As if losing his father, posting back-to-back DNQs, and trying to rescue his equipment from a flash flood in the pits during his hometown race at Joliet, Ill. wasn’t enough, Funny Car owner-driver Bob Bode got some more news that definitely wasn’t funny.
He has had to adjust his budget and travel plans, for funding from the racing-themed apparel company Stupid Fast Racing halted abruptly after the Chicago event concluded July 1.
After Chicago, my deal ended. It just ended. They were funding only a small portion of the car. We’ll be OK.
Bode said, “After Chicago, my deal ended. It just ended. They were funding only a small portion of the car. We’ll be OK.”
He declined to share details of his understanding of Stupid Fast’s business plans but told DragZine, “We’ll just smile and make the most of it. I do the best I can with what I’ve got. We’ll run our car like normal. As long as I can race my car, I’m still a happy guy.”
But Bode will skip the Western Swing to Denver, Sonoma, Calif., and Seattle and return to action next month at Brainerd, Minn., where he won his only Wally statue in 2010.
He said the Western Swing “was always going to be a problem. There’s not enough data for hot-weather tracks.”
Bode’s revised plan is to race at Brainerd, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, and Pomona. He said he might enter the Countdown races at Reading, Pa., and Ennis, Texas (south of Dallas).
“Instead of being at Sonoma, I’ll be with [10-year-old son] Bobby at Bristol for the Jr. Dragster championships [Eastern Conference Finals],” Bode said. “I’d rather be racing my Funny Car, but it’s just a matter of readjustment.”
Similarly, Grace Howell’s Pro Stock plans took a detour last week. The Aiken, S.C., racer announced July 8 she had parted company with the Cunningham Motorsports team.
She said, “The time has come for me to move on” but wished Jim and Gloria Cunningham well and thanked them for “helping make [her] dream come true.”
Said Howell, “For as long as I can remember, it has been my dream to race as a professional in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, and I can’t thank Jim and Gloria Cunningham enough for helping to make that dream come true. Over the last 11 months, I have had the opportunity to compete alongside some of the sport’s best Pro Stock racers, and I have learned a lot.”
Howell said she “plans to immediately begin working on the next phase of her career, which she hopes will include an opportunity return to the NHRA Full Throttle Series on a full-time basis.”
She said her heart has been with the Pro Stock class but said she would not hesitate to drive a Top Fuel Dragster or nitro Funny Car if the chance were presented. “The bottom line,” she said, “is that I want to continue racing professionally and right now, my focus will be on continuing to make that a reality.
Pro Stock is where I want to be but at the same time would certainly consider a switch to Top Fuel or Funny Car if an opportunity became available.
Her short-term plans involve returning to the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, participating with her father, Bill Howell. The Howell family team owns several entries in the Super Stock and Stock classes, including a Ford Mustang Cobra Jet.
She had joined Cunningham Motorsports in August 2011, and she made her debut in a Pro Stock Ford Mustang at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. In 15 races, she qualified three times and recorded a career-best run of 6.558 seconds at 210.67 mph.