Greater Victoria driver Bill Okell (12) leads a pair of cars around a turn at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course during the Sports Car Club of America national run-offs. Okell finished 12th in the GT-Lite class race on Sunday and wound up 22nd in a 40-car field in the F Production class race on Friday. Photo contributed

Victoria-area driver posts second-best sports car nationals finish

Bill Okell races at Indianopolis for the first time, pilots Austin Healey for Huffaker Racing

Bill Okell of Saanich wound up his first sojourn into the storied world of auto racing at Indianapolis with a solid finish on Sunday at the Sports Car Club of America national championships.

Starting 17th on the grid among 26 starters in the 19-lap GT-Lite class race, Okell moved up five spots to finish 12th overall driving the Huffaker Engineering Austin Healey Sprite. It was his second-best finish at the “run-offs,” following a 10th-place effort in 2014 at Laguna Seca, Calif., which hosts the championships in 2018.

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Okell drove in qualifying runs last week leading up to the first of his two races, the F Production class, which saw 40 drivers start Friday’s 40-minute race. Okell advanced five spots to wind up 22nd overall.

For the most part cars entered in the four GT classes are purpose-built, highly modified replicas of production sports cars. The GT Lites class includes such models as Toyota Celicas, Mazda RX-7s, Nissan 200SXs, Honda CRXs and Austin Mini Coopers, among others.

The three Production classes tend to retain their original design, structure and drive layout but are allowed certain performance modifications. There is no age limit on the cars, so these classes also attract a wide range of models.

Okell will wind up his season with the Pacific Coast Road Racing Championships being held Oct. 28 and 29 at the United States Auto Club track in east Los Angeles.

editor@vicnews.com