Merckx and Ickx feted as Belgium's speed demons

Fri Dec 19, 2014 12:34am EST
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By Barbara Lewis

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Eddy Merckx did it on a bicycle, Jacky Ickx drove fast for Formula 1. Now that both are approaching 70, an exhibition is celebrating their feats as two of history's speediest Belgians.

The stunning accomplishments of the "fast friends" are chronicled in an exhibition that runs until June 21, just after Merckx’s 70th birthday on June 17. Ickx turns 70 on Jan. 1.

"This exhibition is ideal to refresh the memory. It's a fine testimony of everything we accomplished," Merckx said at the official opening earlier this month.

"It allowed me to look back and ask myself how I managed to win so many times."

The exhibition is at the Trade Mart at Heysel, on the northern edge of Brussels, notorious for a football stadium disaster of 1985 in which 39 people died.

Merckx and Ickx diced with death, but say their guardian angels saved them as they emerged hurt but alive from crashes that could have killed them.

Ickx, whose six wins of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France earned him the title "Monsieur Le Mans", was pulled from the flaming wreck of his car in the 1970 Grand Prix at Jarama, Spain.

The exhibition includes the semi-melted crash helmet he was wearing.   Continued...

Belgian five-time Tour de France and Giro d'Italia winner Eddy Merckx smiles as he prepares to cycle to London for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, at the Belgium Olympics Committee headquarters in Brussels in this July 25, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Laurent Dubrule/Files