I’ve known for some time that Fred Bell races cars in Penticton. A few days ago I noticed a beat up vehicle on a trailer in front of his home. When I met him and Linda on the street yesterday I asked, “what are you going to do with that wreck on the trailer in front of your house?”
Almost in unison they replied, “that’s not a wreck. It’s a race car!”
I apologized for insulting what they obviously considered a very special car. “Come over and have a look,” Fred offered.
About 15 minutes later I showed up with my camera for a close up inspection of the car, which I learned is a 1972 Monte Carlo. I still thought it appeared extraordinarily trashed and wondered how it could possibly race.
“He won a trophy in Penticton with it last weekend,” Linda assured me. “He posted the fastest time in the Heat Race.”
Fred told me with understandable pride he broke a 14 year record in the quarter mile event. “My time was was 16.33,” (seconds) he said. “I’m in 5th place overall for the season.” It’s not surprising he wins. He started racing at age 15. At that time, his father owned the Big Horn Speedway in Keremeos.
I was amazed to learn the car has only 2 forward gears. “It’ll go 80 mph in first,” Fred said.
The car is so banged up because of the “hit to pass” rule. “I’ll have to do some repairs before I race this weekend,” Fred said. “It costs me $7,000 a season to run it. There is no prize money so I’m looking for sponsors to help with the cost.” To raise funds he offers rides at the raceway to all comers. Cost per ride is $20.00. Be sure to turn off your hearing aids though. The roar of that powerful motor will shatter your ear drums.
Fred told me he races because “it’s fun.” It’s definitely not the prettiest car in town but it may be the fastest.