She’s waiting for NASCAR to ring her Bell
Angelique Bell would like to attend UC Davis or University of the Pacific. She might study psychology or child development. She certainly has the grades: a 4.5 grade-point average.
Then again, Bell might want to drive race cars. That’s what she does when she isn’t playing varsity basketball at Woodcreek High School or hanging with the Timberwolves’ well-known — and loud — Black Mob cheering section.
Bell, 17, has been racing since she was 12, starting in quarter midgets, moving to outlaw karts and, this season, driving wingless sprint cars at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico.
“I had so much fun, sitting in the car, getting really sideways,” Bell said.
For her next level of fun, Bell has applied for NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program. The D4D is no stranger to All American Speedway in Roseville. The driver entries for the K&N Pro Series West race two weeks ago included current Drive for Diversity student Jessica Brunelli, 18, a former Modified driver at the local track. D4D member Paulie Harraka shoed a Bill McAnally Racing machine to checkered flags in Roseville.
Now, Bell hopes it’s her turn. After hearing about D4D from a friend, she submitted an application and a video and was accepted to participate in the combine.
Bell was one of 25 drivers to take part in the three-day combine last week at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va. They ranged in age from 16-23. The list included eight females, four drivers from Mexico and one from Puerto Rico.
Her parents, Regina and Bengie, traveled with her to Virginia.
“They’re really supportive,” Angelique said. “They were really excited when they found out I was coming back here.”
The combine started with physical training that included weightlifting, running, biceps curls, back-and-forth sprints on half a basketball court and more, Bell said. The second part was media training, including interviews with mock reporters. Bell enjoyed that.
“It’s fun; pretend like you’re famous,” she said.
The first day on the track — the Langley track is four-tenths of a mile, not much bigger than All American Speedway’s one-third-mile track — was rained out. It was to be Bell’s first time driving a Late Model car.
“I haven’t driven anything this heavy, but the power I have in my other cars is similar,” she said. “I hope I’m prepared enough in that aspect.”
To finish, the racers were to drive individually on the track with five warm-up laps to scuff the tires and 15 timed laps.
There are eight spots available in the 2012 Drive for Diversity class. Bell said she’ll learn by the middle of January whether she’s selected.
“It’s basically an opportunity we might not have gotten otherwise, opening up opportunities for us,” Bell said, adding that in 10 years, she envisions “driving on the Cup series in NASCAR.”
Drivers who are selected for D4D are placed with the Revolution Racing team and will be split among the K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. They’ll be asked to move to North Carolina, where Revolution Racing is based.
Regarding those college aspirations of UC Davis and UOP, would Bell be willing to move instead to the hub of NASCAR, 3,000 miles away?
Said Bell, “Yeah.”
Bill Poindexter can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @BillP_RsvPT.