Geoff Bodine _ Age is just a number



Geoff can still be a factor whenever he takes to the track, he'll be driving Todd's car this weekend at Pocono. Todd was on the pole for last years event.

Geoffrey Bodine not short on ambition


At 53, Geoffrey Bodine isn't still racing just to be a part of the show. Rather, he wants to steal it.

"I know I'm reaching the end of my career so I want to go out with a big bang, and I don't mean a big wreck -- I mean success," he said. "So right up to the end I'm going to try as hard as I can to get a victory."

Such ambition is a reason why Bodine, unlike other former NASCAR stars who kept racing into their 50s, is still capable of getting a car to handle and of driving it to the front.

He finished third in this year's Daytona 500 driving a car prepared by a part-time team. He drove the same car to a 10th-place finish at Daytona's Pepsi 400 in July and a 12th at Talladega in April.

He qualified and set up the Ford that his brother Todd drove to a sixth-place finish in the New England 300 on Sunday. With Todd having a Busch series race commitment in Colorado, Geoffrey Bodine will drive the No. 26 car this weekend at Pocono. Then a week from now, he'll go to Indianapolis for the Brickyard 400, where he'll be back in the No. 09 he drove at Daytona and Talladega.

"I think my feel, my ability to think things out and to work with people is as good or better than it's ever been," he said. "As long as I can do that and go out there and drive my heart out, I'm going to keep racing.

"Age is a number. It's your attitude that determines how long you keep racing."

Bodine's attitude is what kept him behind the wheel after a horrific wreck at Daytona International Speedway in 2000.

"People thought I'd quit after that accident because I came pretty darn close to losing my life," he said. Those people simply don't know Bodine.

Bodine grew up in Chemung, N.Y., and became one of the greats on the New England-based Modified circuit. At the peak of his Modified career, he moved South to try his hand at stock-car racing's elite circuit, Winston Cup.

He's had great success, winning 18 races, including the 1986 Daytona 500. But when Bodine first joined the series full-time in 1982, he was a Yankee running against Southern good ol' boys.

"I knew it would be tough," he said. "All the fellows I was racing against were my heroes. At times a little intimidated by them --especially Richard Petty.

"But I've never been a guy that backed down."

Bodine had his share of run-ins, particularly with the late Dale Earnhardt.

"I respected everyone I raced against, but I didn't agree with the way [Earnhardt] drove or the way he treated us, his competition," he said. "There were times he looked like he didn't care whether we finished, got wrecked or got hurt. He'd just run into you and wreck you.

"I'd never driven that way, and I don't agree with that style of driving."

What Bodine did agree with was the way that generation of drivers, especially Petty, handled the media and the fans.

"I learned a lot by watching how they drove and how they treated the fans off the race track."

Bodine's success opened the Winston Cup door for other Modified drivers such as Jimmy Spencer, Steve Park and his younger brothers, Brett and Todd.

But Bodine has proven he's far more than just a driver. He's also an innovator:

-- He built his own Modified cars, which usually were technically superior to his competitors.

-- He was the first to use power steering on a Winston Cup car, and he's credited with introducing several safety features, including full-face helmets, to the circuit.

-- He helped design and finance a bobsled that earned a rare U.S. gold medal in that sport at the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Yet his mechanical prowess doesn't guarantee him a ride on weekends. And is often the case in his profession, as Bodine got in his late 40s, the opportunities to drive the best cars began to dry up. But he still wanted to race in the big leagues, and that's why he was driving a truck for Georgian Billy Ballew in the 2000 Craftsman Truck Series race at Daytona.

During that race, the truck circuit's first on the 2.5-mile oval, several drivers lost control on the frontstretch and Bodine ran into the melee. His truck flew into the catch fence and literally was ripped to shreds.

Most who saw the wreck in person figured his career -- and possibly his life -- was over. He suffered multiple injuries, including a concussion and fractures to his right wrist and a mid-back vertebra.

But Bodine did more than survive; in some ways, he grew mentally stronger.

"I'm thankful I'm having another chance at it after that accident to show everyone that I didn't lose anything, that I'm not afraid, that I still want to do it," Bodine said.

"A race driver has fear, but you have to control it. I think I can control it better now that I survived that accident, and I think I'm as good a driver as I've ever been -- the set-up, understanding a car and these tires and going out there and driving the car."

Bodine knows he can't drive forever, and he doesn't want to be a car owner -- unless it's for his son Barry. But he has yet to find anything he enjoys as much as racing.

"Here lately I've had some time off between races," he said. "I keep telling myself 'you're going to like it' and 'you're going to get used to it,' but I'm not.

"I don't like not racing, not being at a race track."

Even today Bodine doesn't refuse requests for interviews or autographs. While many of today's young stars try to limit their access, Bodine said being in the spotlight is one of the things he enjoys about the sport.

"I love it when you get introduced and people cheer for you," he said. "I love being on TV, the interviews, and all the stuff that goes with it.

"You know when you quit racing that's all going to go away."
The 26 car has been doing real good they were a good team last year but when no sponcer was out there the team lost its touch for a while now that Discover is on board for the rest of the year I think we will see the 26 of old and Geoff will do just fine in that car possibly another top 10 for Geoff this year.
It all depends on how good the car is underneath you, Dave Marcis could go out and win if the right stuff was under him.
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