Some “street smarts” and deep dedication from a Western Canadian racer involved with one of drag racing’s fringe genres….

Ryan Bell, who is from Edmonton, has become somewhat of a Canadian fixture within the world of “fast street car” drag racing. This independent racer, who is also an expert engine builder by profession, has been dabbling in the alternative from the main stream world of drag racing with a very tired and true 1976 model Corvette, with which he continues to both evolve and progress.

During the just past 2017 racing season, racing in the NMCA West’s NA (naturally aspirated) 10.5 Outlaw class, Ryan did earn some nice justice with a very rewarding season placing and finish. But, for sure the preceding journey within his racing career to that point, spans deeply back.

Flyin’ Ryan Bell’s 1976 Corvette is one of the most ferocious naturally aspirated cars within NMCA circuit racing.

“For the better part of 20 years — I did the street/strip pump gas thing in and around Edmonton,” Ryan recalled. “I had a lot of involvement with the fast (or the fastest) street cars in my area — I did engine’s for a lot of years. I would run the Alberta’s Fastest Street Car event’s in Calgary in the late 90’s and early 2000’s and won that a couple times. Then I became involved in the series based out of Edmonton that Neil Richards from Horsepower Solutions started up at Castrol Raceway. I was lucky enough to win that four times there — in and around 2009-2012, all the while being a Small Block on pump gas and naturally aspirated. During the 2000’s I took my car to Mission Raceway once a year in the Fall and before long a bunch of Alberta guys started bringing their cars too — mostly my engine customers. We got pretty well known too at Mission — the even started calling us the ‘Alberta Boys'”.

“As time went on however I wanting to challenge myself on a larger stage and against stiffer competition. I made my first BIG trek (for me) to Las Vegas for the annual PSCA SCSN race in November 2010. Since then I’ve raced at Mel’s Street Car Super Nationals five times. Between 2012 thru 2015 I tried to attend as many PSCA and NMCA West races possible — I been doing all the NMCA West races since 2013. Then in 2016 and 2017, I made my first ventures to the East and raced the NMCA races at in Joliet IL. and Norwalk Ohio – which were huge events. We had some good showings at those for myself and my program. And despite only running 2 out of 6 East coast NMCA races (last year) I just missed a top 10 points finish.”

Ryan Bell competes with his C3 Corvette in the NMCA’s NA 10.5 tire class category.

“But in the West coast series I was runner up at the season opening race and won the season ending race to finish 2nd in final points,” Ryan added. “That was very satisfying because I’d been runner up 4X before. It felt like my time because I paid my dues, did it my way, never cheated anyone or myself, respected the class and my fellow racers in the class. I just followed along with my process and eventually climbed the ladder. I also had low ET in my class NA 10.5 for the entire year – and that’s something I’m pretty proud of too.”

Ryan’s Corvette is a pretty amazing evolutional story in itself. Meticulously prepped and maintained — his ongoing personal mission of “keeping his Corvette cool” remains on mark.

“I’ve actually owned the car since June of 1988 – bought from a dealership in Calgary,” he recalled. “Originally I wanted a Corvette because I figured it would at least come close to hanging onto it’s value. Over time my stock car morphed into a street/strip type car. I enjoyed cruising and going to the track on Friday nights and the car was actually still street legal up to about 4-5 years ago. I started building my own engine and one thing led to another and people started asking me to build theirs — so that’s how that all started. Right now my Corvette has a 417 CID SB Chevy – with one (1) carb I built myself. I run a 3-speed Pro-Flite transmission. My best time was 8.04 secs at 167 mph in NMCA NA 10.5 legal trim.”

Ryan has been keeping his race car based closer to the action in recent seasons – keeping it from Phoenix Arizona area for logistical and travel advantage reasons. His main crew guy is Al Alguire who lives there. Ryan also has very close ties with reputed race car builder Gary Hansen (Hansen Race Cars) who often attends events with him.

Ryan (centre) with Al Alguire and Gary Hansen following his first ever NMCA win – at Fontana CA last fall.

The 2018 racing season will see Ryan Bell continue to hone his racing craft and reputation. Regrettably it appears that the NMCA West series will cease to exist as an operation this coming year, so Ryan will have to increase the frequency of travel further east for the NMCA East coast series in 2018; and that is his plan.

In addition to his engine building and assembly prowess (customers include NHRA Sportsman racers Eddy Plaizier and Ken Reich) – Ryan funds his racing ventures from his self owned beer and liquor company: Dispensing Systems Inc. (DSI), which he acquired from fellow former drag racer and long time friend Rick Paton – who passed away back in 2015. DSI annual sales are impressive and the company may well be best known for being the official dispenser at Alberta’s annual “Big Valley Jamboree” a huge country music festival held every summer.

Flyin’ Ryan in the cockpit!

And as a final side-note — for drag racing fans who wonder about the origin of Ryan’s racing moniker: “Flyin’ Ryan”. That is a label he first earned as a youth when he was a potential ridden professional MX/SX motorcycle racer (for Honda) during his mid to late teens — before drag racing involvement — which has stuck to this day.

Posted by Bruce Biegler