(Steve Eichelberger Photo)
Sweet Springs, MO | July 16, 2018 – As the old saying goes, “one man’s misfortune is another man’s gold.” Following Zeb Wise’s unfortunate collarbone injury that sidelined him for Mid-America Midget Week, Cole Bodine was called upon to pilot the Priority Aviation, Vision Collision, Spike/SR-11 No. 39BC in hopes of keeping the Clauson-Marshall Racing entry in the hunt for the USAC National Midget owners championship.
Entering Sunday’s event in Sweet Springs, Missouri, Bodine had seven nights of midget racing under his belt and was making just his fourth USAC main event start as he rolled out on the pole. Making the most of the opportunity he was given, the 19-year old native of Rossville, Indiana led 28 laps and went wheel-to-wheel with Seavey, Bacon and Carrick while contending for his first-career midget victory. Although he came home with a second-place finish after losing the top spot to Logan Seavey on lap 37, Bodine was still the talk of town on Sunday night as he lit up social media and the pit area with his impressive drive.
“What kept me calm was Sunshine and Grant reminding me that it was just a normal race, and they wouldn’t have put me in the car if they didn’t believe in me” noted Bodine. “They told me to just go out there and do my own thing, run my own race, stay smooth, and make 40 perfect laps, which I did for the most part except for the final few that mattered. It was still surreal finishing second in my fourth USAC start, it’s really crazy to think how everything fell into place and came together. It’s obviously a disappointment that Zeb was hurt, but I knew I had to make the most of this opportunity with the small window I had. Really I was just trying to prove myself, make laps, make all the features, and finish every race and just find comfort in the car.
A longtime standout in the micro sprint ranks, Bodine has been a force to be reckoned with at almost every big non-wing micro sprint event in the country. Running the family-owned Concept Chassis No. 57 with his father, Kevin, Cole has most notably scored a runner-up finish at the 2017 Tulsa Shootout and most recently won a thrilling $5,000 #BigDance main event at his home track of US-24 Speedway in Logansport, Indiana. After making his first laps in a midget in POWRi competition at Belle-Clair, Fayette County and Macon, Bodine was thrust into the spotlight following Wise’s injury and sent USAC racing.
“It was really nice seeing Rizzy happy, both Sunshine and Grant were thrilled for me, they were so happy you would’ve thought I won the race,” expressed Bodine. “I got on the phone with Tim [Clauson] after the race and he was super excited, so were Richard and Jennifer [Marshall], who were facetiming Zeb and they told me good job and they couldn’t wait to see me back in the car again., which felt really good.”
A young kid willing to work for every chance he is given, Bodine’s story of how he arrived at Clauson-Marshall Racing is what makes his breakthrough that much better. Showing up to the CMR shop and approaching Tim Clauson, Cole just wanted an opportunity, any opportunity he was given. Joining the team as a crew member, Cole worked relentlessly from the off-season to Chili Bowl to starting the new USAC Sprint Car operation and running three cars with the USAC National Midgets. It all came to fruition when he was able to try his hand with the POWRi Midgets and then with this opportunity last week, Cole went above and beyond as he continued to prove himself in every aspect of the operation.
“I have done a lot of great things in this sport, but few make me more proud than tonight,” stated Tim Clauson on a Facebook post. “Cole Bodine has worked his tail off for this opportunity, but as much as he has, Zeb Wise has as well and he was a huge reason that this happened. If I walk away tomorrow, I know that we have done something that BC would have been so proud of in giving a couple of kids a chance to live their dream and prove that kids who are willing to give it everything they have to get a shot still have a place in this sport. Tyler Courtney and Justin Grant are two of the best professional race car drivers that every kid should aspire to be. Thank you all for being the reason I continue to do this. Tyler Rizzy Ransbottom I have no words to express what you mean to me. Thank you every sponsor partner and fan who has given us the encouragement to race on.”
With Zeb Wise almost fully recovered from his collarbone injury and expected to be back in the No. 39BC for the Pennsylvania Midget Week swing in August, it is unsure of when Bodine will next strap into a midget, but nonetheless, this kid will be one to watch in the coming months and years as he looks to climb the racing ladder and further his career!