Bernard Charles “Bernie” Ecclestone is a British business billionaire. He is the chief executive of the Formula One Group, which manages Formula One racing and controls the commercial rights of the sport. He is also well known as the father of socialites Petra and Tamara Ecclestone. Currently, he has a net worth of $3.1 billion but his early days were far from the jet set lifestyle his family enjoys today.
Bernard Charles Ecclestone was born on October 28, 1930 in a small English village. He is the son of a fisherman. Very early in life, Ecclestone knew he’d have to make his own living in life. As a schoolboy, Bernie had two paper routes he’d run before school and then he’d go to the local bakery to buy pastries with the money he made and resell those sweet treats to his classmates for a profit. He dropped out of school at age sixteen to start working at the local gasworks testing gas purity to help support his family. Around this time, Ecclestone had a keen interest in motorcycles. He and his friend Fred Compton decided they would establish a business trading in spare parts for motorcycles. In 1945 the Compton & Ecclestone motorcycle dealership was created. Ecclestone began racing in the local motor sports circuit. Unfortunately, he had a number of motorcycle racing casualties which forced him to retire early.
His early retirement compelled Bernie Ecclestone to take alternate business paths and he entered into the world of real estate. His retirement was short-lived as he made a number of eventually lucrative investments and turned back to racing in 1957. He became the manager of British racing driver Stuart Lewis-Evans, Roy Salvadori, Archie Scott Brown, and many others.
Lewis-Evans crashed heavily during the season-ending Moroccan Grand Prix in 1958. His car engine seized up and sent him swerving into barriers at high speed, and his car burst into flames. Lewis-Evans suffered severe burns. When he succumbed to his injuries six days later, Ecclestone was once again too rattled to stay in the racing world. He temporarily left the racing world once again. It wasn’t until the early 1970s that Ecclestone would make a comeback to racing by managing teams and eventually form the Formula One Constructors Association in 1974.
The Formula One Constructors Association was created with five other men and became involved in negotiating the sport’s television rights and racing events. Ecclestone was eventually made CEO and President of Formula One Management and Formula One Administration. In 1999, Ecclestone was suffering from heart problems which resulted in him undergoing heart surgery and triple coronary bypass, despite these heart conditions Ecclestone was able to always remain energetic in promoting his own business interests. He is responsible for making Formula One racing one of the most-watched sports in the world with the television exposure he negotiated. He brought the sport to where it is today and is involved in every financial aspect of Formula One racing.
Ecclestone has been married three times. He married his first wife, Ivy Bamford, in 1952 and has a daughter named Deborah. In 1984, his Croatian model girlfriend Slavica Radic became pregnant and so they married the following year. Bernie and Slavica were married for 23 years and had two daughters, Tamara and Petra. His daughters are both celebrities in their own right and are estimated to be worth $300 million each. They divorced in 2009 and then in 2012, he married the 35-year-old Fabiana Flosi.
In 2011, Bernie Ecclestone was ranked as the 4th richest person in the UK in The Forbes World’s Billionaires List. Today, 86-year-old Ecclestone is the primary authority in Formula One racing and is commonly referred to as “F1 Supremo” in the media.