Ford Daytona test - Brett Bodine interview

Brett Bodine, driver/owner of the No. 11 Hooters Taurus, is testing only one car this week at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for next month's Daytona 500.  Bodine spoke about the upcoming season and the status of his team with ...

Brett Bodine, driver/owner of the No. 11 Hooters Taurus, is testing only one car this week at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for next month's Daytona 500.  Bodine spoke about the upcoming season and the status of his team with primary sponsor Hooters.

BRETT BODINE - No. 11 Hooters Taurus:

WHAT'S THE STATUS OF YOUR TEAM RIGHT NOW? "We're behind. I'm sure that's a common statement by a lot of teams, but we're really behind. We don't have very many cars built and it's gonna be very taxing for us to be prepared for the start of the season. We're here with only one car at the test. We've got another car in the works, but I don't know how or when it's gonna get done as far as testing at Talladega is concerned. We're just behind plain and simple, and we're scrambling to try to get caught up."

WHAT ARE THE PROSPECTS FOR DOWN THE ROAD? "Well, we're evaluating our situation. How we came out of this test was gonna determine some decisions down the road. We've just got to take everything we've got as far as information and try to make the best decisions for the race team. The good news is that Hooters is back as a sponsor. We haven't done anything as of yet on the change in ownership or partnership position or any of those things. We're working on it. Mr. (Bob) Brooks and Hooters was very involved in purchasing Pace Airlines and then spinning off Hooters Air, so that's taken up a lot of their time. We've been kind of put on the back burner as far as ownership change, but that's OK. The main thing is we're sponsored and we're here and we're gonna race. They were very busy in doing their airline deal and they're still very busy trying to get that thing fired up. It doesn't really affect us in any way other than the fact we've got our sponsorship and we're trying to prepare for the 2003 season. The rule changes and all those things is what really hurt us. We got a late start building cars because of the templates and uncertainty of the templates and being a smaller team has put us in a more compromising position."

THE END OF LAST SEASON WAS A STRUGGLE. IS THIS DUAL ROLE WEARING ON YOU? "Last year was the real down point. That was the most races we had ever missed. We went through the year before and didn't miss any races, but we missed four last year. The thing is we're still in business. I guess there's a lot to be said for that. We're not in business the way we want to be, but we can find a place here and compete and, hopefully, we can compete at a higher level than we did last year."

JON WOLFE HAS BEEN HIRED AS YOUR CREW CHIEF. HOW CAN HE HELP YOU BEST? "Jon coming on board has given us stability in the crew chief position. He's doing a good job of getting things organized and giving us a direction. The thing we've got to do is go out and perform. We've got to perform at a higher level. Certainly, his hands are tied because we're not funded anywhere near our competitors but we can pick our shots. We can pick our races that we feel like we can do a better job at and try to perform really well at those events. Fortunately, Mr. Brooks and Hooters understand the position and they understand where they're at as far as level of funding and they're realistic in their expectations."

HAVE THESE STRUGGLES MADE YOU WONDER IF THE DRIVER/OWNER SCENARIO CAN STILL BE DONE? "It could be done, I feel, if you were funded like these other race teams but what comes first the cart or the horse? Unfortunately, we have not been able to perform to deserve higher funding and, consequently, that puts you in a position where you're probably not gonna be in position to get higher funding. Like anything, no matter what occupation you're in or what you're doing, you do the best you can with the resources you have to work with. We're just in a position where we have less to work with and we just have to do a better job."

MOST DRIVERS ARE PRETTY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE START OF A NEW SEASON, BUT IN YOUR CASE IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU'RE JUST THINKING ABOUT SURVIVING. "It is about survival, but it's also about the fact that I've got 25 employees and families that depend on our business for income and their livelihoods. I have a responsibility to those people to make sure that the business survives. I have a responsibility to my family to make sure the business survives. This is my form of income and livelihood. Certainly, you want to go out there and perform and be competitive and try to win races, but you also have to be realistic. Are you gonna run your business out of business? If you're chasing the brass ring and it's not attainable, what is your next-best option? You have to be smart and not run yourself out of business. The racer in me has nearly run my company out of business several times, but, fortunately, with the knowledge and business savvy that Mr. Brooks brings to the table, I think he's gonna help us survive and I also think in the long term he's gonna help us become more competitive."

HOW WOULD THIS NEW SCENARIO PLAY OUT WITH MR. BROOKS? "We're still working on all that. We're trying to decide what works best for all of us. He doesn't necessarily want to be a hands-on team owner because he's got a big business to run and just took on a big project with an airline. It's more of a financial move to help strengthen the team."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Brett Bodine