- April 18, 1949
- United States
- Not Active
The former stock car racing driver Geoff Bodine, who competed in all three NASCAR national series between 1979 and 2011, was named as one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest drivers. In more than 700 races, Bodine scored eighteen wins in the Winston Cup Series and six wins in the Busch Series.
Between 1993 and 1998, Bodine was also a team owner, running two cars in the Winston Cup and Truck Series. Outside of racing, Bodine founded the Bo-Dyn Bobsleds company in 1992, building the bobsleds for the American Olympians.
Geoff's father and grandfather built a raceway
Geoffrey Eli Bodine was born on April 18, 1949, in Chemung, New York. Geoff's racing career was predetermined when his father and grandfather (Eli Bodine Jr. and Sr.) built the Chemung Speedrome in 1950. Little Geoff began to learn his racing skills at the age of five. The same thing repeated with Geoff's two younger brothers Brett (born 1959) and Todd (born 1964), who also became a race car drivers.
During the 1970s, Geoff became the successful driver of the modified stock cars, winning the championships at many speedways. He was especially successful in 1978, when he won more races than any other Modified driver in recorded history, writing his name in the Guinness Book of World Records. Out of 84 races he entered in 1978, Bodine won 55 times.
Guinness record holder debuted in NASCAR in 1979
After a huge success, he was ready for the NASCAR Winston Cup debut in 1979. His first race was the Daytona 500, where he drove the #47 Oldsmobile for Jack Beebe's Race Hill Farm Team. Bodine stopped after 99 laps due to engine failure and he was classified as 29th in his debut race.
He participated in three races during 1979, then in five races during 1981. His first full season in the Winston Cup came in 1982 when he was participating in one race with #23 Bahre Racing's Buick and in twenty-four races with Cliff Stewart's #50 Pontiac.
1982 - first pole and maiden NASCAR victory
On July 4, 1982, he scored his first pole at Firecracker 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Later he took one more pole at Talladega. His best result was the 3rd place at Riverside International Raceway and he finished 22nd in the points, becoming the Rookie of the Year.
During 1982, Bodine also participated in ten races of the NASCAR Budweiser Late Model Sportsman Series (later Busch Series, now Xfinity Series), driving three different cars for Plessinger Racing. In February, at Darlington Raceway, he won his first NASCAR race in the #99 Pontiac.
Geoff joined Rick Hendrick in 1984
Bodine spent the 1983 Winston Cup season in the Cliff Stewart's Gatorade-sponsored #88 Pontiac and then joined Rick Hendrick's All-Star Racing in 1984. He was driving the #5 Chevrolet in his maiden NASCAR victory, in April at Martinsville Speedway. It was also the maiden victory for Rick Hendrick's team, that was founded earlier that year.
Later in the season, Bodine scored two more wins, at Nashville and Riverside and finished ninth in the points. In October, he also won the Busch Grand National Series race at Rockingham, driving the #15 Pontiac for Rick Hendrick.
1986 Daytona 500 victory for Geoff Bodine
In 1985, Bodine finished fifth in the final classification, although he didn't win any race. He scored ten Top 5 finishes, including three runner-up spots. And then, in January 1986, the biggest victory of the career came. At Daytona 500, Geoff started fifth and led for 101 out of 200 laps, winning the race ahead of Terry Labonte. He added one more win to his account, in May at Dover and finished 8th in the points at the end of the season.
In 1986, Bodine recorded one race outside NASCAR, participating in one event of the IMSA championship, the 500 miles of Watkins Glen. He was driving Peerless Racing's #76 Chevrolet Camaro, together with Jack Baldwin, and they scored GTO class victory.
1987 Race of Champions winner
In 1987, Bodine participated for the first time at the International Race of Champions, winning the competition in his debuting attempt, ahead of Al Unser Jr and Bobby Rahal. Bodine won two out of four races, at Daytona and Watkins Glen.
Bodine stayed with Hendrick Motorsports for three more seasons in the Winston Cup Series. He was without wins in 1987 and finished 13th in the points. In 1988, he won one race (Pocono) and finished sixth. In the last season with Rick Hendrick's #5 Chevrolet, Bodine had one victory in North Wilkesboro and finished ninth in the points. In total, Bodine won 13 races in six seasons with Hendrick's team (both in Winston Cup and Busch Series).
Career-best season with Junior Johnson's team
For the 1990 season, Bodine joined Junior Johnson's team, to drive the Budweiser-sponsored #11 Ford. His first win came in April, at Martinsville Speedway. Later in the season he had another win at Martinsville and triumphed at Pocono.
Bodine finished third in the points, behind Dale Earnhardt and Mark Martin, which was his career-best result in the Winston Cup. Geoff was driving for Junior Johnson for one more season, winning one race in 1991 and finishing 14th in the points.
1993 - Geoff bought the team of late Alan Kulwicki
For the next two seasons, he was driving the #15 Ford for Bud Moore Engineering, winning three races. In 1993, after Alan Kulwicki's death in April, Geoff bought the team and switched to his #7 Ford for the last seven races of the season.
From 1994 to 1997, Bodine's #7 Ford Thunderbird was victorious in four races. He won three times in 1994 (at Pocono, Michigan and North Wilkesboro) and finished 17th in the points. In 1995, he was 16th in the points, although he had no wins.
1996 - last NASCAR victory at Watkins Glen
Bodine's last win with his own car, but also the last NASCAR win in a career, came on August 11, 1996, at Watkins Glen. He won ahead of Terry Labonte and Mark Martin.
While owning a team, Geoff also debuted in the Truck Series. In 1995, he participated in ten races with #7 Ford, finishing five times in Top 5. In 1996, he participated in four races with the #07 Ford.
In 1998 Winston Cup season, Bodine was driving the #7 Ford for the Mattei Motorsports, after he sold part of his ownership to Jim Mattei. When Bodine got an offer to drive for Joe Bessey in 1999, he sold the rest of his team. In 1999, his best result in the #60 Chevrolet was third place in the autumn race at Martinsville Speedway. It turned out to be Bodine's last full season in NASCAR.
2000 - Geoff survived horrific crash in a Truck Series race at Daytona
In February 2000, he was participating in the Daytona 250 Truck Series race, driving the #15 Ford F-150 for Billy Ballew Motorsports. On lap 57, Bodine was involved in a horrific crash. He was pushed by Rob Morgan and sent into the fence at a speed of nearly 190 miles per hour (310 km/h). The truck was completely destroyed and was hit by several vehicles before it stopped on the track. Bodine suffered many fractures. Nine spectators were also injured in the crash.
Geoff missed more than half of the 2000 Winston Cup season while recovering from injuries, starting in only fourteen races in Joe Bessey's #60 Chevrolet. His best result was 12th place at Indianapolis.
Retiring from full-time racing in 2001
After more than twenty years in the premier NASCAR series, at the age of 51, Bodine decided to retire from the full-time racing at the end of 2000. Since then, he occasionally competed in all three national NASCAR competitions with many different teams, scoring some notable results.
The highlight was his return to Daytona 500 in 2002, in the cockpit of the Phoenix Racing's #09 Ford. He started 35th and finished in the sensational third place, behind Ward Burton and Elliot Sadler. It was Bodine's last participation at Daytona 500, as he later failed to qualify two times, in 2005 and 2009.
In 2003, Bodine participated in three races of the Grand American Rolex Series, driving the #8 Picchio DP2 (BMW) for G&W Motorsports. His co-driver in all three races was Darren Law and their best result was the 8th place at Watkins Glen 6hrs, where they were partnered with Andy Lally.
Bodine ended his career at the age 62
Bodine recorded his last NASCAR attempts in 2011, driving the #35 and #36 Chevrolets for Tommy Baldwin Racing. He failed to qualify in four races and competed in four events. His last race was the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he crossed the finish line in 30th place.
In total, Geoff Bodine started in 575 Winston/Nextel/Sprint Cup races, scoring 37 pole positions and winning 18 races. For his achievements, he was named as one of 50 Greatest NASCAR drivers, in a panel organized in 1998, as a part of NASCAR's 50th anniversary.