Tim Bell took the step from driver to team owner in 2014, forming Tim Bell Racing while becoming the youngest owner in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.
For 2015, he’s looking to step up to a two-car team for all 10 Grand Sport (GS) races.
The new team finished 15th in the GS team standings, with the best finish for Bell and usual co-driver Dane Cameron in the No. 28 Nissan 370Z fourth at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Bell gave Cameron the weekend off for the season finale at Road Atlanta, so his teammate could concentrate on his successful quest for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GT Daytona title. Bryan Ortiz – Bell’s roommate – filled in and finished fifth.
The low point of the season was a spectacular first-lap incident at Austin’s Circuit of The Americas, although Bell walked away unscathed.
The younger brother of Stevenson Motorsports driver Matt Bell, Tim began his Continental Tire Championship career at Daytona in 2011, and has 37 races in the series. His best finish is a pair of second-place ST finishes, both with Doran Racing in 2011, while the fourth at Mazda Raceway matched his best GS finish at Indianapolis with Mitchum Motorsports in 2012.
Bell, 25, is a native of Mountain View, Calif., and now resides near his team headquarters in Mooresville, N.C.
Any big surprises orunexpected happenings during your first season as a car owner?
“Obviously, number one was the big wreck at COTA. That definitely was the biggest hit I’ve taken in my racing career; the fastest crash I’ve ever had. Other than that, it was learning the way of the racing community and learning how to be an owner. I learned how to run a company from earning my degree in college, but this year was spent learning how personnel behave, how you need to work around employees in different situations, and try to make it all balance as a team – when you’re spending 60-hour weekends at the track.
“This year we focused on trying to find a platform with guys that meld well together. Now we’ve got guys working together as a band of brothers. I’ve seen many teams with top-notch guys, but there’s so much drama within the team that it really hindered their performance. We’re also learning where to cut costs – and where not to cut costs – along with the teething issues of the car. Everything was a giant learning experience, but we finished the year pretty strong and learned a lot.”
As a driver, you must have been pretty happy that your owner placed a priority on the safety features of your car.
“We were pretty lucky that the car was sound from a structural standpoint. I’m a true believer in that there is no expense for safety. I’m real fortunate that we took the time to make it safe (he credited moving the seat sliders and installing a HANS-compatible seat with helping him escape without injuries). The first thing we did after the season was to cut off a bunch of bars. We’re re-welding them and re-mounting them, adding extra bracing to the cages. We’re learning our faults and trying to improve them as much as possible during the off season.”
Do you have drivers set for next year?
“I don’t have anyone signed up yet. We’re talking to Bryan Ortiz, and hopefully something positive will come from that. It’s definitely going to be a two-car team, although nothing is set yet – not even the car number, although I’m hoping for 29 or 21. I’m still looking to work out the details. That’s why I went to SEMA (last week’s Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas), to have a bunch of meetings and discuss future options.”
Are you going to continue racing Nissans, and do you share ideas with fellow Nissan owner Kevin Doran?
“We looked at other options, but we feel with how far we’ve come in one year we’re going to continue our relationship with Nissan and try to make it the dominant platform for next year. Kevin and I don’t share data, but we sit down and brainstorm on different inherent issues that we’ve both had with the car. Next year we’re trying to get a single voice going among (Nissan 370) Z owners. Whoever runs a Z next year, we’d definitely like their input. Kevin and I both agree on the majority of the parts we need and how we can fix it, and he was a great help last year helping me figure out some issues we were having.”