Townsend Bell returns to Panther Racing for 97th Indianapolis 500

Sunoco Chevy brings team from DreamWorks movie ‘Turbo’ to life in greatest spectacle in racing.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Two-time IndyCar Series champion Panther Racing announced today that former driver Townsend Bell will return to the team this May to drive the No. 60 Sunoco Turbo Chevrolet in the 97th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

Bell’s Sunoco Chevrolet will feature the same livery and crew uniforms as highlighted in the upcoming DreamWorks Animation production ‘Turbo’, which will be released in theaters on July 17th. Bell started a total of 11 races for Panther between 2004-2005 and is returning to the IndyCar cockpit for the first time since the Indianapolis 500 last year.

“We’re happy to have Townsend back,” Panther Racing CEO and Managing Partner John Barnes said. “We really want to thank Sunoco for giving us an opportunity to expand our program this May and bring a familiar face back to Panther.

We take a great deal of pride in being able to compete at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and we feel like this addition really strengthens our effort with JR Hildebrand and Oriol Servia as we prepare to make another run at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

Bell, who doubles as a broadcaster on NBC Sports Network’s IndyCar telecasts, will be looking to make his seventh career start in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. After making his Indianapolis Motor Speedway debut in 2006, Bell has made a total of six starts on the historic2.5-mile oval, capturing three Top Ten finishes and a best finish of fourthplace in 2011 while running for Schmidt Pelfrey Racing.

Townsend Bell in Ferrari F458 Italia at 2013 Long Beach race
Townsend Bell in Ferrari F458 Italia at 2013 Long Beach race

Photo by: Martin W. Spetz

He is also currently racing a Ferrari in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) with Alex Job Racing, and finished seventh in Long Beach two weeks ago. The San Luis Obispo, California native was the 2001 Indy Lights champion, and recorded a best finish of fifth at Nashville Superspeedway (2004) in his previous 11 starts with Panther Racing.

“I’m a lucky guy,” Bell said. “To be able to return to a top team like Panther and at the same time join up with Sunoco and DreamWorks is a special occasion. Despite the late start, we’re focused on making the most of the opportunity.

With Panther’s previous record at Indy I can’t wait to get on track. I also need to thank the collective group of brands that are supporting us which include EcoDrink, Heelys, TV Guide Magazine, Motegi Racing, Robert Graham, Chevy and Firestone. Everybody is pumped and we’re looking forward to a great race. There’s nothing like the Indy 500.”

Panther’s Sunoco-sponsored entry will closely mirror the Sunoco-sponsored race team represented in the DreamWorksAnimation animated comedy ‘Turbo’, about a snail who attains the power of super-speed and attempts to win the Indianapolis 500.

The movie, which features voice-overs from Samuel L. Jackson, Ryan Reynolds, Snoop Dogg, Paul Giamatti, Maya Rudolph and others, is set to hit theaters on July 17th.

“Sunoco is thrilled to have Townsend Bell behind the wheel of the No. 50 Sunoco Turbo Chevrolet for the Indianapolis 500,” said Drew Kabakoff, brand manager for Sunoco. “Being able to literally pull the car from the movie and have it on the track is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our brand and a great way to kick off our Free Fuel 5000 summer promotion.”

Panther currently runs 2011 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year JR Hildebrand full-time in its No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet, and also has a technical partnership with Panther Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and veteran driver Oriol Servia.

The team has finished second place in four of the last five Indianapolis 500s with three different drivers; Vitor Meira (2008), Dan Wheldon (2009-2010) and Hildebrand (2011). The team won back-to-back IndyCar Series championships in 2001 and 2002 with former driver Sam Hornish Jr.

Opening day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is Saturday, May 11th with Pole Day qualifications slated for May 18th and the 97th Running of the Indianapolis 500 will be held on Sunday, May 26th and broadcast live on ABC at 12:00 pm (ET), with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network, XM/Sirius Channel 211. Practice, qualifying and race coverage is also available on the IndyCar Mobile app from Verizon.

About ‘Turbo’: Turbo is a high-velocity 3D comedy about an ordinary snail who dares to dream big – and fast. After a freak accident miraculously gives him the power of super-speed, Turbo kicks his dreaming into overdrive and embarks on an extraordinary journey to achieve the seemingly impossible: competing in the Indianapolis 500.

But not everyone thinks this mollusk has the muscle to make it to the winner’s circle, and it’s only with the help of his tricked-out streetwise snail crew that this ultimate underdog proves that no dream is too big, and no dreamer is too small.

Panther Racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar , ALMS
Drivers Oriol Servia , Townsend Bell , Dan Wheldon , Alex Job , John Barnes , Sam Hornish Jr. , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Alex Job Racing
Article type Breaking news
Tags chevrolet, indianapolis 500, indycar, panther racing, townsend bell