When you’re an 18-year-old nitro Funny Car driver, you’re bound to experience new things with each race.

That will be the case for Bobby Bode when he competes at NHRA’s Denso Spark Plugs Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, April 16-18.

Bobby will be competing in his inaugural Four-Wide race. Bob, Bobby’s father/team owner and fellow nitro Funny Car driver, has talked to his son about what it is like competing in a Four-Wide national event because he has done it several times.

“We discussed it just the other day,” Bob said. “Bobby is a student of drag racing and he’s watched the Four-Wide racing every year. He told me it is Lane 2 and Lane 3 that all the guys get screwed up. He’s watched really smart, veteran drivers forget to stage their cars because they are looking at the wrong bulb. He’s watched it and he’s told me he knows what side of the tree he needs to watch. We are hoping he will not have any trouble.”

The elder Bode welcomes the Four-Wide format.

“I like it,” he said. “It’s more fun because it is so confusing when you to the starting lines. There are three other cars there and they are pushing cars and telling you to hurry up and it levels the playing field. When there are two cars, it is just you and the other driver, but when there are four cars you can screw up and still look pretty good.

“It really helps the odds for the little guy. We are looking forward to it. Bobby has already been looking at things and trying to figure things out. He worries about all the little things. He watched drag racing for the last 10 years and paid attention to everything.”

This will be Bobby’s second appearance at The Strip in Vegas.

“We were there at the final race of last season and we didn’t qualify,” Bob said. “It was a two-round deal and we smoked the tires in the first run and the car was on a good pass on the second run and we missed the tune-up and we burned a hole in the piston and that oil pan pressure shut us off. We barely missed qualify and it shut off at halftrack. We just didn’t have enough passes to get the compression right.” 

Although Bobby, who is completing his freshman year at Arizona State University in Tempe, lost in the first round to Robert Hight at the season-opening Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., March 14, his dad was happy how things unfolded.

“We picked up and went 4.02 against Hight, but he went 3.92, but Bobby left with him, so he was pretty happy with himself even though he lost,” Bob said. “It was a good weekend for us even though we lost in the first round. Every pass we did a little bit better and got it down the track. The car gets better all the time. I think Robert had an 86 light and Bobby had an 89 light. So, we have a driver in the seat who can win races. When I was in there (driving) I had 120, 140 lights and with him in the car he can win, we just have to get the car to go faster. It’s a lot of promise for us.

“The car was running really good in Gainesville and now we just have to make sure we have the data from screwing up the compression when went to Vegas in October, so we know where to start with compression. We also get three qualifying passes this time which should help us.”