Following the theft that took place at his house last Friday, racer and commentator Townsend Bell is resigned to the fact that his prized Indy 500 rings and other valuable items earned during two decades in the sport will not be recovered.
According to Bell, processing the burglary at his Southern California home is almost finished, but no progress has been made. Handling the aftermath has dominated his life since returning from the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
“We’ve done as much as we can. We have video of the guy, hat and hoodie on, spotlight strapped to his head so if he looks in the camera he blinds the camera, gloves on so there’s no fingerprints,” he told RACER.
“They took all my wife’s jewelry, cash, firearms. It was like a move scene. Ransacked the place, took everything, and were in and out in five minutes.
“We’re finalizing the police report, which registers the items in the pawn shop data base. I’m not sure the items have a lot of value, except for the watches. I’m bummed, man. Those are things you want to give to the grandkids one day.”
The scenario of a break-in while being away from his family is something Bell and most racers fear on a regular basis.
“I feel really bad for my wife,” he said. “You’re always on the road, and spouses are more on edge when we’re gone than when we’re home. For her to come home on a Friday night with my son to a ransacked house is terrifying. After all the years of saying there’s nothing to worry about…come on. She’s a trooper, but she didn’t sleep for two nights. She did her own 48 Hours of Daytona.”
Help from Indianapolis Motor Speedway to have Bell’s Indy 500 rings recommissioned and support from Rolex to replace the watch he earned for winning the GT Daytona class at the 2014 edition of the Rolex 24 would be welcome.
“More important for me, if there’s any way to find the original stuff, there’s something lost in translation in having replacements, but it would be better than nothing,” he said. “And that watch has now been stolen twice.”
A glaring officiating error at the 2014 Rolex 24 disqualified Bell’s entry after a rival car from the Flying Lizard Motorsports team tried to pass for the lead in the final minutes of the race and flew off the circuit. Penalized for the exchange, the Flying Lizard drivers were initially given the win – and the Rolex Daytonas that accompany the victory – until IMSA overturned its decision and rightfully awarded the win to Bell and his Level 5 Motorsports teammates.
“It was stolen once in the immediate aftermath, and once in an actual burglary,” he said with a laugh. “But everyone’s been terrific in trying to help, and we’ve done our collective best to try and get everything back. But it is just stuff. The real reason we do this is for the chance to compete, and that can never be taken from you. Life goes on and on we go.”