The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Martinsville Memories: Geoff Bodine's First Winston Cup Win

21 August 1997

                         Martinsville Memories 

Martinsville, VA - In 50 years, Martinsville Speedway founder H. Clay Earles
has shaken hands with hundreds of drivers in Victory Lane.

Only once has he hugged one.

When Geoff Bodine won his first NASCAR Winston Cup race in 1984, appropriately
at Martinsville, a jubilant Earles gave him a bear hug.

"When Geoff won that first race, we both were emotional in Victory Lane wiping
away tears," Earles said. "It's the only time I've ever hugged a driver 
instead of shaking hands with him. It was like watching one of my own 
children succeed since I had watched Geoff grow up in his racing career."

Bodine was equally touched. "This is one of the happiest moments of my life,"
he said after the victory. "Clay Earles has always treated me like a son and
this is a great place to win my first Winston cup race."

The first time Bodine entered at Martinsville, he was sent home.

"When he first came here he was just a kid. He had his own Modified which was
years ahead of its time. It was safe but it just wouldn't pass NASCAR
inspection and we had to send him home. I told him I hoped he would come back
and he sure did."

In 50 years of racing, Bodine is the only driver to win at Martinsville in
three different NASCAR divisions, Winston Cup (4), Grand National (2) and
Modified (7).

Not bad for a driver who had to borrow a wig and race in a Powder Puff Derby
to get his first start.

At 16, Bodine knew he wanted to drive a race car but his parents, who owned 
the one-third mile Chemung Speeddrome, preferred he mow grass, pick up trash
and clean toilets.

But when his father, Eli, scheduled a Powder Puff Derby, Bodine started
scheming. He had a friend with a car and a cousin with a wig.

"Quite a few people knew what was going on, but my parents didn't," Bodine
laughed. "That's how bad I wanted to drive."

Friend Mike Casterline provided the 1956 Chevrolet and Bodine's cousin, who
later became Pamela Casterline, gave him the wig. Bodine had logged numerous
practice laps but his parents didn't like the idea of him racing.

The wig was enough to fool officials before the race and his driving
experience got him through it, but still his parents found out.

"You did what?" was his mother's reaction.

"I didn't get grounded or anything like that," Bodine said. "They were
surprised though.

"I didn't remember where I finished the race," he added, "But I knew I
couldn't win.

Even now Bodine is still connected to ladies who race. While he drives the QVC
Ford on the Winston Cup circuit, he owns the Craftsman Truck Series Ford
driven by Tammy Jo Kirk.

Tammy Jo will race in the Hanes 250 on Saturday, September 27 at Martinsville
while Bodine will be in the Hanes 500 on Sunday, September 28 as the speedway
celebrates its 50th anniversary.

By Martinsville Public Relations