. Aged 27, he died in a car accident on the Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium at a World Sportscar Championship race on September 1, 1985. “As bold as he was, Stefan’s monster of a car ultimately became his coffin”, Helmut says. “It remains a tragedy in Motorsport history that Stefan Bellof never had the chance to reach his full potential.”