Jason Bell became the GT America powered by AWS GT4 Class Champion at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He partook in one of a few championships with SRO Motorsports America that came down to the final race, but his final finish had fans on edge with drivers going bumper to bumper into the last laps the race.
Robb Holland took home the win in Race Two at IMS, Bell kept cool and kept Ross Chouest behind him on track to finish second in the race and three points ahead of Holland in the championship. An impressively successful run by Holland had Bell on the defense toward the end of the 2023 season. Bell began the year with a win in his hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida. Over the course of the season, Bell would accrue a pair of wins and 12 podium finishes. Eight of his accolades were collected in a string of strong performances in the latter half of the season.
As Bell reviews his accomplishment, he notes that things began shaping up well before the final moments on track for the race season.
“It started actually in Road America in Race Two, Round 14 on the next to last lap when Holland went off the track and the win was in my grasp,” Bell said. “I was hungry for a win after the day before because I was very close to the win as well. Due to the way he reentered the track I had to yield to Holland on his entry back on the track which cost me. That was huge in regard to points, and I knew it was going to come down to single digits moving forward.”
“During the Sebring weekend, I made the move on Lap 1 and ran a flawless race to take the win in Round 15 and at that point, with Rob on my tail, my nerves started to get very thin. In Round 16 I took off and was sure to have another win in my pocket which would have made the Indy weekend a lot less stressful. But it wasn’t meant to be that way and I lost the lead with two laps to go almost wiping the car out but finished second. I was on edge leaving Sebring even though I regained the points lead over Chouest as he had a rough weekend which did not help him on his bout to repeat. That weekend pretty much left it down to Rob and myself.”
The weight of the world was on Bell’s shoulders rolling into the Indianapolis 8-Hour presented by AWS weekend. He entered the weekend the points leader in name, but it would take a well-prepared No. 2 Flying Lizard Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 and a near-perfect run by Bell. Bell never once had to doubt his machinery leaving the need to run near-perfect races up to Bell entirely.
“The last lap was an intense, nerve-racking hand-shaking moment the whole race was for that matter,” Bell said. “I had to have the perfect drive as Ross (Chouest) was ready to make the move with any mistake I made. I was faster than Robb (Holland) in Race Two, but my plan all along was to ride behind Rob, not pass him. I had to deal with so much in that race it’s so hard to explain it was surreal the rush the feeling of uncertainty and the sheer will to win the championship was so deep. I had Owen (Hayes, Flying Lizard Motorsports) and Michael (Cooper, Driver Coach) talking to me and that really helped. I didn’t say a word the whole race. I didn’t even know what lap it was I was in a zone through the checkered flag.”
And the checkered flag did come. Bell kept competition behind him, though there were touch-and-go moments that appeared to show it may not be possible. He arose victorious. Now able to review his past season, Bell thinks back to a few choice highlights.
“I would say the first race weekend in St. Petersburg with my first race win Sunday was huge it set the season to come,” Bell said. “I came into the season ready to win a championship and showed that I could do it. I should have swept the opening weekend. In Race One I had a huge lead of 15 seconds, despite what some say, I ran over debris from an earlier crash and got a flat tire. I finished third on a rim bouncing off the wall with sparks flying it would go on to prove to be a huge finish and the next day I won Race Two. The Race One finish allowed me to win the championship. So many things go into the year, and I have so many moments of highs and several lows where I lost wins I should have had that made this a close championship. But St. Petersburg and the Sebring Lap 1 pass on Holland to take the lead and win the race I look at the two most important races in the season for me.”
With 2023 in the books, Bell now looks ahead to the potential the 2024 GT America powered by AWS season holds for him. While specifics have not been confirmed, Bell is positive he’s coming back for more.
“Well, I can promise you I have nothing against defending the title that is for sure but as you know a lot of silly things going on right now and some things, I’m not at liberty to say,” Bell said. “What I can tell you is I have had an opportunity come up recently that is very intriguing that would keep me in a GT4, and I can tell you I will be back in this GT America series in a GT4 or a GT3 with a No 2 on my door. A lot of good things going, and I hope can release that information soon.”