Age does nothing to slow down Victoria race car driver Bill Okell

Bill Okell continues looking for more speed at an age when most people are slowing down.

“I’m still driven to improve and get faster,” said the 66-year-old auto racer.

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Victoria has had a notable history in the sport, ­including producing Billy Foster, the first Canadian to race the ­Indianapolis 500, and three-time Daytona 500 racer Roy Smith. Western Speedway (now known as ­Westshore Motorsports Park) was founded in 1954 and is the oldest racetrack in Western ­Canada with numerous veteran drivers still plying their trade there. But only a few Island drivers have had the staying power of Okell.

His quest continues ­Saturday and Sunday at the High Plains Raceway in Denver in an attempt to qualify for the Sports Car Club of America’s national championship ­runoffs, which will take place in late ­September at the fabled ­Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Okell will drive a San ­Francisco-based Huffaker ­Engineering MG Midget in his Denver qualifying attempt.

Okell’s best finish in the SCCA national championships was his fifth place in 2018 at Sonoma Raceway in California. He was 15th in 2017 when he ­realized a lifelong dream by ­racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“I’ve always had a desire to race sports cars and that has never waned over the years,” said the veteran driver.

SCCA drivers have to race six events in order to qualify for its national championship. Because he is Canadian and it was ­difficult for Okell to get into the U.S. during the heart of the pandemic, he has been “gifted” the points for four other events by the SCCA, but is required to finish the final two races in ­Denver and post good times in order to reach the six required races to advance to the national final on Indy’s road course.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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