INDIANAPOLIS – Cole Bodine will get an opportunity to compete in the 33rd Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals after receiving a scholarship from the Tony Elliott Foundation.
Bodine, 20, will drive a midget fielded by the powerhouse Clauson-Marshall Racing team with support from the Tony Elliott Foundation at the Chili Bowl, which takes place Jan. 14-19 at Tulsa (Okla.) Expo Raceway.
“It truly means the world to me,” Bodine said of the opportunity. “I was just hoping to get a Chili Bowl ride this year. Now with it being for Clauson-Marshall and the Tony Elliott Foundation, I’m humble and excited and hopefully we can do well for them.”
The Tony Elliott Foundation, founded in honor of late sprint car racer and two-time USAC champion Tony Elliott by his widow Cindy Elliott, helps drivers and teams realize their dreams by providing funding to deserving groups and individuals.
For Cindy Elliott, the chance to help Bodine live his dream by competing at the Chili Bowl with Clauson-Marshall Racing is an honor.
“It’s everything to me,” Elliott explained. “I know Tony Elliott would be so proud of the work that we’re doing because he came from meager beginnings and worked really hard to get where he wanted. So I wanted to turn around and make the foundation about that. Helping a kid realize his dreams in racing, whatever that might be.”
Bodine made his Chili Bowl debut in the 32nd edition of the event driving for Kevin Ramey. He finished eighth in his preliminary night B-Main and 12th in the E-Main prior to the Chili Bowl main event.
With support from the Tony Elliott Foundation and wheeling a Clauson-Marshall Racing entry, Bodine thinks he can do much better in the 2019 edition of the race.
“Last year, that was my first time ever in a midget,” said Bodine, who has worked this year as a crew member for Clauson-Marshall Racing while still pursing his dreams of driving a race car. “This year I want to put that sucker in the show.”
Tim Clauson, co-owner of Clauson-Marshall Racing with Richard Marshall, said that Bodine came to the team just hoping to earn an opportunity to race for the team at a high level.
“He is the kid that showed up with really nothing but his helmet bag and I told him he had to put his helmet bag away and pick up a rag and wash cars and wash trailers,” Clauson said. “He literally worked so hard for us that we kind of felt obligated to give him an opportunity in one of our cars.”
Bodine got that opportunity earlier this year, competing in a handful of USAC National Midget Series events. He nearly won his first USAC feature at Missouri’s Sweet Springs Motorsports Complex, ending up second after a late-race battle with Logan Seavey.
With that performance in mind, Clauson says he has high hopes for Bodine during the Chili Bowl.
“He showed at Sweet Springs this year in our car, he came within five laps of winning a USAC National race,” Clauson said. “It’s a tight bullring, kind of like the Chili Bowl is. It’s where he comes from. It wouldn’t surprise me for him to pull an upset.”