Danny Bohn of Freehold, NJ has a doubleheader weekend in front of him after the Southern Modified Racing Series (SMRS) season opener was postponed. Saturday is the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Myrtle Beach (SC) Speedway and Sunday the SMRS runs at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, NC.
Bohn has never been to Myrtle Beach. He has heard of the need to “be conservative” to save tires. His only experience of the track came from the online broadcast last month. Bohn believes his seat time on dirt tracks will help make him a contender.
Bohn plans to run the SMRS full time after the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour ended last year. He also plans to run a partial NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule for Fleming Family Racing. It may include a couple of northern races and all of the southern races at Myrtle Beach, Langley, Bristol and a non-points event at Charlotte.
“All the local stuff with the SMRS Series is a little more appealing to us because it’s closer than traveling with the whole tour,” Bohn said. “We’d like to be able to do the whole tour, but we just don’t know if we’d be able to.”
“I just don’t think this year is the year that we can afford to take that much time and spend that much money to do the tour.”
Locally, Bohn wants to run his own car at Bowman Gray. He will also run selected events at Wall Stadium driving the No. 51, including the Turkey Derby.
Bohn will return to drive for veteran Frank Fleming of Mount Airy, NC with a brand-new Troyer Chassis.
“I don’t have any excuses. We had like you said a real consistent season last year. We ran up front, we led a lot of laps, and got a lot of poles, and should have won a few races. But we just didn’t find victory lane so that’s our goal for this year is just to win as many as we can.”
Bohn is sponsored by Rust-Oleum brands, Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair, Bilstein Shocks, Goodridge fluid transfers, William Smith’s Trucking, and Louisville Auto.
The Southern Modified Racing Series uses a different tire than the NWMT. Bohn has limited experience with it at the North-South Shootout and the Turkey Derby. Bohn feels his seat time at Caraway, Concord, and Hickory will be beneficial.
“I think we can be competitive in all the races. It’s just going to come down to the tire strategy. I feel like last year a lot of people were swapping lefts and putting a right rear on and seemed to make it work and we did it on the tour a couple times and we just couldn’t figure out how to make it work.”
Langley Speedway in Hampton, VA will host the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour on May 13. The track hosted 8 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour races between 2010-15. The historic .4-mile oval was dormant last year after a dispute with the property owner and track promoter. Bill Mullis purchased the facility this season and will also host the NASCAR K&N East Series in September.
Bohn won the pole in his first race but broke a rear end on the parade lap. Bohn is excited to see how the race pans out between southern drivers with experience competing against the northern teams first race there.
“It changes a lot throughout the course of the day. … We ran well there and I’ve always ran in the top five there but just trying to find where you want to have the car at at night time, rather than during the day is the biggest challenge at that place.”
Bohn was impressed by the attendance, calling it the second to only Bowman Gray in the region.
“It’s always nice to race in front of a big crowd … We’re definitely all excited to go back there and support them and hopefully have a good turnout with the fans.”
Bohn had a banner year last year in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour’s final season. He was fourth in points for his second top five effort. His 3 poles were the second best of his career. He had 8 top fives and 10 top tens. His 4.7 average start was the second-best of his career. His 5.3 average finish was his second consecutive in the top 5. The best run of the season was second in the inaugural race at East Carolina Motor Speedway in Robersonville, NC.
“It hurt us a little bit on our plans and what we intended to do but we’ll make the best of it. It’d be nice to be able to race against those Northern guys.”
“…I think it’d be better for everybody if we raced altogether. It would help the Southern guys. The Northern guys usually prevail but at some tracks, the Southern guys do so, you’re only as good as your competition. I think it would definitely make us have to step up our programs down here and to race against those guys like Coby and all them guys up there every week. I think it would be awesome.”
Bohn’s day job is working on car sales for three time NASCAR Cup Series crew chief Ray Evernham. The variety of car builds includes projects for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Valvoline, and the car from the American Graffiti movie.
“It’s definitely neat to be in his presence, be a part of the stuff that he does, and just to be able to work in that shop.”
You can watch the car restorations on the AmeriCarna show on Velocity. Restoring former cars from racing greats Mario Andretti, Jerry Cook, and Richie Evans is part of the job.
“It’s pretty much more of an honor to be able to be a part of that stuff than going to work and working at a desk job. I get to experience a lot of cool things, travel around, and meet a lot of cool people.”
Bohn grew up watching his grandfather and father race. Bohn started racing in 2003 on the infield oval at the age of 14. He won 13 of 16 starts en route to the 2004 Wall (NJ) Stadium Speedway championship. His younger brother won all 16 starts the next season in Bandoleros.
Bohn mentioned his family’s support as a reason for his success. Bohn’s father Eddie retired after Danny and his older brother started their driving careers. He has supported Danny’s career, missing only three races.
Parker Bohn was a champion at Wall Stadium Speedway, and bygone Old Bridge (NJ) Stadium, Wilmington (DE) Speedway. Bohn drove a Sportsman car, winning against the more powerful Modifieds. His lengthy career including racing in Delaware, Long Island, and throughout his native New Jersey.
“It didn’t matter if I won by half a lap or if I crashed. He always had constructive criticism to just try to make me better. It was neat to be able to get that from him and have him there for the couple years that I did race up there (at Wall).”
Bohn moved to the new MAD division for crate engine Modifieds in 2006. Bohn won back to back championships at Wall and the North-South Shootout at Concord for the SK Light division.
Bohn picked up a Modified win for Frankie Tiln at Wall.
He moved to North Carolina in 2008 and began racing IMCA dirt Modifieds in 2009. He picked up the track championship at East Lincoln Motor Speedway in Stanley, NC. He won two seasons there including the track’s biggest race.
He started at Bowman Gray in 2011 and won his second night. He struggled in his debut during the 200 lapper. Twin 25s the next week saw him finish eighth and won from the pole in the second race.
The steering box car was hand built by his father Eddie in 1991. The car has been driven by five family members, including Danny and his brothers. The family’s No. 659 was driven by Eddie and later by his grandfather Parker Bohn when it as a backup car. It was brought out of storage from Charlie Santilli’s garage and hit the track again.
The car still has the original front and rear clips, competing on Saturday nights at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC.
“It’s kind of like an old pair of shoes. We could one day maybe get a new car but that thing. We raced against brand new stuff and we beat it. It’s just that extra incentive I guess when we do win.”
“… It’s got so much history and it is a car that my dad built so it’s definitely neat.”
Sources: Nicholas Teto/YankeeRacer.com