Townsend Bell Nabs 2nd at Watkins Glen, 3rd in the Championship
Watkins Glen, NY (October 3, 1999)- Racing under the vibrantly-colored fall leaves of upstate New York's Watkins Glen International Raceway, Townsend Bell drove his #21 DirecPC, PC World Magazine Reynard Dodge to a second place finish that secured his 3rd place in the championship. Sunday at the "1999 Sports Car Octoberfest at The Glen" found drivers in Round 12 of the series running the full 3.4 mile, 11-turn course. Despite only one 30-minute practice session and a new track configuration for Bell, he nonetheless qualified 6th, and quickly started his run up the grid.
By turn 1, Bell, of Costa Mesa, CA, had already passed three cars. As the pack reached the inner loop, Bell passed Todd Snyder for 2nd place, but soon had an off-track excursion from which he quickly recovered. Bell worked his way back onto the rear wing of Snyder on lap 16, and again on the inner loop, passed Todd Snyder for 2nd place. Regarding this daring pass, Bell said there is "Good, clean racing at the front of the field; all the front runners seem to have mutual respect, though we may take that respect to the limits, and today was no exception." Bell continued his charge and was catching up to first-place finisher Nilton Rossoni of Brazil when the checkered flag fell on the 19-lap race.
Round 12 was the last race of the 1999 Barber Dodge series, and his strong finish put Bell in 3rd place in the championship behind reigning champ Jeff Simmons and Todd Snyder. After proving himself in an extremely competitive field of drivers this season, Bell feels he is ready for the next step: "I'm hoping to run Indy Lights or Toyota Atlantics in 2000. If the proper program is in place, I'm ready to go." Last month Bell tested an Indy Lights car at Buttonwillow Raceway with encouraging results.
Americans placed 1-2-3 in the championship this year, the first time since 1986, giving open-wheel racing a much-needed supply of homegrown talent. Bell hopes to follow the likes of Bryan Herta, successful first in Barber Saab, or perhaps even Juan Montoya, who finished 3rd in the Barber Saab series before going on to racing greatness. During the winter months, Bell plans to continue working hard to expand his portfolio of supporters, and keep his driving skills sharp behind the wheel of his shifter-kart.