Townsend Bell, A Well-Traveled Racer And Personable TV Analyst

Lexus of Townsend Bell and company ascends Turn 7 at WGI. [Joe Jennings Photo]

Lexus of Townsend Bell and company ascends Turn 7 at WGI. [Joe Jennings Photo]

By Joe Jennings

WATKINS GLEN – Townsend Bell seems to be as well-known as a race driver as he is as a NBC Sports Network color analyst for the NTT IndyCar Series races. A week ago, he fulfilled his latter duties at Road America and he competed this weekend in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at the legendary Watkins Glen International.

In between his television assignment and forthcoming driving commitment, he found time to fly home to California and back to the east coast.

AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus crew services Townsend Bell's car. [Joe Jennings Photo]

AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus crew services Townsend Bell’s car. [Joe Jennings Photo]

For the Sahlen’s event, he co=-drove a very colorful Lexus RC F GT3 fielded by AIM Vasser Sullivan in the GT Daytona class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series.

Co-driving with Bell were Frank Montecalvo and Aaron Telitz.

The team is a new one this season and Bell is impressed with its performance. “An all-new organization and a lot of different personalities coming together, a big car manufacturer and I am proud of the progress we have made,” noted Bell. “It is so nice that things have come together the way we had envisioned.”

Bell started out with a handicap as it is the first front-engine car he had ever raced, but thanks to Jack Hawksworth, driver of a second Lexus, the transition has gone smoothly.

For Bell, his interest in cars started at an early age. “I grew up with a steady diet of ‘The Dukes of Hazzard,’ ‘The A Team,’ ‘Knight Rider,’ and ‘CHiP’s’ – good early 80s chase scenes in my formative years,” said Bell.

Racing has been his passion for years since witnessing his first Indianapolis 500 as an 11-year old fan. But television is a different story. He didn’t pursue it, it pursued him. Actually, he turned down numerous overtures to do TV work until reluctantly agreeing to give it a try. And as the saying goes, the rest is history.

Bell has raced in the Indianapolis 500 ten times, qualifying fourth once and finishing fourth another time. His most recent 500 came in 2017 and while he thoroughly enjoyed the race, he said, “It will be an eternal thorn that I didn’t get to win the race. I had some good runs but I never got it done. Until I die, that will bother me.”

Even though his Indy racing days are over, he got to actively participate this year with NBC television in its first year of broadcasting The Greatest Spectacle in Racing. “It is a tremendous honor to have the privilege of being part of the broadcast team, and I had a lot of fun doing it,” he stated. “The flip side of broadcasting the race instead of racing in it, I was enjoying it instead of the stress of trying to win it.”

NBC drew rave reviews for its coverage and plans to build on that success. “It is just not Leigh Diffey and Paul Tracy that I sit with, but we have a couple hundred people behind the scenes that work to make the broadcasts a success. They do it with a passion and a hunger to tell all the stories and cover all the action.”
To keep up with his various assignments, Bell is a frequent flyer and will cross the country some 35 times this season.

Racing and constant travel can take its toll on the body, and Bell adheres to a steady work-out routine. “Living in southern California near the ocean and the mountains allows me to mountain bike regularly and surf with my kids. I do some boxing classes and I run, plus I dearly love snow skiing. I am 44 years old now, so it is important to keep the old body sharp and healthy. And I focus more on health and wellness than strength these days because racing a GT car demands a different type of endurance.”

Bell comes off as a seasoned professional in his various modes of work and is a formidable credit to the world of racing.

Share Button