Scott Stoddard 1935 – 2016

Scott Stoddard, the fictitious Formula 1 driver, who played a key role in John Frankenheimer’s epic movie Grand Prix in 1966, has died at the age of 80. The character was played by English actor Brian Bedford.

Brian Bedford (aka Scott Stoddard) with the gorgeous Françoise Hardy, during the filming of Grand Prix
Brian Bedford (aka Scott Stoddard) with the gorgeous Françoise Hardy, during the filming of Grand Prix
A Yorkshireman, Bedford studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) in London, with classmates who included Peter O’Toole, Albert Finney and Alan Bates. He made his name primarily on the stage, winning one Tony Award and being nominated six times. He appeared in a number of films, but is best remembered for Grand Prix, although he was also the voice of Robin Hood in the Walt Disney animated feature of that name in 1973.

Bedford became a naturalised US citizen but lived for many years in Canada.

In his role as Scott Stoddard in Grand Prix, Bedford played Pete Aron (James Garner)’s team-mate in the Jordan-BRM team. The two collided at Monaco and Stoddard suffered serious injuries and Aron was fired by the team as a result. As Stoddard struggled to recover, Aron had an affair with Stoddard’s unhappy wife Pat (played by Jessica Walter) and signed for the new Japanese Yamura team. The film reaches its showdown at Monza with Aron, Stoddard and the two Manetta (read Ferrari) drivers Nino Barlini and Jean-Pierre Sarti in the running for the World Championship. In the race Sarti crashed and was fatally injured, while Barlini was withdrawn following the crash, leaving Stoddard and Aron to race to the finish, with Aron winning and becoming champion.

The irony was that Bedford was chosen for the role despite the fact that he did not drive.

24 thoughts on “Scott Stoddard 1935 – 2016

  1. Grand Prix was a fine film. Brings back memories of staying up untill the start of the Australian Grand Prix. Back in the day the beeb always used to show this during the night before coverage started.

    I was always sad when Sarti bought it at the end…

    Wasn’t it also the case that the chap who played Barlini didn’t drive also and all the action shots of him driving he was actually being towed. I believe the actor (was what you’d call back then) a bit full of himself and the tow drivers delighted in towing him at break neck speeds to bing him down a peg or two!

  2. Of the actors playing drivers I think only Antonio Sabato is still with us. Almost all of the actors and real drivers are deceased, while all of the actresses are still around.

  3. I thought Bedford and the actor playing Sarti (Belmondo?) Gave the best portrayals of drivers, at least at the time the flick was made.

  4. Didn’t they run Formula 2 (or whatever it was called) cars as camera cars during actual Grands Prix? We also saw a bunch of lower formula cars added as filler, IICR. Great film.

    1. No camera cars in the races. Frankenheimer used a GT40 as a camera car driven by Phil Hill for track sequences. Also the first use of video assist so the director could see what the camera sees during filming.

  5. I thought they actually called the Ferrari team “Ferrari”, not Manetta. Is Mr Saward correct on this? John Frankenheimer said he was able to film footage around Monaco and show 30 minutes to Enzo Ferrari. Enzo was so impressed he cooperated and the other teams came on board too.

    Frankenheimer wanted Steve McQueen to play Aron but McQueen and the money men strongly disagreed on money so Garner got the role. Bob Bondurant commented that Garner was good enough that if he started earlier in life, he could have driven on the F1 tour. Not good enough to be champion, though.

    I always feel that with today’s small cameras, F1 and Indy Car broadcasters should watch “Grand Prix” to duplicate catching the excitement of driving fast.

    Frankenheimer commented in 2002 that he was able to get Jim Clark (another others), making about $50,000 a year, to drive for $500 a week. Where if he tried to make the movie in 2002 and pay Michael Schumacher $3,000 a week, he’d be lucky if Schumacher came out of his trailer to say “no”.

    But, hey, Bernie says films and other social media doesn’t promote interest or sell tickets.

  6. “…the Jordan-BRM team”. Is this the race team once owned by the gentleman who is currently a Formula One pundit on the BBC?

  7. It’s funny how memories are triggered. I very much recall 1966 and the fuss in some quarters by Frankenheimer ‘intruding’ on the running of some of the Grands Prix that summer.

    An especially ‘fussed’ quarter was the much missed DSJ. I recalled a rather feisty comment he made in his Monaco 1966 race report: “In amongst the cars practising was the Lotus-Climax V8 1 1/2-litre that Baghetti “pranged” at Siracusa, suitably straightened it was entered under number 20 and Phil Hill drove it. On the front was a movie camera and he circulated around, trying not to get in the way, and took “action” shots. Certain members of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association opened their mouths to complain but before they could make a sound someone stuffed bundles of dollars into the mouths and that shut them up!”

    Love it!

  8. Was this not the film where James Garner went off into the sea? It was the hilarious scene of actor, director, producer, crew, stuntman crane operator, all speaking different languages while Rockford was drenched and frozen, having supposedly just been pulled from the bay and slowly loosing his temper. I am sure I read about it twenty or so years ago.
    Anyway one of the few decent racing films. Le Mans with Steve McQueen is another favourite.

    1. Apparently there was a merchant who was complaining about the filming interfering with his business and wanting more money. Held things up and Garner wasn’t happy about that.

    2. I’m ashamed of myself for hankering after just one corner which has the sea as a run-off area. Sorry. I know I don’t deserve to be called a true fan.

  9. Great film, like many others I own a copy, and enjoy its brilliance on occasion.
    RIP Brian – he plays the character of Scott brilliantly.
    Francois is truly beautiful.

    Watched a great doc on Steve McQueen the other night, must purchase a copy of LeMans, and Bullitt – almost embarrassed to say that I have not seen the car chase. Is it really as good as those in the original Max Max (flimed without road closures or police approval) – will wait to see.

    If it is not considered inappropriate may I add my voice to the sad noting of Alan Rickmans death as well, despite he not having a recognised association with motorsport. A great actor, many moving performances, lost to us too early by my reckoning.

  10. Obscure trivia: Jessica Walter is still acting and provides a voice for the animated comedy ‘Archer’ which is clearly made by a car but. The show has had an extended Bullit homage, and the first series had an episode set around the Monaco grand Prix, including 1960s styled open wheelers. A great show if you enjoy risqué humour.

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