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.
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 In the race Sarti crashed and was fatally injured, while Barlini was withdrawn following the crash, leaving Stoddard and Aron to race to the finish, with Aron winning and becoming champion.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.