Geoffrey Bodine races to recovery

Bodine races to recovery By Dan McCorriston FORT WORTH (March 31,2000) After witnessing Geoffrey Bodine's horrific crash at the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season-opener at Daytona International Speedway, the sight of him walking around the ...

Bodine races to recovery
By Dan McCorriston

FORT WORTH (March 31,2000) After witnessing Geoffrey Bodine's horrific crash at the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season-opener at Daytona International Speedway, the sight of him walking around the infield at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend was a welcome one indeed. Aside from a cast around his wrist and a plastic back brace, Bodine appeared to be a good sprits and anxious to heal. "First of all, it's great to be here." Bodine said. "Coming to the track for the first time since the wreck and just seeing friends and all you guys with the media is real great. And yes, it's true I'm still alive. It's not just a rumor.

"I truly feel blessed to be here today. To have survived that wreck in Daytona was unbelievable. I am honored that God saved me. When you look at the wreck and you see that I came out of it with a only a broken wrist and sore back it's pretty amazing really. As of now, I got the pins out of my wrist and the back brace should start coming off next week."

As for getting back to racing, the plan is to make his racing return at April's NAPA Auto Parts 500 at California Speedway. Prior to that event, the No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet crew will head to Richmond International Raceway to test and to give Bodine some valuable seat time before he resumes his racing schedule.

"The plans are to race in California at the end of April," Bodine said. "But before that, we'll be doing some testing at Richmond. That is a good track to test at because its physically demanding on the driver and it should give us a good indication of where I am and how we're coming along as a team. We still have new engines this year that I haven't raced yet. Right now I'm at about 80 percent. If I can't race at 100 percent, then I won't do it, because I don't now of any other way to do it."

Dr. Charles Branch , who has been taking care of Bodine since the accident, saw the prognosis for his patient's recovery as very good.

"Geoffrey is coming along very well," Branch said. "We're plotting his recovery and looking for a comeback sometime in late April."

Branch explained the nature of Bodine's back injury -- a very common ailment among race car drivers and hunters that fall from of deer stands in trees -- with the use of can of soda.

"When I first saw the stuff going on in front of me I thought 'OK, here we go' ... I'd wreck, swear and get out and kick the tire. I had no idea it would be that dramatic a wreck." — Geoffrey Bodine "Think of a spine like a Coke can," Branch said. "When you push down on it, it's strong. But when you indent it in one spot it's not as strong when you push down. That's what happened to Geoffrey, and that's what the purpose of the back brace is. Usually it takes about 12 weeks to heal but we're taking steps to speed up the process."

Many may wonder what exactly was going through Bodine's mind during the accident's initial impact and the subsequent spins and flips that tore his truck to shreds along the safety fence. Any normal person would be scared to death, but what goes through the head of a veteran driver?

"The only thing I remember was the first impact -- when I hit the wall," Bodine said. "That knocked me out and all the rest of it I don't remember. When I first saw the stuff going on in front of me I thought 'OK, here we go,' and I thought I would just go in the wall and that would be it. I'd wreck, swear and get out and kick the tire. I had no idea it would be that dramatic a wreck."

To have survived such a terrible accident must have taken its toll emotionally, if not physically. In the weeks after the wreck and the hospital stay, Bodine has slowly been coming to terms with the ordeal and also how to steel his mind against any doubts he may have.

"Watching the video hasn't bothered me that much," Bodine said. "The one time it really bothered me was when I went to the garage and saw the remains of the truck and saw how little of it was left. The roll cage was completely torn off. Leaving the garage, it really hit me how lucky I was to be alive.

"I had a really bad wreck at Watkins Glen a while ago. I slid into tree as my breaks went out and I thought I was going to die. After I came back the next race I was in was at Michigan and I said to myself 'OK, this is it. I either do this right or I'm done.' I then went out and won the pole."

Racing is in Bodine's blood. It's who he is and he can't deny what makes him tick. When the event at California rolls around and it's time for Bodine to get back in the saddle, be assured he'll be ready to race and run up front.

-nascar.com-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Geoffrey Bodine