The wait is over for Bobby Bode.
Bode, 18, the son of veteran nitro Funny Car owner/driver Bob Bode, finally was able to complete the requirements to receive his nitro Funny Car license.
“This is such a huge relief to get my license,” Bode said. “Honestly it still feels surreal just because this has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid. Because of the (COVID-19) pandemic I was having to wait it out, so this is a huge relief to get this done.”
Bode completed his license in St. Louis Oct. 5, the day after the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, ninth annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals presented by Pennzoil took place at the facility. The younger Bode was piloting the Funny Car owned and driven by his father. It is a Ford Mustang, a car the elder Bode bought from Tim Wilkerson.
“I went into the (session) having to make two full passes to complete my license,” Bode said. “I ended up making three passes that day (Oct. 5) because the first pass we were having some car problems with the idle. The idle was too high because we had an air leak in the manifold, so the car didn’t run. The second run, I went to about 700 feet and the numbers were quick enough for licensing. It was like a 4.60 at 250 mph.
“The third one, which was the last one, I tried going all the way and it pushed a head gasket out at about 800 feet. The early numbers were quick enough to go probably a low to mid 3.90. It was on a really good pass, and then it ran 4.20 at 260 mph. It was hauling.”
Nitro Funny Car driver Paul Lee and Bobby’s father, Bob, signed off on his license for him.
Bode is going to make his NHRA nitro FC debut at the Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals Presented By Pennzoil at Houston Raceway Park, Oct. 23-25.
Assuming Bode debuts in Houston, he will be 18 years-6 months, making him the youngest nitro FC competitor in NHRA history. According to NHRA records, Billy Meyer previously was the youngest FC competitor at 19 years, three months in 1973.
“It will be cool to be the youngest person to drive an NHRA Funny Car if that’s the case,” Bobby said. “I’ve been there twice (to Houston Raceway Park) to watch my dad race, but I have never raced there before. I’m so excited to drive at Houston and I know I will be nervous as well because it will be surreal. I’m going to see all the people I have looked up to for the past 10 years and me being able to race with them is going to be so awesome.”
Meyer remains the youngest person – at age 16 – to earn a Funny Car license. In the fall of 1972, 18-year-old Meyer won drag racing’s most prestigious independent – non-NHRA sanctioned – Funny Car race, the 1972 Manufacturers Funny Car Championship at Orange County International Raceway in Irvine, Calif.
The younger Bode tried to complete his licensing requirements Aug. 10 at a private test session at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, but he was only able to make one of the three full passes he needed to get cleared to drive.
Bobby is a freshman business major at Arizona State University in Tempe.
“I can’t wait to get to Houston,” he said. “I’m so excited.”
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