Birthday: October 28, 1930
Age: 89 Years, 89 Year Old Males
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Also Known As: Bernard Charles Ecclestone
Born in: Bungay, Suffolk, England
Famous as: Business Magnate
Height: 5'3" (160 cm), 5'3" Males
Spouse/Ex-: Fabiana Flosi (m. 2012), Ivy Bamford (m. 1952; d.), Slavica Radić (m. 1985; div. 2009)
father: Sidney Ecclestone
mother: Bertha Ecclestone
children: Deborah Ecclestone, Petra Stunt, Tamara Ecclestone
Founder/Co-Founder: Formula One Constructors Association
awards: Great Golden Medal of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria
Bernie Ecclestone is a reputed British businessman, best known as the former CEO of the ‘Formula One Group,’ the company that manages the ‘Formula One’ races around the globe. Born and raised in South Elmham, near Bungay, Suffolk, he belonged to an average British family. He left school at the age of 16 and started working at a chemical laboratory. This was followed by a brief stint in trading spare parts for motorcycles. He also turned a racer for a while, but that life did not suit him. He further amassed a huge sum, owing to his success in real estate. Thereafter, he planned to begin his racing business - his first love. He returned to the game as a manager for drivers and went on to own the team ‘Brabham.’ His successful stint with the team helped him become a key member of the ‘Formula One Constructors Association’ (FOCA). What came as the biggest breakthrough of his career was his involvement in the sales of TV rights of the sport in the late 70s. This made Ecclestone one of the richest men in the UK. He also ended up owning the British team ‘Queens Park Rangers’ in 2007, along with his business partner.
Childhood & Early Life
Bernie Ecclestone was born on October 28, 1930, in St. Peter, South Elmham, a village about three miles south of Bungay, Suffolk, England. His father worked as a fisherman. He started attending school in his locality, before the family moved to Danson Road. He exhibited sharp business instincts as a kid and started earning money in his early teens.
He sold newspapers and indulged in some small-level business enterprises, such as purchasing bakery buns in bulk for at a low price and selling them later, at a profit, to his classmates. At the age of 16, no longer interested in academics, he quit high school and started working at a local chemical laboratory of a local gas house.
By then, his interest in racing had peaked. He also learned the anatomy of motorcycles and started selling motor parts with his friend Fred Compton. This further paved way for him to start his very own dealership, and his efforts and enthusiasm toward his business enterprise had him earning money quickly. Toward the late 40s, the Second World War was over and ‘Compton & Ecclestone’ was fast racing toward success.
By 1949, he had started participating in races and mostly raced on his local track, ‘Brands Hatch.’ Although he was an amateur, his performance mostly remained above average. He intended to lengthen his racing career, but several accidents and his wish to concentrate more on his business enterprises had him quitting the racing circle.
He moved on to make some fast and easy money, and the booming loan-financing and real-estate sectors captured his attention. He went on to manage the ‘Weekend Car Auctions’ firm.
His business ventures were big, but not big enough to help him realize his dream of becoming a millionaire. Hence, he decided to associate himself with ‘Formula One’ again, this time as a manager.
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In 1957, he started managing the ace racer Stuart Lewis–Evans and worked with him for more than a year. A brutal accident at the 1958 ‘Moroccan Grand Prix’ had Lewis dying on the track. This accident shook Bernie to his core, and he retired from ‘Formula One again.’ For the next few years, he indulged in other ventures, and several years later, he ventured into managing once again, with the racing driver Jochen Rindt.
In 1971, he welcomed a major milestone of his professional life. He was approached by Ron Tauranac, who owned the ‘Brabham’ team and was looking for a business partner. Instead of agreeing to be his partner, Bernie offered to buy the team, and the deal was soon finalized.
By the beginning of the 1972 season, Bernie had full control over the team, which had him doing certain modifications. Such changes did not work in team’s favor initially. As a result, the 1972 season turned out to be a failure for the team. He fired the team designer and hired Gordon Murray as the chief designer. By the time the 1974 and the 1975 seasons arrived, ‘Brabham’ had recorded several victories on many tracks.
Bernie remained a controversial figure in ‘Formula One.’ He frequently experimented with the designs and engines of his cars. His experiments often ended up in failure. Toward the end of 1987 season, Bernie had made up his mind to sell his team, and it was finally sold to a Swiss businessman for US$ 5 million, and garnered a huge profit margin.
At the same time, he was offered a place in the ‘FOCA,’ an organization that he had co-founded. In 1978, he was appointed as the CEO of ‘FOCA,’ which was a direct rival of the ‘Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile’ (FISA), another major ‘Formula One’ organizer. The clash between the two giants was mostly over the TV rights, as Bernie knew it was going to be an extremely profitable deal for all the parties involved with the sport.
For this purpose, he founded the ‘Formula One Promotions and Administration’ (FOPA), which suggested that 47% of the total revenue from the TV rights must be given to the teams, and 30% and 23% to the ‘FIA’ and the ‘FOPA,’ respectively. All through the next decade, the TV rights kept shuffling around between all the parties involved and it led to the ‘Concorde Agreement’ in 1997. The agreement stated that Bernie would pay an amount annually and would keep the TV rights, in return.
‘The Concorde Agreement’ had a validity period and finally expired in 2007. The contract he had with the ‘FIA’ too expired in 2012. Following the takeover of ‘Formula One’ by ‘Liberty Media’ in 2016, Bernie was removed from his position as the CEO of the ‘Formula One Group.’
He is known as the man who singlehandedly brought international recognition to ‘Formula One.’ Several biographies of Bernie have been published, tracing his life from being a failed ‘Formula One’ driver to a successful business tycoon.
Life had not always been a bed of roses for Bernie Ecclestone. He is known to be reckless in his interactions with the media. A major controversy erupted in the early 2000s, when he compared women with “domestic appliances.” He received a lot of flak from feminist groups and later apologized. In 2016, he further annoyed feminist groups by saying that no team would take a woman driver “seriously” because women drivers are not physically fit to drive fast cars.
In 2009, he praised Hitler, saying that although whatever he did was evil, he also got a lot of things done. Bernie also spoke poorly about democracy. He further said that Max Mosley, the son of fascist leader Oswald Mosley, would do a great job as the prime minister.
He was dubbed as the fourth richest person in the UK by ‘Forbes’ in 2011, with his total estimated fortune being US$ 4.2 billion.
Bernie Ecclestone has married three times. He was first married to Ivy Ecclestone, with whom he had a daughter, Deborah. He has five grandchildren from his daughter.
Bernie was also in a long-term relationship with Tuana Tan. He later married Slavica Radic. He had a 23-year marriage with Slavica, with whom he had two daughters, Tamara and Petra. In November 2008, Slavica filed for divorce, which was ultimately granted in 2009, with Bernie ending up paying a huge amount as settlement.
In April 2012, news reports claimed that Bernie was engaged to the vice-president of marketing for the ‘Brazilian Grand Prix,’ Fabiana Flosi. She happens to be 47 years younger than Bernie and their marriage was revealed in August 2012.