Returning to His Roots: Geoff Dodge Attends World of Outlaws Event at Knoxville Knoxville, IA--June 25, 2006 -- Geoff Dodge has raced at the most famous track in sprint car racing, as well as the most storied track in the entire world, all in...
Returning to His Roots: Geoff Dodge Attends World of Outlaws Event at Knoxville
Knoxville, IA--June 25, 2006 -- Geoff Dodge has raced at the most famous track in sprint car racing, as well as the most storied track in the entire world, all in less than a year. After being named the Rookie of the Year at the Knoxville Nationals at Knoxville Raceway last year, he was able to secure a spot in the Fast Track to Indy program. This past May he wheeled an Indy Pro Series car at the hallowed oval.
Dodge finished 8th in that event, after starting shotgun on the 19 car field. He was the story of the day, as he hit the wall on the opening lap of the event and drove the entire 40-lap distance with a bent front suspension to finish on the lead lap. He thrilled the crowd as he passed cars seemingly at will both on the high side of the track and the bottom.
Born and raised in Colorado Springs, Colo., watching his dad Dick wheel sprint cars, Dodge now calls Speedway, Ind. home. He drives for Brian Stewart Racing in the Indy Pro Series, the top development series for the Indy Racing League. In only four races this season, he has two top-10 finishes.
On Friday night, Dodge came back to the track that vaulted him into the spotlight, to watch The Mediacom World of Outlaws Shoot-Out Presented by Sonic, America's Drive-In. After shaking many hands in the pits and receiving well wishes from the fans, he helped out Justin Henderson and the crew of the Jolt Energy Gum Schnee prepare for the night of racing.
"It's great to come back to Knoxville," Dodge said. "This is the place where my biggest career break to date took place. It's kind of like coming home to an old friend. Knoxville is the most awesome track in the world. It's good to back around the World of Outlaws and sprint car racing."
In between turning wrenches in the pits, Dodge had a chance to chat with World of Outlaws officials that were present, and thanked them for all that they have done to help him make a name for himself in the Indy Pro Series.
"The World of Outlaws stepped up and got on board, as a financial supporter of our effort," said Dodge. "We also have Knoxville Raceway, as well as Ticket Director, so we have the short track connection and have gotten a lot of help from those people. It's nice to have the short track community behind us, doing the Indy Pro Series deal."
Dodge who grew up racing on dirt, knew he was in for a big change, as he strapped into a rear-engine Indy-style car. His team has provided him with all the resources needed for him to be successful on and off the track. He is making the most of this golden opportunity.
He even had the chance to drive his first non-oval race, on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. He finished a very respectable 11th in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the tight street course, racing against drivers that had grown up racing road and street courses.
"We're getting better and better," Dodge said. "We go to so many different tracks and you basically start over at each one, kind of like you do in a sprint car. It's kind of like you have run your entire life on a quarter-mile and come to the half-mile at Knoxville, and you have a lot to learn. We're learning every time we go out, and I am feeling better on the big tracks. We raced really well at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We're getting better and better. Hopefully we can find a way to continue doing it, because I really do enjoy that type of racing."
Dodge tested an IPS machine at the Milwaukee Mile last week in preparation for the upcoming event at the nation's oldest speedway. He was not the only driver in the pit area Friday though that had competed at Knoxville as well as Indianapolis. Craig Dollansky driver of the Karavan Trailers Maxim, who has two World of Outlaws victories so far this season and 14 in his career, raced at the Brickyard in 2003 in the Pro Series as well.
"The Indy Pro Series is a lot of fun, and running at Indianapolis was awesome, but not the same as running sideways in the dirt," said Dodge.
Despite focusing most of his time and energy on his Indy Pro Series ride, Dodge still itches to get back into a sprint car, and slide it through a turn.
"Every morning I wake up and think about sprint car racing," Dodge said. "Unfortunately we haven't been able to get anything going yet, but we're working on it. Hopefully we'll be in a sprint car sometime soon. Sprint car racing is my passion, as far as racing goes."
Expect Dodge to turn more than a few competitive laps on the dirt before the season is over. Just like riding a bike, racing on dirt is one thing he will never forget how to do.