Connect with us


BELL: IMSA Racer, IndyCar Commentator & School Teacher?

AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Townsend Bell checks into Sportscar365 as coronavirus pandemic halts racing…

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

The last few weeks have been an adjustment like I’m sure it’s been for everybody. I know we’ll be racing again, we don’t know when, but we’ve got to be ready.

In terms of my daily routine at home, it doesn’t change a whole lot except for the fact that I’m running a school now out of my house, which is a pretty big adjustment! 

I’m trying to get my training in every day, and in some ways, potentially even training harder.

The bike rides are a little longer, the runs are a little longer.

I just got out on my kayak this morning in the beautiful Pacific Ocean. For me, that’s the best way to stay focused and relieve the inevitable stress that comes with the situation we all find ourselves in.

Photo: Townsend Bell

From a driving standpoint, I have to admit that I did sneak down to one of the beach parking lots along Pacific Coast Highway and did a little drifting in my Lexus RC F just to keep my skills sharp – despite the lifeguards looking from afar and wondering what in the world this guy was doing. Therapy comes in many different forms!

I’ve also ordered a home sim racing machine that’ll be here in the next few days because clearly, you know, there’s a lot going on there right now, which is fantastic.

I’ve used racing sims before, and they’re great, but have always thought best to separate that from home life. Times…they are a changin’.

I’ve never really done any formal competitions on sims, but I’m excited to start doing some of that.

I watched the NASCAR on FOX broadcast last weekend. That was really well done and provided a much needed dose of live racing competition with names we know and the voice of familiar commentators. There’s a subconscious comfort in that, especially as the world around us has changed so much.

Image: IndyCar

I’ll do my first IndyCar sim broadcast this weekend on iRacing. I’m excited for it. While virtual, it’s still a real race and the winner will be the most skilled driver on that day with the best car (engineers can contribute significantly here too).

I like that the racing industry is uniquely positioned, in the world of sports, to respond quickly with a solution like sim racing. It doesn’t seem as forced as, say for instance, a team of basketball players logged on to play 2K.

I think this is because sim racing has been an embedded tool for professional racing for over 10 years. It’s a valuable resource for learning tracks, refining skills, and refining setups with the engineers.

Some of the higher-end simulators I’ve driven, like CXC Simulations, can deliver force feedback through the steering wheel equal to (and even above if you want the workout) a current IndyCar. It can serve as a perfect fitness preparation for hand, forearm, and shoulder strength.

Another nuance (dramatic understatement here) that’s been keeping me busy is homeschooling with my two teenage boys.

It’s been a massive adjustment to be the NBC broadcaster, IMSA racer and school teacher all from home right now. I’ve been just trying to balance all those demands and make sure they get their work done too.

Photo: Townsend Bell

At the same time, they need exercise and peace of mind. They’re not able to hang out with their friends right now, no organized team sports.

It’s been a big adjustment for everyone in the family, but we’re starting to fall into a rhythm. Setting a schedule makes all the difference plus making sure we are outside every day. Hiking, Biking, Basketball, anything to keep active- in isolation of course.

Through this I’ve also been keeping in touch with the AIM VASSER SULLIVAN guys. I think everybody’s in a similar situation across the board. There’s not really much you can do as a team.

There’s obviously no testing, but that doesn’t mean we can be talking regularly about things that we need to do to improve where we can while we have the downtime.

We still have a full-blown two car team and all the personnel. There’s always a punch list of things that you want to get to and want to address.

The focus is taking advantage of the time right now to deal with any of those things where possible. And just as I type this, I found out the team has gone into 14-day lockdown in Toronto. Welcome to the party-eh! 

Photo: Lexus

Mostly for me it’s about staying in shape, making sure body and mind are sharp- tuned up and ready to go- because when we do get back to racing it’s going to be full on.

I’m expecting a highly concentrated schedule. My hunch is that there’s not going to be a transition period. It’s going to be 0-100 instantly, cramming in as many races as possible and making up for lost time.

Since I’m competing in the full IMSA championship, I’ve got to be at those races, and I want to be at those races. I’ve also got a full schedule of IndyCar broadcasting, but we’ll address any potential clashes as they reveal themselves.

And I’m looking forward to having that problem!  (voice to self… “let’s bring it back, settle in, we’ve got a ways to go yet.”)

Townsend Bell (@TownsendBell) is a championship-winning open-wheel and sports car racing driver, competing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with the AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus team. Bell also serves as a commentator for NBC Sports' coverage of the NTT IndyCar Series.

Click to comment

More in Commentary