JIM BELL RACING (JBR) driver Jim Bell made a good recovery after a pre-season test session brush with the wall and put on a strong show in the Pro Mod class at the 47th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway in Gainesville, Florida on March 18-20, 2016.
After a successful 2015 season, which included partnering with fellow Pro Mod racer Kevin Fiscus, Bell started off his 2016 year in late February with pre-season testing at Palm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, Florida. Bell fought some issues with his twin turbo ’13 Mustang, but the team eventually got the car to make a decent run. At the end of the quarter-mile stretch when it came time for Bell to stop, he hit the ‘chutes and they didn’t deploy properly. He went for the brakes, which were set up with more sensitivity than his Camaro’s, and the Mustang made a hard left into the wall at 228 MPH. While the car was damaged, Bell, fortunately, was not.
Both Bell’s Camaro and his damaged Mustang were taken to RK Racecraft in Cartersville, Georgia. There, Ryan Rakestraw and his team pulled the Pro Line Racing 481X motor out of the Camaro and replaced it with the more competitive and powerful PLR Hemi, which had previously been in Bell’s Mustang.
The repairs were finished in time for the first NHRA Pro Mod race in Florida, and Bell officially began his 2016 season. During the first round of qualifying on Friday, the team was busy working out the bugs in the Camaro’s new setup. Bell’s first hit resulted in a lot of tire shake, and he clicked it off to run a 7.043 at 147.23 MPH pass which ranked him seventeenth. In round two, Bell encountered even more tire shake and had to abort the run once again. This time, the scoreboards lit to show he had gone 8.002 at 124.96 MPH, and Bell slipped into twenty-fifth. Finally, for round three of qualifying on Saturday, Bell had a strong .99-second 60-foot time and the car was on a solid pass, but it again encountered more shake. Bell pedaled it, but the resulting 6.670 at 191.97 MPH run told crew chief and head tuner Brad Personett that the car was way down on power. Back in the pits, the team discovered a damaged bypass valve which resulted in low boost and the reduced horsepower. After it all, Bell remained twenty-fifth. The incredibly tough Pro Mod qualifying field had a bump spot of 5.982-seconds.
“I’m disappointed not to have qualified or made a decent run, but we’re still working on getting the Camaro back to where it should be with the new engine combination. I have confidence that we will get the JBR Camaro flying and competitive again in NHRA Pro Mod, especially with the help of a legendary Pro Mod racer, tuner, and crew chief like Brad Personett!” said Bell, with his trademark positivity and calm demeanor.
Bell will run at each of the ten NHRA Pro Mod races for 2016 and will continue his season at the 29th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals event in Baytown, Texas on April 29-May 1 at Royal Purple Raceway.