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.
Jan 27, 2015, 3:46 PM EST
Car owner Gene Haas confirms this is the final year of Danica Patrick’s contract but says he wants Patrick back.
Jan 27, 2015, 3:15 PM EST
Yeley ran the final seven races of 2014 in BK’s No. 83 Toyota.
Jan 27, 2015, 2:53 PM EST
While teammate Kevin Harvick won the Sprint Cup championship in 2014, Danica Patrick, Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart all came up short. Which driver will bounce back the most in 2015?
Jan 27, 2015, 2:45 PM EST
While some media may think 2014 was a sub-par year for her, Danica Patrick believes last season was just the opposite, a season of growth and improvement that she hopes to extend into the 2015 Sprint Cup campaign.
Jan 27, 2015, 2:15 PM EST
Al Unser Sr. gets a day of honor at IMS this month of May.
Jan 27, 2015, 2:08 PM EST
RTA chairman Rob Kauffman deflected several questions Tuesday about the organization, which represents virtually every team in NASCAR’s premier series.
Jan 27, 2015, 2:05 PM EST
Former Sprint Cup champ finished sixth in first ‘500’ appearance last year.
Jan 27, 2015, 1:32 PM EST
One year after his last comeback effort fell short, Bobby Hamilton Jr. is back to try it again with Carter 2 Motorsports in a full-time ARCA season racing effort.
Jan 27, 2015, 1:15 PM EST
Sauber will have its new car launch on Friday, and also has confirmed HP partnership.
Jan 27, 2015, 1:00 PM EST
The 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule and race times was announced Tuesday.
Jan 27, 2015, 12:40 PM EST
Race times for the inaugural season of the new Xfinity Series were announced Tuesday.
Jan 27, 2015, 12:32 PM EST
Annett will bring his Pilot/Flying J sponsorship with him to HScott Motorsports, where he’ll team up with Justin Allgaier.
Jan 27, 2015, 12:15 PM EST
NASCAR releases start times for all 36 Cup points races plus Daytona 500 prelims, the All-Star Race, and the Sprint Showdown.
Jan 27, 2015, 11:54 AM EST
Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner says his team is working with Joe Gibbs Racing, countering claims Kyle Busch made about the collaboration between the teams.
Jan 27, 2015, 11:22 AM EST
Clint Bowyer said of his relationship with Jeff Gordon: “You’re never good with somebody when it got that ugly.”
Jan 27, 2015, 11:22 AM EST
NASCAR’s parent company, International Speedway Corporation, showed healthy growth in both the fourth quarter of 2014, as well as for the overall 2014 fiscal year, it was announced Tuesday.
Jan 27, 2015, 10:59 AM EST
Vickers will be back in the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota at Las Vegas in March.
Jan 27, 2015, 10:00 AM EST
MWR test driver will compete in Vickers’ car at the second race of the 2015 Sprint Cup season.
Jan 26, 2015, 8:45 PM EST
NASCAR heavily is considering using the May 16 showcase as a trial run of the rules package for the 2016 season and has begun informing Sprint Cup teams of the possibility.
Jan 26, 2015, 8:33 PM EST
Quick recap for Day 1 of 3 in South Florida for the Indy Lights contingent.
Video from NASCAR America
- Danica Patrick enters final year of contract but wants to stay at Stewart-Haas 0
- Start times for 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races 2
- Bowyer on Gordon: “You’re never good with somebody when it got that ugly” 14
- NASCAR considers unveiling 2016 rules at Sprint All-Star Race in May 2
- Kyle Busch says Toyota teams are “idiots” by not working close together 19
- Brian France: State of NASCAR is in a good place and getting better 5
- NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett to join NASCAR coverage on NBC, NBCSN 4