This decision wasn’t easy for veteran nitro Funny Car driver Bob Bode to make.
However, for the first time in years, Bode sat out NHRA’s season-opening Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., in February.
“It was a tough offseason, we had too many things going on,” Bode said. “For us back here in Chicago in January it was so frickin cold we would have to load that car when it was like 25 below the week before Pomona. It was tough because we had not missed a Pomona in February in probably 15 years, but it was a good move. We loaded the car (April 18) and we were wearing short-sleeve shirts and it was way better than trying to do it in February. We also had the car was at McKinney’s getting a roll cage and adding safety updates.”
With the weather drastically better, Bode is ready to make his season debut at the Four-Wide Nationals Friday through Sunday at Charlotte, N.C. Bode’s business AR-BEE Transparent Products Inc., is one again his primary sponsor.
Bode has run the Four-Wide at Charlotte before and competed at the Four-Wide in Las Vegas last season.
“My wife (Alice) is not a fan of it (Four-Wide),” Bode said. “When she backs me up, she doesn’t like those middle two lanes much. We have not run the car yet and we would love to make no mistakes in Q1. Very few expectations and if the car goes down the track it should be pretty fast. If we can keep the car out of trouble and qualify somewhere between from ninth to 16th I will be happy. If I can get to Sunday in the Four-Wide, just about anything can happen.”
Bode was quick to acknowledge the help he’s been receiving from savvy veteran nitro Funny Car driver/team owner Tim Wilkerson, who is seventh in the season points standings entering Charlotte.
“We have a good race car and Tim keeps us out of trouble,” Bode said. “The stuff I have got from him, I have way better stuff than I’ve had the last 19 years. Tim is doing so good this year and last year he fed us all our tune-ups. We would ask him what to do and what direction (to go). “
The Ford Mustang Bode is campaigning is a car he bought from Wilkerson last year. Bode drove the Funny Car he purchased from Wilkerson in the final four races he ran in 2018.
“I ran my career best number at the last race of the season last year at Pomona,” Bode said. “I went 4-flat in Q3, and then Q4 I backed it up with a 3.98. We had never run two good passes in back-to-back sessions in my 20 years of racing.
We have a great race car and Tim is the one who guides us and keeps us moving down the right path. This is a great race car. In my old car, my 60-foot times were 920s and I think our best one out of the four races last year was 880. It is a huge difference. It’s like a whole new world for me and I’m liking it. Without Tim’s help, the car would have never run a 98. He took our clutches and set them up and for us it is a great race car and because Tim Wilkerson took us under his wing.”
Bode said he plans on running around eight to 10 NHRA Mello Yello races in 2019.
“After Charlotte, we were going to Joliet (Ill.), Norwalk (Ohio), Brainerd (Minn.), Indy, St. Louis, Vegas and Pomona,” he said.
In addition to his own racing schedule, Bode is devising a plan for his son, Bobby Bode III to move up the drag racing ranks. The younger Bode turned 17 years old April 23. He’s presently competing in the Junior Dragster class.
“Last year he did six passes in (Frank) Hawley’s alcohol car and we are going back with him in June to try and finish his alcohol Funny Car license,” Bob said. “If he gets through that and he’s comfortable, next year my goal is to let him try my (nitro Funny Car) on Monday somewhere and start making some hits and see how he feels. Since I bought this Funny Car I’m racing now from Tim, I still have two other Funny Cars that we might put him in to test. I don’t know yet. There are a lot of variables. I would like to put him in my good car and let him make a 60-foot hit. We will see how fits in as we move along. If all things work well, I would love to see him try and qualify my car next year.”
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019