Geoff Bodine Says Parity in NASCAR Has ‘Ruined Racing’

Jackson Wheeler
5 Min Read

Former NASCAR driver and team owner Geoff Bodine believes the parity in the Cup Series has “ruined racing” and contributed to the aggressiveness found in the sport today.

“You can change a little bit (on today’s NASCAR Cup cars) but not much, and to us older guys, that’s ruined racing,” says the 74-year-old Bodine. “We always liked to be innovative. I always tried to design something better. Now, NASCAR might outlaw it, which they did a lot, but that was the fun part of racing back then. You could try to make something better. You can’t do it today.

“If you don’t put the right bolt in the right place, they have them numbered, you get fined. They tear your car apart and see that you got a nut and a bolt in the wrong place, you’re in trouble. That just sounds overkill. We’d look at a pile of nuts and bolts, pick one out and put it where it needed to go.

“They’ve taken a lot of fun out of it, but it’s big business. It’s more business than fun.”

The sport began its transformation into big business in the 1980s when corporate America discovered NASCAR as a marketing tool. Bodine says prior to that time drivers didn’t receive salaries. They received a percentage of their winnings if they didn’t own their team. The split was usually 60% team owner and 40% driver. Bodine believes the fact that drivers now receive salaries as the result of sponsorships and aren’t totally dependent on their finishing positions for take-home pay contributes to today’s aggressive driving.

“We’d still bump, but we didn’t wreck,” Bodine says. “As soon as we got the salaries, then the wrecking started. You made more money out of a salary than racing. They still all want to finish, but they’ve been told to drive it as hard as it will go. They’re good and they drive hard. I wouldn’t want to be out there with them. They’re crazy.”

Bodine, an 18-time winner in Cup in a career that spanned nearly 30 years, cites a team’s fleet of race cars as also contributing to the aggressiveness. Today, NASCAR limits each Cup team to four cars. However, when the top organizations weren’t limited in their inventory aggressive driving became more acceptable, Bodine said.

dale earnhardt, 1987 sovran bank 500

Geoff Bodine (5) was a hard-nosed racer who made a name for himself after a series of on-track battles with Dale Earnhardt (3) in the 1980s.

Tony Tomsic//Getty Images

“These kids would come in, the owner would shake their hand and say, ‘Son, drive it as fast as it will go. We’ve got lots of cars.’ They didn’t care if they wrecked because they had lots of cars,” Bodine said.

That wasn’t the case when Bodine drove for team owner Bud Moore in the early 1990s.

“When I drove for Bud Moore, he’d shake your hand and then start squeezing it harder and say, ‘You wreck my car for no reason, I’ll get somebody else to drive,’” Bodine says.

Bodine, whose 1987 three-race wrecking ordeal with Dale Earnhardt at Charlotte Motor Speedway became the basis for a scene in the movie Days of Thunder, maintains that when NASCAR didn’t stop the seven-time NASCAR champion from wrecking people, younger drivers followed suit.

“They (NASCAR) slowed it down for a while, well that got boring,” Bodine says. “So, then it’s ‘Okay, wide open again guys.’”

However, Bodine, who started final Cup Series race in 2011 at the age of 62, points to the cars’ parity as making aggressiveness a necessity.

“They have to be, especially on restarts, because once the tires get going and everyone’s going, it’s hard to pass because the cars are exactly the same,” Bodine says.

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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