Driver Spotlight: Townsend Bell
Driver, No. 555 AIM Autosport Ferrari 458 GT3 (GTD)
How easy/hard is it to go between two different types of cars (Indy Car and GTD)?
“Not very hard because they’re so different. I found it more difficult going between F3000 and F1 back in the day or Indy Lights and CART. The biggest thing is re-adjusting to the cockpit controls. The Ferrari has a lot more switches and the steering wheel controls are much different. The biggest mistake I make is reaching for a hand clutch in the Ferrari or trying to use a foot clutch in the Indycar because neither exists!”
It’s often said drivers aren’t athletes. Talk about what you go through as a driver physically, and mentally, during a race.
“In closed cockpit GT cars, like the Ferrari, the biggest adjustment physically is getting used to the cockpit temperature and lack of ventilation. Luckily that’s offset by power steering and a very compliant chassis with the 458. Mentally, it’s just a lot of rhythm, repetition and precision.”
What are some of the challenges that Watkins Glen presents to a driver?
“I hadn’t been to Watkins in 15 years until we tested there last month. What an amazing track. Absolutely love it. Fast flowing corners that connect together so perfectly. There is something about natural terrain road courses that simply can’t be replicated with blank canvas circuits like Miller or Austin (even though they have some nice safety benefits!) The challenges come in the big commitment corners at Watkins like the bus stop, or final corner, where you have to take a big bite to be quick but too big and it will bite you back.”
In your opinion, where are the best places to watch the 6 Hour race at Watkins Glen?
“I’ve never watched so have no clue… I think you can sit on a hillside though in the boot for a good view?”
What are some of your hobbies outside of racing?
“I’ve really taken to boating in the last year and have a great relationship with my sponsor Beneteau- a French built power and sailboat manufacturer. They have a brilliant hull technology called, ‘AirStep’, which works much like the F-duct system that surfaced in F1 a few years back. I’ve traveled much of the U.S. and some of the world by land, via racing, but the ocean offers a new discovery every time- both above and below the water. Just discovering all of the sea life and raw terrain on the islands off of Southern California has kept me pretty busy over the past year. I’m planning a trip to Mexico for this fall and hope to explore the Carribean with my family over Christmas.”