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Saanich race car driver nabs GTU title, new hardware at Mission Raceway Park

‘Satisfying win’ on Canadian circuit after U.S. season cut short for Bill Okell
Saanich race car driver Bill Okell (left) and JK Skinner of R&P Motorsports, owner of the car Okell raced in, pose with a trophy after a weekend of racing in the Confederation of Autosport Car Clubs Championships. (Brent Martin/Martin’s Action Photography)

During what turned out to be a rain-filled racing weekend at the Mission Raceway Park in the Fraser Valley, Saanich-based driver Bill Okell, 65, took home the Grand Touring Under (GTU) points title at the Confederation of Autosport Car Clubs Championships.

Okell took part in two GTU races on Sept. 26 and one on Sept. 27 in Mission, and the rain didn’t slow him down – in fact, he said the conditions were “well suited” to the 1990 Mazda Miata he was driving. The car was on loan from R&P Motorsports, though Okell typically races in a 1964 MGB Roadster that he’s had for 45 years.

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In the first race, Okell placed second as former GTU champion Branko Turic sped into first place in his Volkswagen Rabbit which broke down shortly after, forcing him to drop out of the last two races. With the first-place car out of the running, Okell slid into the top spot in the final two races which gave him enough points overall to take home the GTU points championship. “This really was a satisfying win [in] a racing year, that really looked like it wasn’t ever going to happen,” he said.

Okell’s plan to make waves at the 2020 Sports Car Club of America U.S. Majors was dashed when the border between Canada and the U.S. closed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After the initial disappointment, he set his sights on the Canadian racing circuit – not only so he could keep doing what he loves, but also to keep his long-term sponsors engaged.

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“This late-season effort allowed our racing program to maintain momentum as we approach the next season which, I hope, will get underway in late January at U.S. Auto Club Speedway” in California, said Okell, who will be 66 in November.

He hopes to do well in the 2021 Western Conference tour as his sights are set on qualifying for the national championships set to take place in Indianapolis next September. In his 2017 appearance at the national championships, Okell took part in two races and placed 17th and 22nd.

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Saanich race car driver Bill Okell sped around the track at the Mission Raceway Park in a 1990 Mazda Miata on Sept. 26 and 27. (Brent Martin/Martin’s Action Photography)