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Bluebelle Gibbs 1908-1972


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#1 oliver heal

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Posted 01 June 2021 - 12:06

Motivated by the B.F.I. 1952 film of racing at Silverstone which features Bluebelle and concious that it will shortly be 50 years since she died I thought it would be good to try to summarise her career. Was her motor sport career the longest of any female competitor?

 

Born 1908 Ruby Bluebell(e) Slade. She accompanied her father as sidecar passenger on a trial for the first time in 1923 aged 15. In 1927 father George was in the sidecar and Bluebelle was on the bike.

 

1930 - 1939 supported by the Norton Works she rode in trials.

1937 married another Trials rider Len Gibbs.

 

1952 competed in lightweight H.R.G. Eight Clubs Meeting, Silverstone.

1955 June Silverstone 8 Clubs Mtg. 4th place 5 lap handicap. 2nd place 5 lap scratch. H.R.G.

1956 June Silverstone. H.R.G.

1962 May Silverstone AMOC Mtg 30 lap race. Lola Mk1 1097cc.

1965 Aug. Castle Combe. 10 lap scratch race 3rd place Lola Mk1.

1966 June. Silverstone BARC mtg. 1st place handicap race Lola Mk1.

1967 Oct. silverstone BARC mtg. 1st place sports racing & clubmans class, Lola Mk1.

1969 Nov. Silverstone Sprint. 1st place. Lola Mk1.

1970 Sept. Silverstone Peterborough MC 10 lap race. 2nd place Lola Mk1.

 

1972 Bluebelle died. Fell from ladder when trimming wisteria age 63.

 

Does anyone have photos of her racing? Would like to put together a display for heritage weekend.

 



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#2 Sterzo

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Posted 02 June 2021 - 08:55

What an incredible history - and surprising to read Bluebelle was her given name rather than a nickname. Here is a longer list of her race entries:

 

https://www.racingsp...e-Gibbs-GB.html

 

I thought I'd seen her race at Oulton Park, but maybe not. More probably it was at the 1957 Mallory Park meetng.



#3 ReWind

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Posted 02 June 2021 - 09:15

... surprising to read Bluebelle was her given name ...

Not exactly. Her second given name was Bluebell. No third E at the end.



#4 john winfield

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Posted 02 June 2021 - 11:43

What an incredible history - and surprising to read Bluebelle was her given name rather than a nickname. Here is a longer list of her race entries:

 

https://www.racingsp...e-Gibbs-GB.html

 

I thought I'd seen her race at Oulton Park, but maybe not. More probably it was at the 1957 Mallory Park meetng.

 

If Oliver (thanks again for identifying Bluebell on the film) or anyone else is compiling her racing history, I have a couple of events to add to the Racing Sportscar record.

 

5.9.64  Silverstone  SUNBAC  RBG entered for two races in the Lola: Event 2, Sports Cars under 1200cc, and Event 9, Libre.

 

3.10 64  Silverstone  Clubmen's Championship  RBG/Lola entered for the Sports Car race, won by Paul Hawkins, with fastest lap by Charles Lucas...I think.

 

I can't confirm whether Bluebell started these three races or, if she did, where she finished. Autosports might help.

 

 

What a marvellous career she seems to have had, but what a sad way to go! 


Edited by john winfield, 02 June 2021 - 11:44.


#5 oliver heal

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Posted 02 June 2021 - 17:43

Thank you very much for that feedback. 

As far as her name is concerned it appears she started off without a third "e" but over the years it grew! On her gravestone there is no mention of Ruby and her name is spelled Bluebelle. So that is what I have used.

 

Can anyone tell me what Len Gibbs' middle name was? From his signature it could begin with a C but I am not sure.

 

I was brought up on the story that Bluebelle rode sidecar for her father until he was too old to manage the bike, at which point they swapped over. However the facts don't quite support the story. She was riding the bike in 1927 and yet George Slade was still competing in the Lands End Trial in 1930 with his young 15 yr old apprentice Herbert Druce in the sidecar. Father was evidently keen to encourage youngsters into the sport.

 

Any suggestions of sources of photos?



#6 AdamFerrington

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Posted 02 June 2021 - 18:09

Thank you very much for that feedback. 

As far as her name is concerned it appears she started off without a third "e" but over the years it grew! On her gravestone there is no mention of Ruby and her name is spelled Bluebelle. So that is what I have used.

 

Can anyone tell me what Len Gibbs' middle name was? From his signature it could begin with a C but I am not sure.

He was Leonard Ernest Gibbs, born 19th July 1904.

They were married in quarter 3 of 1936 (July-Sept), not in 1937.

Ruby’s date of birth is give as 7th November 1908 in the 1939 Register (Census), and at her death.

She died on 1st April 1972.



#7 ReWind

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Posted 02 June 2021 - 19:13

Ancestry.com claims she died in June 1972.


Edited by ReWind, 02 June 2021 - 19:56.


#8 AdamFerrington

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Posted 02 June 2021 - 19:15

Ancestry.com claims the died in June 1972.

Reinhard,

 

Her probate record quotes 1st April 1972 as the date of her death.

This should be very reliable.



#9 Geoff E

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Posted 02 June 2021 - 19:21

Ancestry.com claims the died in June 1972.

 

BMD records at that time were indexed by the quarter in which the event was registered- March, June, Sept and December. An April death would be registered in the June quarter.



#10 Tim Murray

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Posted 02 June 2021 - 19:33

Her death was noted in Autosport for 13th April 1972:

It is with very great regret that we have to record the death of Bluebelle Gibbs after a fall at her home over Easter. Bluebelle Gibbs with her husband Len was a very popular figure at club meetings for many, many years, firstly with a Lola Mk 1 and then last year with the ex-Martin Raymond Daren; the Lola was always driven to the circuits by Bluebelle. Before she turned her hand to cars she was a regular competitor on a Norton motorcycle. She had intended to continue racing this year with the Daren and the club racing scene will never be quite the same without her. To her husband Len and family AUTOSPORT extends its deepest sympathy.


This would corroborate the 1st April death date, as that was the Saturday of the Easter weekend.

#11 Rupertlt1

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Posted 06 June 2021 - 02:53

For the white Lola see:

 

https://forums.autos...dpost&p=8583138

 

Steve Clark in Victoria, B.C., Canada, races BR31, the ex-Bluebelle Gibbs Lola Mk 1.

 

https://mydadsphotos...c/2481/comments

 

Silverstone, Maidstone and Mid-Kent Motor Club, 16th May 1953.

Race 1, for U/s sports cars up to 1,100 c.c., 10 laps

"Mrs. Gibbs came to the

line with the newly-bodied and as yet

unpainted H.R.G., with its neat enveloping bodywork."

Autosport, 22 May 1953, Page 646

Husband Len finished second in this race in a Riley.

 

Silverstone, A.M.O.C. 'Martini' 100, 14 May 1961

Bluebell Gibbs, Lotus XI

 

Silverstone, B.R.S.C.C. Commander York Trophy Meeting, Saturday 31 March 1962

Event 4, Unlimited Sports Car Race 

#141 Mrs. R. B. Gibbs, Lola, White, 1098

 

Silverstone, Nottingham Sports Car Club, Saturday 16 June 1962

#106 R. B. Gibbs, Lola Climax 1098

 

http://www.monza.org...162_0616_08.jpg

 

Silverstone, M.C.C. (The Motor Cycling Club), 30 June 1962

#39 Gibbs, Mrs. R. B., M.C.C., Lola 1097 

 

Silverstone, Clubmen's Championship, A.M.O.C., 8 Clubs, 750 M.C., 6 October 1962

Final Race: Formula Libre 10 laps

Mrs. Gibbs, Lola, 9 laps   

 

Silverstone, Peterborough Motor Club, 13th Annual Race Meeting, 14 September 1963

Race 4: "A 7-lap Scratch Race for Sports Cars of Higher Speed Potential"

#87 Mrs. R. Bluebelle Gibbs, 1098 Lola 1100 sports

 

Bluebelle Gibbs. Mrs. Gibbs is not ashamed to admit that she has been an active competitor in motoring competitions since 1923 when she went as sidecar passenger on her father’s Norton. She learned to ride a motorcycle at the age of 12 and by the age of 18 she was in the Norton works team, winning the Ladies’ Motorcycle Championship the following year. In the ensuing years she rode Enfield, Francis-Barnett, Cotton Blackburne, Raleigh and Norton machines, having a good deal of success in Trials.

Motor competitions did not feature in her programme until 1951 when she began racing the ex-Eric Thompson Le Mans 1,500-c.c. H.R.G. converted to twin overhead camshafts and became a regular supporter of Club meetings by such clubs as the M.C.C., S.U.N.B.A.C., A.M.O.C., M.M.E.C., V.S.C.C., B.A.R.C., Maidstone & Mid-Kent, Eight Clubs gaining awards in many of these meetings. Later, a rear-engined Cooper-Climax replaced the H.R.G. and this was used for some time, although Mrs. Gibbs was not happy with the rear engine layout and eventually reverted to a front-engined car, the ex-Michael Taylor Lotus XI which she races today. She is happy to stay in Club racing and as long as there is an 1,100-c.c. class she will take part along with her husband Len Gibbs who races a Lotus junior. She has a high opinion of the standard of driving in motor racing especially in National events and in her experience the newer drivers soon learn their way round. For a road car Mrs. Gibbs uses an M.G. Magnette.
Motor Sport, August 1961, Page 689

 

https://www.racingsp...e-Gibbs-GB.html

 

Mrs. Gibbs was a well known competitor at Goodwood:

 

Goodwood, B.A.R.C. 21st Members' Meeting, Ladies Handicap, 17 March 1956

 

https://library.revs...ion=p17257coll1

 

For more H.R.G., registration HXR 530 see:

 

https://library.revs...ARCHALL=HXR 530

 

Goodwood, B.A.R.C. 54th Sports Car Meeting, 22 September 1962

Event 8, 5-lap Handicap Race

1.C. A. C. Hodgson, Lotus-Climax, 8mins 39.2sec, 89.22 m.p.h.

2.Mrs. R. Bluebelle Gibbs, Lola-Climax, 9mins 01.4sec

3.J. D. A. Bromilow, Lotus-Ford, 9min 13.6sec

4.R. Redgrave, Lotus-Climax, 9min 14.6sec

Fastest lap: C. A. C. Hodgson, Lotus-Climax, 1min 34.2sec, 91.72m.p.h.

B.A.R.C. Gazette, October 1962, Page 183

 

Charles Hodgson 

 

See also: http://www.lolaherit...rs/mk1/mk1.html

 

See #51, Mallory Park, Nottingham Sports Car Club, 6th August 1956:

 

http://www.monza.org...156_0806_29.jpg

 

Mallory Park, Nottingham Sports Car Club, Easter Monday 22 April 1957

Event 4: 10-lap race for sports cars up to 1200 c.c.

#11 Mrs. R. Bluebelle Gibbs, Cooper Climax, 1098

 

See: http://www.monza.org..._04 Mallory.jpg

 

Silverstone, Peterborough Motor Club with Northampton Car Club, Saturday 15 September 1956

Five-lap handicap for sports

cars up to 1,500 c.c.:

1. C. Bristow (MGA)

2. Mrs. R. Bluebelle Gibbs (H.R.G.)

3. P. T. Ross (Lotus)

4. D. Bekaert (Lotus)

5. E. Millard (Austin) 

66.9 m.p.h.

Peterborough Advertiser, Tuesday 18 September 1956

 

 

RGDS RLT


Edited by Rupertlt1, 07 June 2021 - 07:08.


#12 mark1

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Posted 06 June 2021 - 20:14

Oliver

 

Steve Clark seems to have covered most of what I know about Bluebelle.   One addition from me is that I remember Bluebelle driving BR-31 into the paddock one morning (probably at an NSCC meeting.) with mother in the passenger seat!  I have a track photo of Bluebelle in BR-31 if you cannot locate one elsewhere.



#13 oliver heal

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Posted 10 June 2021 - 17:04

Thank you. That is all excellent and very helpful. Incidentally her mother went by the unusual name Thurza.She outlived Bluebell and died in 1978.



#14 cooper997

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Posted 14 June 2021 - 05:34

Oliver, you could already be aware, but if not... checking through some 1961 Motor Sport's for something and found the July, August & September issues have a series 'Lady Competition Drivers' features. Each lady is given a brief write up and portrait.

 

The August issue has Bluebelle on p689

 

 

Stephen.



#15 Geoff E

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Posted 14 June 2021 - 07:21

Oliver, you could already be aware, but if not... checking through some 1961 Motor Sport's for something and found the July, August & September issues have a series 'Lady Competition Drivers' features. Each lady is given a brief write up and portrait.

 

The August issue has Bluebelle on p689

 

 

Stephen.

 

Here https://www.motorspo...etition-drivers