Darlington: Brett Bodine interview

Brett Bodine, driver of the No. 11 Hooters Taurus, is close to signing a long-term deal with the restaurant chain. He spoke about where things stand at the moment and how much money he has lost over the last few years in unpaid...

Brett Bodine, driver of the No. 11 Hooters Taurus, is close to signing a long-term deal with the restaurant chain. He spoke about where things stand at the moment and how much money he has lost over the last few years in unpaid sponsorship.

BRETT BODINE --11-- Hooters Taurus

"We had some great news this week by continuing our relationship here at Darlington with Hooters Restaurant and Mr. Brooks and we're in negotiations for a longer term deal. That's great news and now the owner can worry a little bit more about driving and we can try to get our personnel in line. Hopefully we've plugged the dike, so to speak, as far as losing people and we can start getting our staff back in order to where we need to be."

HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE YOU LOST? "Between people that have left and people we've had to let go, it's right around 10. We probably won't staff back up to that many, but we're just gonna evaluate the whole program now and just try to get the people we have into the right positions and then fill the gaps with some new people."

IS THIS DEAL JUST A CASE OF DOTTING I'S AND CROSSING T'S? "Yeah, we've just got some areas we've got to button up to get this thing solidified for a long-term deal, but Mr. Brooks has certainly shown a strong interest in going forward and possibly even a multi-year deal."

YOU'VE BEEN THROUGH THIS SPONSORSHIP HUNT BEFORE. HOW WAS IT THIS TIME? "It's never been like this where we were five races into the season without a major. It seems like we keep digging ourselves out of these predicaments and this year, I think, was an extraordinary circumstance that put motorsports behind the eight ball as far as trying to raise funding for these race teams. I'm not the only one. If I was the only team here without a sponsor, then I'd say it was us, but I think it's the sport in general.

"We feel very fortunate. Let's face it, to be five races into the season and attract a major sponsor is amazing. I was beginning to doubt that we would be able to do it. Thankfully, we got to the right guy in Mr. Brooks and we didn't have to sell him on racing. We had to get his restaurants and our race team together and I think it's a great combination."

YOU'VE HAD A LOT OF SPONSORS IN THE PAST. WHAT KIND OF BILLS HAVE YOU ACCUMULATED THROUGH THAT? "In the last year, I've got 1.2 million dollars in unpaid sponsor bills and since my wife and I have owned this race team, it's close to 8.5 million dollars in bogus contracts. I don't know of any race team that can stand something like that happening to them and I don't know how we've been able to keep going. Unfortunately, it seems like in the past I've gotten involved with some companies that weren't very reputable in paying their bills and it forced me into being delinquent on my bills. Thank God for the good people in this sport -- the vendors and the tire companies and the engine people that have been lenient with us and kept us going because without their help we wouldn't be here. Unfortunately, in the past we've attracted some people that didn't want to pay their bills."

YOU SAID YOU DON'T KNOW HOW YOU'VE DONE IT, BUT YOU HAVE. HOW? "The big key is that we don't pay a driver. That's a big bill for a race team these days, so, fortunately, we don't pay a driver. The other thing is that my wife has been as hard-headed about not losing this race team as anybody and we've virtually re-invested everything we've ever made to keep it going and tried to make up the difference between those unpaid sponsorship commitments and trying to keep the bills as best paid as we could."

YOU'VE GOT A REPUTABLE COMPANY NOW DON'T YOU. "Exactly. It's great to be involved with Mr. Brooks and Hooters Restaurants because their reputation in this sport isn't only what they accomplished with Alan Kulwicki in the past, but also what they do in other series and other sports -- with their golf tour and all the charity work they do. I'm very proud to be involved with them and very happy and relieved that we've got such a great company on our race car."

-ford-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Brett Bodine