Brett Bodine (born January 11, 1959, in Chemung, New York), is a former NASCAR Winston Cup driver. He is the younger brother of 1986 Daytona 500 winner Geoff Bodine and the older brother of Craftsman Truck Series driver Todd Bodine.
Beginnings[edit | edit source]
Growing up watching his brother Geoff race in the modifieds, Brett decided to embark on a racing career on his own, beginning in hobby stock races and moving up to the modifieds. Brett is a modified legend in New England having won the Stafford Motor Speedway track championship and the prestigious Race of Champions. He has also been inducted into the Modified Hall of Fame. He also attended Alfred State College and received an associate's degree in mechanical engineering. In 1985, he made his Busch Series debut, running thirteen out of the 31 races that season, winning three times. He won two more times the next season running the full schedule and was named Most Popular Driver.
Moving up[edit | edit source]
Bodine made his NASCAR Winston Cup debut in 1986 at the World 600, finishing 17th in a Rick Hendrick owned Chevrolet as a teammate to his brother Geoff. He ran 14 out of the 29 races in 1987 with Bull's Eye sponsorship for Hoss Ellington. He ran the full schedule the following two years for Bud Moore Engineering, posting eleven top-10 finishes over this period of time. 1990 was his breakout season in Winston Cup. Driving for champion drag racer Kenny Bernstein, Bodine won his first race at North Wilkesboro Speedway, which came under some controversy. During a long 17-lap caution flag, scoring was mixed up, and some felt that Darrell Waltrip was robbed of the win because of the error. The win stood however, and before the season was over, Bodine had won his first pole position at the fall event at Charlotte Motor Speedway and was 12th in the championship standings. Bodine wasn't able to equal his 1990 effort, and parted ways with Bernstein after the 1994 season. For 1995, he signed with his brother Geoff's old boss Junior Johnson, piloting a car with sponsorship from Lowe's. He posted two top ten finishes and finished twentieth in points.
Owner/Driver and its subsequent struggles[edit | edit source]
After the season, Johnson sold the team to Bodine. Bodine also bought former boss Kenny Bernstein's old team and merged them together to form Brett Bodine Racing Bodine raced with Lowe's sponsorship for one more year, then signed Catalyst Communications for 1997, but troubles erupted when Catalyst did not pay its sponship fees, leading to a lawsuit. Bodine later blamed this for his struggles. In 1998, he qualified for every race for the first time since 1995, and signing sponsor Paychex. The eventual struggles of being an owner/driver slowly crept up on Bodine, and he soon found himself struggling with the responsibilities of fielding a competitive team. In 1999, he signed up Ralphs Supermarkets to sponsor his car for 2000, and sold the team to businessman Richard Hilton. The later deal fell through, but he was still able to keep Ralphs as a sponsor.
Bodine continued to struggle through 2000 though, as he failed to qualify five times that year, and wound up 35th in points. The car that had won six championships in the 1970s and 1980s was now having difficulties making the field on Sunday. He turned it around slightly in 2001, posting two top ten finishes (the first time he finished that high since 1997), and qualifying for all the races. Brett Bodine Racing also expanded to a two-car team for the first time in its history, fielding the #09 Ford for older brother Geoff, who himself was struggling to maintain his Winston Cup career, in two races.(This team was later sold to James Finch). When Ralphs decided not to re-sponsor the car in 2002, Bodine received sponsorship from minor sponsors such as Wells Fargo, before signing Hooters to a deal. As part of the deal, Bodine fielded a car from Hooters original driver Kirk Shelmerdine, for a couple of races. But after the team failed to make a race, Shelmerdine and his team splintered. In 2003, Bodine became involved in a nasty divorce from his wife and co-owner Diana. The dispute became so intense, that Bodine had to file a restraining order against his wife. That year, Bodine planned to run a partial schedule, running six events until June, when Hooters pulled the plug on its sponsorship program.
In the next race at Michigan, Bodine was seriously injured in a practice accident. The impact was violent, registering as high as 60 Gs. Brett suffered a broken collar bone and damaged teeth. He recovered from his injuries and tried again with a one race ride with the struggling Morgan-McClure Motorsports, but the car failed to make the field. With no major sponsorship for his team and most of his employees laid off, Brett attempted to run at Indy in a fan sponsored "Brick Car" where, for $500, fans would get their name on the car. The program was a success, but Brett failed to qualify for the race by .001 seconds. Rumors of a sponsor for 2004 and beyond surfaced, but nothing panned out and the team was sold. After all the recent events and struggles, he decided to retire. His team disappeared from the circuit, and now Bodine works for NASCAR's research and development program. He is working on cost cutting measures for the sport, the car of tommorrow, and he drives the pace car on Sunday (He will get bumped by Tony Stewart if Stewart is in the lead and the caution does come out, the same way Dale Earnhardt did to former pace car driver Elmo Langley).