Bell Racing USA makes two motorsports staff enhancements

Photo: Tony DiZinno
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One of the more interesting earlier stories this season in the Verizon IndyCar Series was that Juan Pablo Montoya switched helmets to Bell starting at Barber Motorsports Park.

The Bell company itself has a bit of news to share with Chris Wheeler and Jeff Troyer being named to new managerial roles.

Bell’s release is below:

Bell Racing USA has hired two highly experienced new employees to serve as the director of motorsports and custom service manager.

Chris Wheeler has been named the new director of motorsports for Bell Racing USA. In his new role, Wheeler will work closely with Bell’s trackside support programs, manage sponsorship and contingency programs for both professional and amateur series, assist with research and development and oversee Bell’s social media programs. Wheeler will be joining the trackside support team and traveling across the country to provide onsite service to Bell athletes.

Wheeler, who will be based in Indianapolis, Ind., has over a decade of motorsports experience. He has worked as a spotter and driver coach in the Verizon Indycar Series and Global Rallycross. Wheeler has also worked as a team manager, a brand manager and a mechanic in the world of national-level karting.

“I’m excited to join the Bell Racing USA team,” Wheeler said. “I am really looking forward to working with our athletes in all forms of North American motorsports. We have some big projects in the works, and I’m confident that we will continue to be leaders in safety and customer service.”

Joining Wheeler at Bell Racing USA is the company’s new custom service manager, Jeff Troyer. Troyer brings almost two decades of racing experience to Bell Racing USA’s headquarters in Champaign, Ill. Troyer has vast experience in the motorsports safety industry, and a key part of his new position will be oversight of the custom building of helmets for many of the top professional drivers in the world.

“We’re very excited to have Chris and Jeff join the Bell family,” said Bell Helmets CEO Kyle Kietzmann. “They bring with them a wealth of experience and many connections in professional and amateur motorsports, and I’m confident that they will help keep Bell Helmets the leader in motorsports safety.”

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E

Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.