Bodine's Rodeo Is Not Limited To Asphalt

Todd Bodine's Rodeo Is Not Limited To Asphalt The concept of the traditional rodeo tends to elicit images of cowboys, boots, spurs, horses and rodeo rings. Some of the activities rodeo goers witness are barrel races, bare back, saddle bronc and...

Todd Bodine's Rodeo Is Not Limited To Asphalt

The concept of the traditional rodeo tends to elicit images of cowboys, boots, spurs, horses and rodeo rings. Some of the activities rodeo goers witness are barrel races, bare back, saddle bronc and steer roping. The rodeo's roots emerge from the western part of the country and has a history that stems back to the 1800s. The popularity of the rodeo is strong. And while the rodeo continues to grow throughout the United States, another rodeo has evolved during the 20th century.

Todd Bodine, driver of the Phillips 66 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, is a cowboy - an asphalt cowboy. And his rodeo is a metal rodeo. The thoroughbreads in this rodeo are not Arabians or Appaloosas, but Chevrolets and Pontiacs. One significant difference in the equipment used by Bodine and the equipment used by a rodeo competitor is power. Bodine's Phillips 66 Chevrolet generates the power of 540 horses. It would take an entire herd of Arabians to match the power of Bodine's Phillips 66 Chevy. The rodeo in which Bodine competes features precision, speed and skill. Points are not awarded for style or appearance, but for the finishing order. Bodine's rodeo, the NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division, travels coast-to-coast from February to November, providing heart-stopping entertainment and fierce competition. While Bodine dedicates the majority of his time to his racing career, he and his wife Lynn invest a portion of their time to some equipment they own that is characteristic of the traditional rodeo - horses. Granted, the chances of Bodine making an appearance in any upcoming saddle bronc contest are slim, but owning and taking care of the horses are a hobby with which he takes pride, despite some obvious differences between a horse and a race car. "Todd doesn't ride too much because horses don't have any brakes," joked Bodine's wife Lynn. "He doesn't' have as much control over what the horse will do. Plus, he can't make gear changes, adjust air pressure or make wedge adjustments."

The anatomy of a horse is enough to throw any race car driver a curve considering the limitation of possible adjustments. Instead of spoilers and chassis, horses feature hindquarters, docks, withers and flanks. Adjustments to the race car are intended to improve the handling of a race car. Adjusting a horse tends to be a little difficult. The only possible adjustments are to riding equipment such as saddles and bridles.

"You can adjust the height of the stirrups on the saddle," Lynn explained. "That is basically done according to a person's height. The bridle is adjusted according to the size of the horse's head. But you can use different bits depending on how much control you want. If you want more control then you need to use a harsher bit."

Despite some of the obvious differences between controlling a race car and controlling a horse, horseback riding is an activity Bodine likes to participate in when time allows for it.

"I really do like riding," Bodine said. "I enjoy it but I don't get to enjoy it enough. It's really hard to enjoy an activity outside of racing when racing is such a big part of your life."

While Lynn has spent the majority of her life aroung horses, the Bodine family bought their first horse in 1992. Lynn was active with the animals when she was a young girl participating in her local 4-H group. Three Quarter horses make up the Bodine stable. Cody, the oldest of the three, is 20 years old. Bronco and Way Kool are both eight.

Because racing tends to limit the amount of time race car drivers have away from the race track, the Bodines decided to take a proactive approach toward creating their own hobby away from racing.

"Racing is a sport that can consume your life," Bodine said. "Lynn's a pretty independent person. Having the horses is her thing. She was brought up around horses her whole life. Having horses as part of our family is just a continuation of what she was brought up around. She does that so racing doesn't consume her life."

Though the activity of stock car racing and horseback riding differ, the two activities share similarities when it comes to the preparation phase. When preparing for a Busch Series race, Bodine and his team dedicate one to two days fine-tuning the race car, making adjustments and ensuring Bodine's safety for raceday competition. Careful preparation is required when preparing for an outing via horseback. Bridles must be secure and saddles must be tightened.

"We have three complete check lists we go through when preparing the race car for an event," Bodine said. "The team will go over everything on the race car with a fine tooth comb. We check everything from motor mounts to making sure the rear view mirror is mounted. Shocks are checked, gears are checked, the driver's seat is checked. The list just keeps going."

Lynn is just as meticulous when preparing for an outing on horseback. Securing the saddle and bridle are among the preparation phase for any horseback adventure. Unfortunately, just as accidents can happen on the race track, they can happen while riding horseback. The most recent occurrence for Lynn was late last summer. "Ashlyn was three months old and I was out jumping on Bronco," Lynn recalled. "I was riding him English style. He stumbled and I went over his head. So there is some risk involved with horseback riding." Despite these incidents, the Bodines consider horseback riding a relaxing activity. The Bodine's have the luxury of a vast riding area thanks to their neighbors, and fellow horse owners, the Earnhardts. "We have a lot of area to go riding on our own," Lynn explained. "Our property backs up to the Earnhardts. Dale has a lot of trails and they let us come over on their property. That enables us to be out for hours without backtracking our steps." Although the chances of Bodine trading in his racing career for a barrel racing career are slim, he is not ready to trade in his horseback riding hobby anytime soon. "Going out on one of the trails gives me a chance to unwind," Bodine said. "I get out on the horses and it gives me a break from the hustle and bustle of racing. I think that's something everyone in this business needs from time to time."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Todd Bodine