Bat­tler’s dream on track

Auckland City Harbour News - - Front Page - By Janie Smith

A PAS­SION for mo­tor rac­ing and a lot of gen­eros­ity gave can­cer pa­tient Brian Bell the best day of his life.

As part of Auck­land Mercy Hospice’s Open­ing Doors pro­gramme Mr Bell and 15 other out­pa­tients spent last Thurs­day zoom­ing at high speed around Pukekohe race track.

“I had a day I’ll never for­get,” he says.

“I went to Pukekohe and they re­ally turned it on for me. They put me in the fastest car with the fastest driver.”

The Mt Al­bert res­i­dent came up with the idea for a mo­tor rac­ing day last year when Open­ing Doors was launched.

Hospice day unit co­or­di­na­tor Viv James asked her hus­band Tim, an avid rac­ing fan, about hold­ing the day and his com­pany de­cided to pro­vide spon­sor­ship.

They also con­tacted rac­ing fan Mark Cole, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Hick Bros Civil Con­struc­tion, who agreed to co-spon­sor the day.

“It’s a beau­ti­ful story of how peo­ple just ran with the idea and wanted to give,” Mrs James says.

They then got rac­ing per­son­al­ity Ray Wil­liams to take Mr Bell for a few laps.

A for­mer car and mo­tor­bike driver him­self, Mr Bell knew Mr Wil­liams from his time in the sport.

“I haven’t seen Ray in 20 years,” he says.

“It was a thrill to meet up with him.

“We talked about mates we used to kick around with.”

He says the two raced to­gether in a Porsche on the day and made a great team.

“We were al­ways three laps faster than any other cars,” he says. “We ran 10 races and won them all.”

Mr Bell used to do grass track rac­ing so the chance to have a go on Pukekohe’s tar­mac course was a thrill.

His re­stored 1956 Mor­ris Mi­nor con­vert­ible was trans­ported to the track for the day and Mr Wil­liams took it for a spin.

“It’s prob­a­bly the best car I’ve ever had,” Mr Bell says.

Un­for­tu­nately the 67- year-old wasn’t able to get be­hind the wheel him­self.

Be­cause of the type of bone can­cer he has, his legs gave out sud­denly three months ago, leav­ing him con­fined to a wheel­chair.

Not be­ing able to drive has been hard to get used to.

“My only hope is to be able to walk again.”

De­spite not be­ing able to push the ped­als him­self, he says his day at Pukekohe was per­fect.

“It went off so well,” he says.

“I can’t thank ev­ery­one enough.”

Race day: Driver Ray Wil­liams, left, and pas­sen­ger Brian Bell drove around the race track in a Porsche.

Photo: EVOTIA TAMUA THOMPSON

Wheel deal: Brian Bell lapped up the day’s rac­ing at Pukekohe.

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