What's Up With... Geoff Bodine?
PLEASE NOTE: ALL PICTURES USED WITH PERMISSION FROM GEOFFBODINEFANCLUB.COM AND WIKIPEDIA.ORG
By Dominic Aragon
TheRacingExperts.com Lead Reporter
For NASCAR driver Geoff Bodine, racing in his family runs thick through his blood. Growing up in New York , he and his two brothers have raced in all of NASCAR’s three premiere series. Along with those accomplishments, all three brothers, Todd, Geoff, and Brett, have won in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and both Geoff and Brett have won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
But as the oldest brother, born in 1949, Geoff has been racing for the longest time and started out at a very young age. “I grew up on a farm, and my dad built me a track and a racer,” says Bodine. “I’ve been racing since I was five. My uncle showed me how to drive.” Despite his successful NASCAR career, Bodine says that NASCAR wasn’t necessarily the original plan. “I tried to get into IndyCar, because IndyCar was big in the 1950s and 1960s. But, my parents didn’t let me race big cars until I was 18, so I went to college. I studied mechanical engineering, and it helped me build things better.” Bodine also has a lot of pride in his country, as he served six years in the National Guard.
Going to a lot of Daytona 500 races as a kid also fueled the dream to one day race in the 500 for Bodine. In 1979, at 30 years old, Geoff Bodine made his NASCAR debut at the Daytona 500 for owner Jack Beebe. How about that for a first start!? “It was amazing,” says Bodine. “It was intimidating racing against my hero Richard Petty, and I was really happy to be able to drive the car. We didn’t have a car that could win, but we could race [competitively]. I wrecked in turn four, and almost went into the tunnel. Thankfully I didn’t hit anyone, but we made the headlines of newspapers for the wreck.”
Seven years later, in 1986, the tables had turned. With four years of full time racing under his belt already, Bodine and team owner Rick Hendrick were ready to go to Daytona. “[Winning the Daytona 500] was a dream that I had as a kid.” That dream came true in 1986, as Bodine led 101 of the 200 laps. For car owner Rick Hendrick, it was his first of many Daytona 500 victories. “Winning that race was the biggest of my career.”
In 1990, Bodine had the best season of his career, taking home three 1st place trophies, and finishing 3rd in the points. For Bodine, it was a great season, with Junior Johnson, but it was also a disappointing one. “We broke a camshaft in the Dover race. If that didn’t happen, we would have won the championship. That DNF cost us a lot of points.”
1990 was the last season Bodine would finish in the top-10 in points. Despite not cracking the top-10 after that, Bodine would win eight more times through 1996. That win is his last to date. In 1996, Bodine was going through a tough time in his life, as he was going through a divorce. His win came at the Watkins Glen Road Course, just 30 minutes from home. “That was a very very special win for me. That day, we outsmarted a lot of people by setting up a pit strategy. You never know when your last win will be so you have to really appreciate every one of them.”
In 2000, Bodine was going into what was supposed to be his 19th full time season. However, the Daytona NASCAR Truck Series race was a few days before the season opening Daytona 500. Bodine, who has had some reasonable success in the Truck Series, started in 19th for the race. On lap 56 of 100, Bodine was part of a horrific wreck, in which his truck ended up catching some of the catch fence, and destroying the truck. Many drivers were involved in the wreck, including B.A. Wilson. That wreck was severe, and landed Bodine in the hospital for an extensive amount of time. Bodine would eventually return to the Winston Cup Series later in the year to compete in 14 of the 34 races.
After a quiet 2001 season, Bodine returned to the Daytona 500 with James Finch’s Phoenix Racing, for a limited 2002 campaign. At the Daytona 500, Bodine finished an impressive 3rd, especially since this was his first race since his wreck in Daytona. “That was a great opportunity. I know I would have won if we didn’t have a late race caution. It was amazing. What a story it would have been to win [The 500].”
For 2003-2004, Bodine raced in six races, with a best finish of 28th in 2004. (Until 2010, that last few years had been relatively quiet for Bodine.) In 2009, Bodine attempted two races with upstart team Gunselman Motorsports. “In Daytona, we knew we weren’t going to make it. We just went to get an attempt in the books. For Atlanta , we were hoping to do better.” But with NASCAR saying there could be no off-season testing, things weren’t working right for Gunselman Motorsports.
In 2010, Bodine raced the Atlanta Truck race, where he qualified 8th in an unsponsored truck. “We were faster then [my brother] Todd.” However, Bodine’s rear gear gave out, and he finished 26th. In June at Pocono Raceway, Bodine made his return to the Sprint Cup Series at Pocono Raceway, at track where three of his 18 career wins came. The team that he made the race with, Tommy Baldwin Racing, was going through driver changes at the time, and Baldwin selected Bodine to race for him at the track. “I raced against his father through [Wheelen] Modifies. When Tommy formed his team, I asked him if I could possibly try for a race for him. He gave me the chance at Pocono.” That day, Bodine qualified 41st, which was enough to make the field. “I hadn’t really driven a CoT and Pocono is one of the hardest tracks in NASCAR.” Despite a good enough run to make it in the show, Bodine knew going into the race that it would be a start and park effort. “I knew it would be a start and park race because Tommy doesn’t have proper funding. I was just hoping it would lead to more races.”
As for now, Bodine is hoping something can come together. But even though he isn’t at the track racing, Bodine has a very busy schedule. “I do a lot of charity events, and try to help raise awareness and money for charities.” On top of his charitable work, Bodine’s involvement in bobsledding has proved to be successful, too. His bobsleds won the gold medal this year in the Winter Olympics held in Vancouver for team U.S.A. Bodine is also involved in a fairly new program called Protandim. “[Protandim] changes the way people approach health and nutrition. I like to educate people about it.” Bodine credits racing for the things he has been able to do.
As for 2011 and beyond, Bodine still wants to race. He says the problem is that teams are now going with younger drivers. “Hopefully something will come up. I’m trying to get back on the track next year as soon as possible if it will happen.”
Car: Chevrolet Corvettes
Vacation Spot: Warm weather. Bahamas/Jamaica.
Junk Food: Don’t eat it. I try to eat organic.
NFL Team: Denver Broncos
MLB: New York Yankees
NBA: Not a big fan of the NBA. Hornets when they were in Charlotte . Right now I don’t have one.
Terms for Reference:
DNF – Acronym for did not finish
Daytona 500 – The Daytona 500 is NASCAR’s biggest race, which is held in February. This is considered “NASCAR’s Superbowl.”
Start and Park or SnP – Starting and parking is when a NASCAR team will go to the race, qualify the car into the show, and will park their car usually before the first round of pit stops. They do this for they can minimize the wear and tear of the engine and car. Since this requires no pit crew, or to change tires, or fuel the car with gas, the teams can profit from this, as a result of the winnings. Unsponsored teams usually do this until they can find funding, or save enough money to race another race
Bodine's wedding in 2009
Stock Car Assoc. Banquet; 2004
Bodine in 2007
Bodine's 1985 car