Setback for Jim Bell

Canadian drag racing proponent and Edmonton resident Jim Bell endured a serious situation and setback while racing at the very recent season debut event for the PDRA held at Rockingham, North Carolina….

Driving his turbocharged 2013 Ford Mustang Pro Mod and while competing in the PDRA’s Pro Boost class category, Jim went for a very nasty high speed spill during the fourth round of qualifying for that race held April 5th.   Bell’s fast improving Ford Mustang, which he debuted last year, was effectively destroyed in the incident — but most importantly the car’s design and strict safety standards minimized personal injury.

The JB's Power Centre Pro Mod Mustang was severely damaged in an incident on April 5th.

The JB’s Power Centre Pro Mod Mustang was severely damaged in an incident on April 5th.

Just past the 1/8th mile mark and at a speed of approximately 190 mph — the car took a hard right from the left hand lane and made heavy impact with the right side guard wall.

Since the incident and while recovering back home in Edmonton – Jim has had some time to reflect on the cause.

“I believe it was a combination of driver error and some pollen that had fallen on the edges of the racing surface,” Jim surmised.  “Here is what I think happened.  Steve Petty had given me some additional power as the track was coming around.  The car left hard with a 1.0 sixty foot time and was past the 330 foot mark.  I was not focused enough on keeping the car running down the middle of my lane and I let the car run too close to the left hand side of the racing groove.  Then when I realized just how close I was to the wall I attempted to ease the car back and I was still on the throttle. The drivers side rear slick got into pollen (which has been historical at Rockingham Dragway – Editor) that was on the side of the track and broke traction while the passenger side slick still had traction.   Then in the blink of an eye the car made a violent right turn and got up on it’s right side. I immediately knew that I was in a lot of trouble and there was no saving it.”

“Interestingly enough while this was happening — I recall I had time to think : I am in a  lot of trouble and this is going to hurt!”

Despite a major setback Jim Bell's personal passion for Pro Mod racing will continue.

Despite a major setback Jim Bell’s personal passion for Pro Mod racing will continue.

After impact with the guard wall the car got airborne and then barrel rolled a number of times before grading to a halt on the race surface itself.  Jim was in some discomfort while being extracted from race car and was taken to hospital for overnight observation and treatment.  He had no broken bones but did have did have bruises and pain on his upper back and chest sternum from the R3 device which he admits did save him from whiplash or an even worse injury.

Jim was thankful to Rick Moore and the emergency response team at Rockingham Dragway who did a great job getting him out of the car as well as to fellow class racer Lemar Swindoll Jr., who was in the other lane and who did an outstanding job avoiding a collision. 

While an incident of this severity might have sidelined any other racer for a long period of time — Jim Bell is certainly an exception.

“When I was in the hospital laying on my back for about 8 hours strapped to a buck board — I was already thinking about a replacement car,” he amazingly admitted.  “I have given Eric Dillard the go ahead to co-ordinate the purchase of Khalid Al-Balooshi’s 69 Camaro Pro Mod that he had ordered from Jerry Bickel last year.  That is going to have a Proline build BAE Hemi to start out with but we want to continue on with the 481X AJE / Proline combination that we had lots of experience with.  My crew chief Rob Nascimento is working on the engine swap which will require a new turbo headers and cold side charge tubes.”

So if everything goes accordingly to plan Jim Bell and the JB’s Power Centre Racing team will return to action during NHRA’s next Pro Mod Drag Racing Series event which happens at Houston later this month.

Here is a YouTube video of Jim’s incident at Rockingham:   CLICK HERE

Posting and Photos by:  Bruce Biegler