- January 11, 1959
- United States
- Not Active
Brett Bodine is an American former racing driver and team owner who recorded more than 560 starts in all three NASCAR national divisions between 1985 and 2003, most in the Cup Series (480 races). He was a race winner once in the Cup Series and five times in the Busch Series.
During his retirement from racing, Bodine started to work for NASCAR in its research and development center, also serving as a driver of the official pace car at Cup Series races.
Brett Bodine is the third-generation racer in a family and both of his brothers are stock car racing drivers. The older brother Geoff (born 1949) was the 1986 Daytona 500 winner while the younger brother Todd (born 1964) was the Truck Series champion twice (2006 and 2010).
Third-generation racer in a family
Brett Elias Bodine III was born in January 1959 in Chemung, New York. His father and grandfather were also racing drivers and they built Chemung Speedodrome in 1951. When Brett was born, his nine-year-old brother Geoff already competed in micro-midget races.
Brett himself started a racing career in 1977 at the track owned by his family. He first participated in hobby stock races and then switched to modifieds, racing with such a cars until 1984.
Victorious NASCAR debut in 1985
In 1985, Brett was ready for NASCAR debut, participating in the NASCAR Winston Modified Tour and NASCAR Busch Series.
He scored one victory in Modified Tour, at the Race of Champions at Pocono, and three wins in the Busch Series, driving the #5 Pontiac for Hendrick Motorsports. He was a race winner at Martinsville, Bristol and North Carolina Speedway.
Two Busch Series seasons with Thomas Brothers Racing
In 1986, Bodine was driving a full season in the Busch Series for Thomas Brothers Racing, scoring two wins in the #00 Oldsmobile to finish second in the points, losing a title by twenty points to Larry Pearson. He also added two Modified Tour wins on his account. He was voted as the Busch Series most popular driver in 1986.
In the 1987 Busch Series season, Bodine stayed with Thomas Brothers, finishing third in the final classification with eight top 5 results.
Cup Series debut with Hendrick Motorsports in 1986
While competing full time in the Busch Series, Bodine made Winston Cup Series debut in May 1986, driving the #2 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports at Coca-Cola 600, finishing in 18th place.
In 1987, he expanded his Cup Series schedule to 14 races with Ellington Racing, driving the #1 Chevrolet/Buick. His best result was 11th place at Daytona's Pepsi Firecracker 400.
Full-time Winston Cup Series driver since 1988
In 1988, Bodine joined Bud Moore Engineering to drive the #15 Crisco Ford Thunderbird full time in the Winston Cup Series. He scored five Top 10 results to finish 20th in the points.
He stayed one more season with Bud Moore, driving the #15 Motorcraft Ford to six top 10 finishes. He ended a season 19th in the points.
Maiden Cup victory at North Wilkesboro Speedway
For the 1990 Winston Cup season, Bodine joined Kenny Bernstein's King Racing to drive the #26 Quaker State Buick Regal. In the seventh round of the season, at North Wilkesboro Speedway, Bodine scored his first and only Cup Series victory. Later in the season, he won his first pole position at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Bodine finished the season 12th in the points.
It remained his best season with King Racing. He stayed with the team until 1994, recording eight top-five results in four seasons. For the 1995 Cup Series season, Bodine joined Junior Johnson's team to drive the #11 Lowe's Ford Thunderbird. He was in the top 10 two times, finishing 20th in the points.
Driving for his own team since 1996
At the end of 1995, Junior Johnson sold the team to Brett Bodine and his wife Diane. Bodine also bought a team from Kenny Bernstein, merged two teams and formed Brett Bodine Racing. He continued to race in the #11 Lowe's Ford, finishing 24th in the points. It remained his best result in seven full seasons with his own team.
In 1997, Catalyst Communications became Bodine's new sponsor but the season was marked by a lawsuit because they stopped to pay sponsorship fee. In 1998, Paychex became a sponsor of Bodine's #11 Ford Taurus. Bodine's struggling performance continued and he managed to score just two top 10 results in six seasons. In 2001, the team expanded to two cars, fielding the #09 Ford for Geoff Bodine.
Retiring from racing in 2003
Brett's last full season in the Winston Cup Series was 2002 when Hooters was sponsoring his #11 Ford. He finished 36th in the points. Next year, Hooters returned but with far less funding than needed. After six races, Hooters canceled its sponsorship.
At the same time, Bodine was going through a divorce from his wife Diane, who was also a team co-owner. That affected the team. Bodine's last race attempt was at the Brickyard 400 in August 2003. Fans were sponsoring his car but he failed to qualify for the race. After all difficulties, the team was sold.
Post-race career as a pace car driver
Bodine retired from racing but he didn't retire from motorsport, staying involved in different duties. He was working for NASCAR as a Director of Competition its research and development center.
He took over pace car driving duties when previous driver Elmo Langley passed out and he's driving the official pace car ever since then. He also serves as a chairman of the Driver Approval Committee.