Saanich driver looks ahead to 2017 race season

Bill Okell will be back behind the wheel in early January at Auto Club Speedway

Saanich’s Bill Okell, left, talks to the press after winning the 2015 US Majors Tour in a Sports Club Cars of America race at Buttonwillow Raceway Park, Bakersfield, Calif.

Saanich’s Bill Okell, left, talks to the press after winning the 2015 US Majors Tour in a Sports Club Cars of America race at Buttonwillow Raceway Park, Bakersfield, Calif.

Prospect Lake resident Bill Okell has set his auto racing goal for 2017, to qualify for and race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in late September for the Sports Car Club of America’s National Championship.

The 28-year wait was worth it for Saanich’s Okell, now 62, who raced to a win at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., in late October.

Back in the 1980s, Okell made four attempts at the SCCA’s  Pacific Coast Road Racing Championships, but never placed better than fourth. This year was different, as he took his 1964 MGB to a NASPORT Lite class win at the Nascar-owned facility outside of Los Angeles.

In doing so, he set a new track record for the NASPORT Lite class at the combined high-banked oval and road course.

Okell will be back on the race track at the Auto Club Speedway in early January for the first round of the SCCA’s U.S. Majors Tour for the Western States Championship. It’s also a qualifying race for the national championship. Okell will be behind the wheel of one of San Francisco-based  Huffaker Engineering’s cars, either an MG or Austin Healey. Huffaker Engineering provided Okell with an Austin Healey in 2016, and of the six U.S. Majors Tour races, he logged three second-place finishes, two third-place finishes and a DNF.

 

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