The Indy 500 will be a reunion for Bell, Herbalife and team owner Sam Schmidt as they created a competitive partnership in the 2010 race. Bell qualified the eye-catching white and green No. 99 Herbalife car in the top-10 and was as high as fifth place late in the race before a penalty pushed the team back to a 16th-place finishing position.
Herbalife is a global nutrition and direct-selling company headquartered in Los Angeles. The company is heavily involved in sports marketing, sponsoring both world-class events and athletes.
“Townsend has relied on our nutrition products for several years to perform at his best and we’re excited that, this spring, we’re introducing a new, scientifically formulated product line specifically designed for athletes like him, who require healthy nutrition around the clock," said Michael O. Johnson, Herbalife chairman and CEO.
In Bell, Herbalife has found a driver who trains rigorously and focuses his energy and skills on winning the Indianapolis 500. With limited racing in the past few years, Bell’s performance in the 2009 Indy 500 is proof he comes to Indianapolis each May incredibly fit and ready to race. Starting 24th, the driver from San Luis Obispo, Calif., methodically drove his way through the 33-car field to a fourth-place finish that year, his best in the May classic. The 2011 Indy 500 will be his fifth.
“Being in competitive equipment has always been important to me in my career," said Bell, the 2001 Firestone Indy Lights champion. “With this being the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, I am excited that I’ll be returning to the Speedway with a team and sponsor that will allow me to run up front. Partnering with Herbalife allows Sam’s team to prepare a great racecar, and I can’t wait to climb back in it."
This year is Sam Schmidt Motorsports’ 10th anniversary of fielding cars in the Indianapolis 500. SSM was formed in 2001 after Schmidt’s own driving career ended in a 2000 testing accident in Orlando, Fla. Driver Davey Hamilton started 26th in the 2001 Indy 500 in a Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara and finished 23rd.
“It’s a thrill to be partnered again with Herbalife and Townsend Bell for the Indianapolis 500," Schmidt said. “This will be the first time competing in the Indy 500 that our team will be returning with the same driver, sponsor and engineering combination. The continuity will be fantastic and, hopefully, we can improve on our great performance last year."
In addition to entering cars in the Indianapolis 500, Sam Schmidt Racing is the most successful team in the Firestone Indy Lights series, which is the leading support series to the IZOD IndyCar Series. Driver J.K. Vernay’s championship in 2010 was the team’s fourth Indy Lights championship. Schmidt has visited victory lane 37 times as a car owner in the series.
Practice for the 2011 Indianapolis 500 begins on Saturday, May 14, and the 100th-anniversary race is on Sunday, May 29.