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A different set of Bodine brothers take to the track

By Deb Williams
Correspondent
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/04/30/11/24/1kOTnt.Em.138.jpeg|237
    - COURTESY OF BRETT BODINE FAMILY
    Alex Bodine, front, and Eli Bodine compete at Millbridge Speedway.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/04/30/11/24/15V0XX.Em.138.jpeg|421
    - COURTESY OF BRETT BODINE FAMILY
    Eli Bodine is in his second racing season and has captured two victories in the Beginner Box Stock division.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/04/30/11/24/BaDdh.Em.138.jpeg|237
    - COURTESY OF BRETT BODINE FAMILY
    Alex Bodine, a 13-year-old Mooresville resident, shows off his first podium-finish trophy.

For about a decade the Bodine brothers – Geoffrey, Brett and Todd – battled each other in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series before going their separate ways.

Geoffrey developed Bo-Dyn Bobsled, which helped the U.S. Olympic four-man bobsled team win medals in the Sochi Winter Olympics. Todd won two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championships. And Brett, who has an associate’s degree in mechanical engineering, became the senior director at NASCAR’s Research and Development Center in Concord.

However, anyone still wanting to watch Bodine brothers race need only look to Salisbury’s Millbridge Speedway, a dirt Outlaw Kart track. Mooresville brothers Alex and Eli Bodine, Brett Bodine’s sons, are in their second season at the speedway, in different classes.

Alex, 13, competes in the speedway’s Intermediate class, while Eli, 8, races in the Beginner Box Stock division.

Eli already has two victories, winning last summer and again in the speedway’s winter series. Alex, who has a podium finish under his belt, is closing in on his first victory in the class that uses a spec engine built by NASCAR driver Marcos Ambrose’s company.

“Where Alex has been disadvantaged is he didn’t start competitively racing until he was 12,” said Brett. “He’s racing against kids that have been racing since they were Eli’s age or younger. We’re a little less educated on racing compared to our competition.

“Marcos has worked with Alex. He and Alex have become pretty good friends.”

Prior to Alex racing at Millbridge, the youngster participated in some World Karting Association karting days.

“We didn’t race,” Brett said. “We’d go when they had an open track practice session from when he was 7.”

Alex wasn’t competitive last year, Brett said, because of the weight regulation in his class.

“Alex is a pretty big boy and we were always over weight for the class,” Brett said. “That is why this new (Intermediate) class really fits us well because it’s a faster class, plus we can weigh more total weight. They weigh them with the driver, so we’re much more competitive just by moving up in the class.”

Alex enjoys the competition he finds in racing but said he considers the people to be the sport’s most challenging aspect.

“Some of them are really good,” Alex said.

Eli told his father he wanted to race after Alex began competing. Once Eli started racing he discovered “it was fun,” he said, because “you get to race against other people.” Eli says two of the people he races against are friends, but only one, Hunter Kohn, attends the same school.

Eli points to “getting spun out” as the hardest part about racing and describes his first victory as “exciting.”

When not racing, both boys play baseball and basketball. Alex, a student at Mooresville Middle School, plays various infield positions in baseball and is a power forward in basketball.

Eli, a student at Rocky River Elementary, is a point guard in basketball, and like his older brother he handles various infield positions in baseball.

“Racing is more fun (than the other sports) because you get to go fast,” Eli said.

Alex said his father got him and his brother interested in racing after going to Millbridge one night to watch a friend’s son race.

“What else would my boys do?” said Brett, who started racing at age 18 at the track his parents owned in Chemung, N.Y. “They do every other sport, but they’re going to race, too. We’re going to race a little bit, whether we’re any good at it or not. We’re having a great time. It’s our family sport, and this is what we do as a hobby.”

Anderson returns at Texas

Pro Stock driver Greg Anderson, who underwent heart surgery in February, returned to racing in the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals at Houston. Even though the Mooresville resident and four-time NHRA Pro Stock champion lost in his first elimination round, he said he was “happy with the way things went, overall.”

Anderson, who missed the season’s first five races, said the weekend answered several questions and cleared up any reservations he had.

For his return, Anderson wore a unique chest protector that he requested Simpson build. The concept was based on the smaller size Top Dog chest protectors made by Simpson and worn by children who race go-karts. The carbon-fiber protector was crafted from a mold taken of Anderson’s chest.

Suarez makes Nationwide debut

Mooresville resident Daniel Suarez, a regular in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East and the Mexico Toyota Series, made his Nationwide debut at Richmond.

Suarez qualified 12th and finished 19th in a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

He then headed to Mexico, where he won his third race this year.

Suarez is fourth in the K&N East standings, with the next event set for May 17 at Iowa Speedway. He leads the points in the Mexico Toyota Series, with the next race scheduled for May 11.

Deb Williams is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Deb? Email her at dwilliamscltobs@gmail.com.
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