May 24, 2013, 4:09 PM EST
Townsend Bell is the IndyCar color commentator on NBC Sports Network and a professional driver. He’ll drive the No. 60 Sunoco Turbo Chevrolet during the 97th Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.
My road to the Indianapolis 500 essentially started in 1986. I was 10 years old and living far away in the San Francisco area. Being 10 meant it was “my year;” my time had come in the Bell household. You see, there was this deal with my dad and my two brothers.
My father had promised us that when we turned 10, we got to select a destination for an all-expenses paid trip. Nothing lavish, but just some quality travel time between dad and his newly turned 10-year-old.
My older brother chose New York City. My younger brother would choose Alaska. My pick: the Indianapolis 500.
Mother Nature, as she can be, actually had me make the trip twice due to a rain-out on race day and in those days, the race was pushed to the following weekend. So my dad kept his word and we flew back out to Indy and I was treated to a great race, with Bobby Rahal taking the win.
I was awestruck. I not only knew that I made the right choice for my “trip,” but I knew that I had to get back there. And not for a seat in the grandstands, no, from that point on I was determined to return to Indy in the seat of a cockpit.
It took 20 years, but in 2006 I finally made my Indy 500 debut. It was a dream come true. In each of my six starts at the famed Brickyard, I’ve had to pinch myself.
Every May, when I make my trek from California to Indianapolis, I think about those trips I took with my father back in 1986. This May was no different, and as soon as I arrived I was consumed by it all once again. The sports cars and broadcast booth can wait. This is Indy.
Sunday, I’ll be making my seventh attempt at a run for victory and the chance to plant my face firmly on the Borg-Warner Trophy. I’ve still got the passion of a 10-year-old boy, and now it’s matched with the experience/determination of a veteran.
What’s more, I’m driving an iconic livery. Mark Donohue made the Sunoco colors synonymous with the winner’s circle at Indy in 1972. Now I’m looking to do the same, at least before DreamWorks Animation does.
“Turbo,” the new 3D animated comedy debuts in theaters on July 17 and my No. 60 Sunoco Chevy is visibly featured in the DreamWorks film. I’d just like to make the car an Indy 500 winner before its run on the big screen.
Reuniting with Panther Racing this month has been fantastic. The team has given me a great car and I’ve been impressed with their operation. Their focus and preparation has not only served me well, but has been a benefit to my sponsors, including Sunoco, Turbo, Bowers & Wilkins, EcoDrink, Robert Graham, Motegi Racing, Heelys, and Sargent & Lundy.
Could 2013 be “my year,” like it was in 1986? Time will tell, but one thing is for certain, the 10 year-old in me is about to get another hell of a ride around this place.
You can follow Townsend Bell on Twitter @TownsendBell99.
Dec 10, 2013, 4:05 PM EST
Darrell Wallace Jr., who became the first African-American driver to win a NASCAR national series race in almost 50 years this past October at Martinsville Speedway, is set to return to the Camping World Truck Series is 2014. Fox Sports’ Ray Dunlap said via Twitter this morning that Wallace will once again drive for Kyle…
Dec 10, 2013, 2:35 PM EST
In an interview with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, former Sprint Cup team owner James Finch (pictured, left, from 2009) announced his intentions to field a car for the 2014 Daytona 500. Finch sold Phoenix Racing in August to Harry Scott, Jr., a co-owner of NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series outfit Turner Scott Motorsports. But…
Dec 10, 2013, 2:00 PM EST
We ordinarily don’t touch too much on the automotive sector here on MotorSportsTalk, but two big pieces of news regarding General Motors have just come down in the last 24-plus hours. Via CNBC, on Monday the U.S. Treasury Department sold its final shares, and announced it had recovered $39 billion of the $49.5 billion it…
Dec 10, 2013, 1:30 PM EST
After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, my colleague Tony DiZinno and I are taking a look back on how each of the 13 Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders fared this past year. Rounding out the 2013 Chasers in 13th place…
Dec 10, 2013, 1:15 PM EST
After a successful 2013 in both IndyCars and sports cars, British driver Mike Conway is looking forward to getting 2014 underway in earnest with a test session next week at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway for Ed Carpenter Racing. Conway, who won Detroit Race 1 for Dale Coyne Racing and also claimed four race wins with…
Dec 10, 2013, 1:00 PM EST
After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, my colleague Tony DiZinno and I are taking a look back on how each of the 13 Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders fared this past year. Collecting two wins this season but finishing 12th…
Dec 10, 2013, 12:30 PM EST
After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, my colleague Tony DiZinno and I are taking a look back on how each of the 13 Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders fared this past year. In his final year with Stewart-Haas Racing, Ryan…
Dec 10, 2013, 12:00 PM EST
After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, my colleague Tony DiZinno and I are taking a look back on how each of the 13 Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders fared this past year. Finishing 10th in the standings with the Colorado-based…
Dec 10, 2013, 11:43 AM EST
Sebastian Vettel has spoken up on the FIA’s idea of double points for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. And he’s not a fan. “This is absurd and punishes those who have worked hard for a whole season,” Vettel told the German newspaper Bild. ”You can hardly imagine that on the last match of the Bundesliga season, (soccer)…
Dec 10, 2013, 11:10 AM EST
It’s obvious Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing’s dominance of Formula One over the last few years has now triggered the FIA to make some changes. While most F1 fans can agree changes are needed, it’s the kind of changes being implemented that are rather stupefying at first read-through. With history as a guide, we…
Dec 10, 2013, 10:12 AM EST
Juan Pablo Montoya. In a Team Penske IndyCar. At Phoenix International Raceway. This is as close to a stocking stuffer as could be possible for IndyCar fans this time of year, especially considering that the series itself won’t be racing at the flat, challenging 1-mile oval anytime soon. But Montoya’s testing there today, in what…
Dec 10, 2013, 10:01 AM EST
Yesterday, the FIA announced a raft of rule changes that ran the gamut from double points being offered for the season finale in Abu Dhabi, permanent numbers for drivers, a yet-undetermined number for a cost cap for 2015, and five-second penalties being introduced. When we asked for your thoughts on Twitter, you responded in great…
Dec 10, 2013, 9:32 AM EST
The idea of imposing a two-stop requirement for Formula One in 2014, mooted last week, appears to be just that: an idea that won’t be implemented. Autosport reported Tuesday that teams are outright rejecting the proposal. It would have needed unanimous support from the 11 teams to be implemented this late in the year. Implementing…
Dec 9, 2013, 8:00 PM EST
Michael Shank Racing has confirmed that John Pew and Ozz Negri will be back with the team for the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, co-driving the No. 60 MSR Ford Ecoboost/Riley. Pew finished 14th in last year’s GRAND-AM Rolex Series championship, while Negri finished 17th despite missing several races due to a setback in his…
Dec 9, 2013, 7:00 PM EST
Audi has already banked wins in the 24-hour races at Daytona and Le Mans this year, and also in the 12 Hours of Sebring in March. Now, the manufacturer can add a 25-hour race win to its mantle … even though Thunderhill is basically a NASA club race in December. Still, a win’s a win,…
Dec 9, 2013, 6:46 PM EST
Two of NASCAR’s rising stars were at the center of a major issue during Sunday’s Snowball Derby short-track race in Pensacola, Florida. Chase Elliott, the son of former Sprint Cup champion Bill Elliott and a part-timer in the Camping World Truck Series, appeared to have won the prestigious Super Late Model race as he crossed…
Dec 9, 2013, 5:10 PM EST
After an arduous 2013 season, it appears Formula One tire manufacturer Pirelli will have ample opportunity to get it right for 2014. As part of the FIA’s raft of regulation changes issued today, Pirelli was given the green light to stage a three-day test session next week at the Bahrain International Circuit. All F1 teams…
Dec 9, 2013, 3:28 PM EST
For one day, Dale Earnhardt Jr. traded in his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for a new ride – a pink, Power Wheels 4×4. It’s all part of Earnhardt’s recent collaboration with star YouTube video producer Devin Graham that involved a “cardboard rodeo” at Dale Jr.’s property in North Carolina. With the help of an…
Dec 9, 2013, 2:00 PM EST
All three Andersen Promotions-run series in the Mazda Road to Indy ladder, Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000, are underway in the Chris Griffis Memorial Road to Indy test this week at Barber Motorsports Park. Some news and notes about the driver/team combinations to follow: INDY LIGHTS USF2000 drivers Michael Epps and Alexandre Baron will…
Dec 9, 2013, 1:45 PM EST
A meeting of the F1 Strategy Group and Formula One Commission today in Paris has yielded approval of several new regulation changes, most of which will take effect in 2014. But perhaps the biggest change of all won’t come until 2015, when a budget cap will be instituted. A working group made up of representatives…
- Vettel calls double points idea “absurd” 1
- New F1 rules announced Monday create more questions than answers 2
- Cost cap, double points for Abu Dhabi part of new FIA regulation changes 9
- Team co-owned by Leonardo DiCaprio is 10th and last for FE 1
- Franchitti’s ride appears down to Briscoe or Tagliani vs. the field 2
- Eddie Gossage: “Foolish move” by F1 to go head-to-head with NASCAR at Texas (12)
- GP of America organizers issue statement on race postponement (10)
- IndyCar TV sked for 2014 released; 13 races to be shown on NBCSN (9)
- Cost cap, double points for Abu Dhabi part of new FIA regulation changes (9)
- NASCAR Sprint Cup silly season update for 2014 (8)