Townsend Bell didn’t win the Rolex 24 at Daytona this past weekend, but the really bad news came when he got home.
The 42-year-old driver’s Los Angeles home was burglarized on Friday while he was away in Florida for the event, and nearly all of the awards he’s picked up over the years were taken, including 10 Indianapolis 500 participant rings and two Rolex watches, one he received for winning the 2014 race and another for becoming season champion the following year.
"In the end it's just stuff, but it's special to just me," Bell told the Associated Press on Monday. "All the work you put in to get all that stuff, and at least you have recognition of the achievement, and now it's gone."
Bell and the racing community are now looking for help finding the pilfered prizes, asking fans to keep a lookout on Ebay and other online marketplaces for the very conspicuous goods.
The jewelry was in a safe in a drawer, and Bell said the entire safe was ripped out and taken. A locked drawer in his closet was also removed, and most of the home was ransacked.
The burglary happened Friday night, but Bell was not made aware of it until he returned home because he'd left his cellphone in the Uber he took to the Los Angeles airport when he headed to Florida for the race. His only communication with his family was when he was able to check his email on his computer, and he said his wife didn't want to bother him during the Rolex.
"I told her 'It's just a car race!'" said Bell, who is also an IndyCar analyst for NBC Sports. "I don't really think I'd be focused on a stolen Rolex while I was racing. Well, actually, I'm back to zero now on Rolex watches, so maybe I would have been thinking during the race I had to win because I've got to start my whole collection over now."
Bell's team finished fifth in class in the twice-round-the-clock endurance race that ended Sunday.
All his items are engraved with his name, year and achievement. Bell is hoping that makes it easier for the items to be found.
The Associated Press contributed to this report