Bernard (‘Bernie’) Charles Ecclestone was born in Suffolk, England
An entrepreneur by instinct, after studying physics at Woolwich Polytechnic, he joined a gas company as a chemist and then went into business selling motorcycles establishing the largest motorcycle dealership and car manufacturer’s distributorship in Kent. As Bernie’s business interests grew and diversified into property, so too began his involvement in motor-racing. He raced motorcycles from the age of 16 moving then onto car racing. He competed in the first ever round of the Formula One World Championship, the 1951 British Grand Prix, but it was inevitable that his shrewd entrepreneurial character would be a big help in advising his friend Stuart Lewis Evans and the late Jochen Rindt, also a close friend, who became the posthumous World champion in 1967 and with him ran the factory Lotus racing F2 Team and then bought the Connaught Formula One Team. After closing the Connaught team he bought Brabham. The Brabham team enjoyed Grand Prix success with its innovative car designs under his ownership and won three world Championships.
In 1972, he took control of virtually running Formula One selling Brabham in 1987 to dedicate himself to the commercial development of the sport itself and undoubtedly this is the chapter in his career for which he is best known and from which he has derived most success. He single-handedly transformed Formula One from an expensive hobby for wealthy gentleman racers into the global multi-billion dollar industry that it is today, taking a fair few business risks along the way. Taking place in 20 countries on 5 continents every year in front of millions of spectators and watched on TV by hundreds of millions of fans, F1 is now the most popular annual sporting spectacle in the world. It is also a platform for pioneering research and development in the automotive industry.
Bernie’s achievements, with Professor Watkins, has been the driving force behind safety improvements in Formula One, including the state-of-the-art hospital and surgical facilities deployed at every Formula One race, which now make it possible for a driver to survive crashes and impacts that would almost certainly have killed the drivers of yesteryear.
One might assume that Bernie might be thinking of taking things a little easier, but he has no plans to slow down. As the Chief Executive Officer of the Formula One group, he continues to take Formula One to new horizons.