NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – One can take a look at Geoff Bodine’s hands and know he’s spent his life in and around motorsports.
The 74-year-old on the weekend of Feb. 10 was putting those robust paws to work at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway, helping friend George Alexander set up his Sportsman car for the track’s annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. A gray “USA” hat was protecting his head from intense sun rays; blue jeans shielding his knees from abrasive asphalt. Completing Bodine’s ensemble was a black t-shirt displaying the cover of his new book.
“All of It: Daytona 500 Champion Tells the Rest of the Story“ is what Bodine considers his latest calling in an up-and-down life. He’s proud of the journey, and of the paperback product in which that journey culminates. But the 1982 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year remains humble. This book may be about him, but it’s not for him.
“What I want people to walk away with,” Bodine explained,” is that if you truly believe in God, you might get a miracle when you need one someday.”
Bodine received his miracle when he survived the infamously vicious crash he experienced at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 18, 2000. Many know about the accident in the NASCAR Truck Series race that day. They’ve seen the breathtaking photos and videos, and they’ve heard Bodine’s story about his spiritual experience. He often recalls how, while knocked out from the impact of the crash, he saw and spoke with an image of his deceased father, who in the vision told Geoff his time on earth was not yet finished.
What many don’t know about that accident, though, is the preceding series of life-changing events. Bodine’s book is filled with “the rest of the story” on the Daytona crash as well as many other trials he’s powered through on his way to his status as a racing legend.
“Whenever somebody mentions (the Daytona crash) in some form, I say, ‘Well, let me tell you the rest of the story,’ ” Bodine said about one of the many tales included in the 328-page publication. “This book, we’re proud of it. It tells my story to get to Cup, talks about NASCAR, but there’s things people don’t know about.”
Added Bodine with a laugh: “I tell about how people cheated. I don’t name any names.”
Named one of NASCAR’s 75 greatest drivers, Bodine maintains the idea that he should be dead. Nobody, he believes, should have been able to survive the wreckage his body navigated almost 24 years ago.
Now he’s thankful for the accident. After all, he technically was the one who asked for it.
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The years and months leading up to the 2000 season were difficult for Bodine as he was forced to reckon with the mortality of his racing career. His Cup Series opportunities were dwindling as he entered his 50s.
Those professional factors combined with Bodine’s personal struggles pushed him to consider suicide on multiple occasions. When he reached his lowest points, he relied upon his Christian faith. He recalls a specific prayer in which he asked for a way he could repurpose his life to help others. He repeated that prayer for months before receiving an answer.
“I didn’t know it was going to be a crash,” he said. “But, I’d do it again if that’s what it took. … It hurt; it took me months to get back in (a car). But there’s no question in my mind that prayer works. So that’s what I want to get across to people. That’s the main reason I wrote the book.”
Bodine said he never imagined he would write a book for others to read. In part because he as a driver loathed digesting negative feedback from motorsports media, and he’s never been much of a reader. He’s thankful his sons do indeed like to read.
Once he was moved to start the process, he connected with author Dominic Aragon and Trilogy Christian Publishing. The process took years. Bodine and Aragon met on multiple occasions over the phone and in person so the latter could help the former tell his story. The more Bodine spoke with his brothers Brett and Todd, the more Geoff felt he needed to include.
Finally, Geoff Bodine has a book he’s presenting to the public. He’s scheduled to offer sales and signings at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday and Sunday of Daytona 500 weekend; he’ll also hold a signing session during the Feb. 25 NASCAR weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Bodine hopes his book reaches others who seek spiritual guidance. Ultimately, he’s thankful for the opportunity to publish both his story and his learnings.
“I’m still here,” Bodine said. “How much better can you get? I’m proud of it. I worked for it. I wouldn’t change a thing.
“Although, I would like to be a driver now instead of then, because they get a lot of money now.”