Rallying: Mr Bean a vintage runner at 61

BOB BEAN first entered the RAC Rally the year England won the World Cup, 1966, long before he gained his current identity.

A renovator for period property by profession, a "farmer and drinker" by way of recreation, he is a rally driver by compulsion and content to take all the ribbing his name attracts if it brings in a little more financial backing.

Although he drives a Vauxhall Astra rather than a Mini in the renamed Rally of Great Britain, he joyfully carries a Mr Bean sticker on his windscreen.

Bean reckons this will be "something like my 21st" venture into the fabled forests and acknowledges that, at the age of 61, there may not be many more efforts left in him.

"Every year I say this may be my last but on the odd occasion when I haven't taken part I've regretted it," he said.

"I've been so miserable. I can't watch it. I'm a poor spectator. The thing is it's still a drug for me. It's in the blood. I'm still feeling fit enough so as long as I am, and I can afford it, I'll carry on."

Expense is the inescapable handicap. He has trimmed his costs by skipping this week's recce and leaned on faithful businessmen near his farmstead home at Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire, to help cover his pounds 5,000 bill.

He welcomes Sabrina Shaw into the smitten fold and encourages her to put behind her that spectacular baptism.

"She's done the right thing by getting straight back into a car and putting it out of her mind," Bean said. "I've been upside down 13 times. About the worst was in Portugal, when I had a big roll on the edge of a cliff. The sea was 100ft below and I had to climb out through the windscreen."

He also had the medals to show for his courageous service, both overseas and in the RAC. He was third overall in the 1968 event. "It was a strange one that year," he recalled. "It was very foggy and I go quite well in conditions like that."

That perhaps explains why he is prepared to go "blind" into this rally and dispense with the pace notes most of the other competitors are compiling on the recce. A training programme is similarly deemed surplus to requirement.

"To be honest, I'm not really one for pace notes. I'm basically a sight driver because in the Sixties and Seventies we didn't have pace notes. I think that should be part of the challenge.

"I don't bother doing any training. I'm in reasonable shape. I keep pretty fit through my job, doing a lot of climbing."

If some powerful figures in the sport have their way the likes of Mr Bean will no longer be permitted to put a smile on the face of world championship rallies. Surprisingly, he accepts that development has to come.

"It will be sad but it is the only way for rallying to go forward. It's become so professional now. The money that's been spent now is incredible. In fact it's more expensive all the way down. The cars are much better prepared than they used to be."

For as long as he can, however, Mr Bean will ride on. This week he and his wife - the "chief cook and bottle washer" - will leave their 20 cows and chickens in the care of her parents and head for Cheltenham. There he will team up with his co-driver, Donald Griffiths, who sat alongside him on that first RAC, back in 1966.

"We'd not been together for 20-odd years but bumped into each other in the Isle of Man and decided to have another go on the RAC.

"Last year I finished second in class and 62nd overall so I'd like to do better than that, maybe get into the top 40, especially if it's foggy. But I won't be just driving to keep out of trouble. I'll be having a go. Well, you've got to, haven't you? That's what it's about."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world