EDITOR’S NOTE: Ryan Bell, the crew chief for the No. 74 Mike Harmon Racing machine has allowed us to reprint his response to being hit with a $50,000 penalty by NASCAR for violating the rules on testing during a charity event. Below are his words in their entirety from a social media post provided to Kickin’ the Tires that have been edited for clarity.
*In Response to the almost 100 messages I’ve received responding to the Nascar fine.*
So we are a week away from my NASCAR appeals hearing. Sadly, unlike a lot of crew chiefs and teams at the top of our sport, Mike Harmon Racing and Ryan Bell cannot afford to pay a $50k fine. Although Mike has expressed to me that he would do everything in his power to make that happen, I cannot ask this team to pay that fine. It would destroy this team at this time. So with that being said, I leave you with these words…
I gave up my entire world to be a part of this sport, moved away from friends and family and left a good life behind. So many have made this sacrifice over the years. I felt like I represented another generation taking that step into the unknown. Over the years I’ve worked countless hours, drove across this great country and sacrificed not just my time but my health. I’ve met men and women who have inspired and taught me lessons that I will carry with me until I die. I’ve dined with celebrities, met political leaders and shook hands with so many inspiring people with disabilities or terminal illnesses. They just wanted to be at the racetrack and rub elbows with their heroes. Co-workers have become friends and friends have become family. People I’ve met in the garage became so much more than a fan interaction, they became key players in my life. The sport has given me so much heartbreak, but so many more amazing memories.
In 2017 my health got so bad I tried to take my own life. Yes, I stood on a baseball field that my son played on regularly and held a gun to my head. Luckily that night ended with me in medical care and lead to me meeting a man that saved my life. Along this journey, so many people inside this sport came to my side and are still there to check on me daily. My love for this business almost cost me my life cause I wouldn’t miss work to find out what was wrong with me. Come to find out years of head injuries, a lot sacrificing myself if the pits to get these race machines back out as quick as possible, had now led to permanent bruising to the frontal lobe of my brain. Against the wishes of families and doctors, I kept going.
I’ve missed birthdays, major family surgeries, I stood in the garage at Indy Motor Speedway as they did surgery to remove our dead child from my wife. It was an extremely hard day. I’ve missed family funerals, weddings and major events. I’ve done it all for my love of this sport and this community.
I’ve got to live my dream of becoming a crew chief at the sports highest level, my dad got to watch me live my dream and carry on his legacy. That’s what is important.
If Mike Harmon racing participating in a charity event is what ends my career then so be it. If they want me out of this sport so bad that trying to support Autism, a condition my 7-year-old son has, then I’ll walk away. If this is what our community has come to, that big teams literally try to do everything they can to cheat and get minimal repercussions and they want to destroy a small team because they are embarrassed by us then so be it!
Let’s be honest, the chance of them letting us win this appeal is slim and none. So this is probably it for me. I’ll move on and find another journey. Please know this, I appreciate every single one of you that have reached out. I appreciate all the people who have been a part of this ride. I could go work in another series, in the past when this penalty was handed out they never fined the crew chief directly, so apparently, this is personal, so if that’s what it’s about I’ll be done. That’s my comments. I hope I answered some of your questions.