What do you see yourself doing when you’re 64? Saanich race car driver Bill Okell has been racing since the mid ’70s. His 64th birthday has come and gone and he has no plans to quit racing anytime soon.
Okell is no stranger to trophies and he spent the summer racing all over the west coast of North America, however, his most recent race and subsequent award were extra special because they were close to home. He was invited to race in the annual three-day British Columbia Historic Motor Races (BCHMR) at River’s Edge Raceway Park in Mission. After placing third overall, he was awarded the Chairman’s Trophy.
The award is given the the driver with the nicest car and the most spirited performance, explained Ian Wood, the BCHMR chairman. The winner’s Canadian racing history is also taken into consideration.
Okell drove his 1964 MGB — the same one he’s raced in for 44 years — in several races at the event between Aug. 9 and 11. All the cars entered in the race must be at least 25 years old and the races are accompanied by banquets and community building events.
The event drew 47 drivers from all over the west coast of North America and, despite the unpredictable weather, Okell was the top finisher from Victoria. He was also one of the 17 drivers who qualified for the final 25-mile Jim Latham Memorial Classic Race on Aug. 9. Okell finished third in a close race.
Wood said that the criteria for the Chairman Trophy award is purposely vague. Okell was selected for the award not only for his skill and enthusiasm, but because his car is “a work of art,” Wood explained.
In April of this year, Okell was also inducted into the Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame alongside five other members of the local racing community. Recognition like the Hall of Fame induction and the Chairman Trophy mean a lot to Okell because they come from his peers. He’s humbled by the acknowledgements.
After celebrating the award and his success at the BCHMR, the 64-year-old has now turned his sights to the NASPORT Championships which will take place in California in October. He pointed out that he is the defending champion having won the race twice in the past.
He meets with his doctor for two physicals each year and has been given the green light each time. He feels that doing what he loves and staying motivated “keeps the old age away.” Okell plans on at least 10 more years of racing because it makes him feel young.
“I haven’t peaked yet,” he said. “I’m still getting better.”