Battler’s dream on track
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.
Wheel deal: Brian Bell lapped up the day’s racing at Pukekohe.