Veteran nitro Funny Car driver Bob Bode competed in NHRA’s Mello Yello Series season-opening race – the Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., Feb. 6-9 and had decent results.
The Illinois driver qualified No. 12 and then was upended by the legendary John Force in the first round.
Bode hasn’t been on the track since the COVID-19 pandemic halted Mello Yello Series Racing March 12.
In the latest revised scheduled, racing is supposed to begin July 11-12 with NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis. That event is scheduled to be followed up with another race in Indy July 18-19. Nitro Funny Cars are competing at both events and Bode will be there.
“We’re going to both Indys,” Bode said. “That’s the plan for right now and hopefully my son, (Bobby) will get to make a few hits in my car because there is testing scheduled (July 10) so he can start his licensing process. If he does good at the test session hopefully, he can test at the next Indy race (July 18-19). I’m not sure how open the testing is going to be. Anyway, we are going, and we are going to do as much as we can do when we get there.”
Bobby Bode, 18, was initially scheduled to test in Las Vegas in April, but that plan was scrapped because of COVID-19.
“We are also going to make some passes in Chicago, but we didn’t get to go to that race either (because of the COVID-19) so this will make up for it in Indy if they let us do it,” the elder Bode said. “I would love to see (Bobby) get licensed (this season) and he has to get comfortable in the car, that’s part of it. A good goal would be for him to get licensed by making a couple of passes here and a couple of passes there, maybe the last two in St. Louis. Then, when we go out West and let me him try and qualify the car. If he can do it, he can take my seat in the car, and if he can’t there’s no pressure from sponsors or anything like that. If he’s good enough to drive it and he’s better than I am, then let’s get him in there. If he needs more seat time to get comfortable to work up to it, I will keep driving until he’s ready. If I get lonely and bored not sitting in the car, I might drive it one weekend and let him drive it the next. We have a lot of options. He thinks he’s going to jump in there and do really good and I think he is. That would be the best way things could work out.”
Bobby has yet to make any laps in a nitro Funny Car, but he did make 17 runs in an alcohol Funny Car over the last two years at Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School.
“He has some good experience and we will see how he responds to a little quicker 60-foot times,” Bob said. “He did really good (in the alcohol car). He kept it in the middle so he’s ready to try (the nitro Funny Car) and we will just see how he responds.”
Bode wants to get things in motion for his son in terms of driving this summer because Bobby will be a freshman at Arizona State University in Tempe in the fall where he’s majoring in business.
Bode is once again campaigning a Ford Mustang, a car he bought from Tim Wilkerson.
“Tim is a great guy because he likes the youthful drivers and he likes the fact that Bobby is coming along and he likes to help the sport and he gives us some help,” Bode said. “If we don’t do anything wrong our car is a consistent high (3)90 car. We are in good sharp parts-wise. We, like everybody else out there, have been sitting around for six months working on parts. I have heads and blocks and motors all waiting to be used. The time off has been good for building inventory and we are in good shape.”