Broken Leg Gave Bill Okell A Break To Access His Options

by Lois Pollard-Grant

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Bill Okell, who many remember racing sports cars at Western Speedway during the 1970's. Bill's story could fill a book, but here is a condensed version of his past 24 years. Bill has covered a lot of ground since he made his racing debut behind the wheel of his MGB in June 1974, at age 19. He has driven in more than 100 races from the Pacific Northwest to California, winning two Sports Car Club of America championships along the way. One of the highlights of his career, even though he didn't win, was being nominated on the first ballot for Victoria's Male Athlete of the Year in 1985.

When Okell broke his leg playing softball in the late 1980's, he took a break from auto racing and began doing more race related broadcasting work with C-FAX radio in Victoria. "The break," Bill said, "provided some time to assess my life, becoming a Christian and committing my future to God."

When he later returned to active competition, he placed high in such races at the Pro-Formance Racing Series at Mission Raceway's one-mile road course and in the Invitational Sports Car events at Molson Indy in Vancouver. Now 43, Bill shows no signs of slowing down as he continues his broadcast work in support of local racers who have gone on to NASCAR as well as supporting CART PPG Indy car racing in Vancouver and Portland, Oregon.

His current life, besides holding public speaking engagements with youth groups, includes counseling, leading seminars and lecturing. He gives ICBC safe driving demonstrations at Western Communities and Victoria high schools. Okell also owns a successful contract waterproofing business. Bill's ultimate goal is to compete in the SCCA Trans Am Series. "Heck, it's one of the few remaining series around that is not age pre-requisite. Paul Newman started his Trans Am career at the age of 57 and he is still winning races, " Bill said. "I've got a lot of years of competitive racing in me, my biggest choice is to use these years wisely and at the same time, become a good solid role model for young people.

-as printed in the April 29, 1998 edition of the Goldstream News Gazette