New Kid Roderick Rocks the Bandits Championship Chase
Monday, August 4, 2003
Casey Roderick knows what he wants for his birthday.
He hopes that by the time he turns 11 on Friday, the day after the conclusion of Atlanta Motor Speedway¿s Thursday Thunder racing series, he can call himself champion.
In just his first season racing with the Bandolero Bandits division, Roderick leads second-place Hunter Robbins by just three points. With two rounds of features to complete Thursday before declaring a champion, Roderick knows he has a lot of racing ahead.
¿Hunter¿s been doing this a long time, and he¿s really good,¿ Roderick said. ¿I¿d be happy just to come in second to him, but I¿d rather take home the trophy.¿
Robbins, a former two-time Alabama State Bandolero Champion, has been racing Bandoleros since 2000 and has racked up nine wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway alone.
Roderick is no stranger to victory lane, either. He took home the Junior Sportsman Karting Championship at Barnesville Speedway when he was six - in a bracket for racers ages 8-12.
He¿s always been a quick learner. He won his first go kart race at age five and won at the World Karting Association Nationals in 2001, the first year he was old enough to compete.
¿From the time I got in a kart, it was like I¿d been driving one for a long time,¿ Roderick said. ¿It was just easy and I was racing pretty good right away.¿
It¿s been no different for Roderick in his transition to Bandolero cars.
When Legends of Georgia director Pete Horne watched him take his first laps around the ¼-mile Thunder Ring at Atlanta Motor Speedway, he knew Roderick wasn¿t an ordinary rookie.
¿Driving a Bandolero car isn¿t an easy thing to do,¿ Horne said. ¿There are a lot of adults who would have trouble driving one and Casey was not only driving but racing the first time he ever sat in the car.¿
Tommy Allison has been around his share of Bandolero racers, including sons Austin and Will Allison, who compete with Roderick each week. From the first time he saw Roderick on track, he knew the 10-year-old had talent.
¿He went out there and raced like he¿s been out there every week for the past couple of years, but we knew we¿d never seen him around,¿ Allison said. ¿They told me it was his first time in a Bandolero and I almost didn¿t believe them.¿
Midway through the season, the Rodericks enlisted the help of Allison and Jim Reidy, dad of Bandit driver Brett Reidy, to set up their Bandolero. That week, Casey visited Papa John¿s Victory Lane for the first time.
He¿s since won three of four Bandits division features at Atlanta Motor Speedway and all of the last five heat races.
¿We can¿t complain at all, no matter if we win the championship or not,¿ Roderick said. ¿We didn¿t think we¿d be winning races. We were aiming to finish second a few times this season, I guess. We were surprised a little by how easy driving a Bandolero came to me.¿
The 2003 Championship will be decided in all 8 divisions of Legends, Bandolero and Thunder Roadster racing Thursday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, including Roderick¿s Bandits division.
During the final week of Thursday Thunder 2003, Atlanta Motor Speedway will be celebrating Fan Appreciation Night presented by Fox Sports South and Fox 5 and there will be more for fans than the usual side-by-side racing and a peek at the future stars of NASCAR.
Former Winston Cup driver Ernie Irvan will climb into a Legends car for a match race with his protégé Kevin Conway, as well as sign autographs on concourse for the fans. The first 500 fans through the gate will also receive a special gift bag.
Gates open at 6 p.m. on Thursday and action begins immediately. Tickets can be purchased at Gate 13 on event nights, and adults are just $5, children 6-11 $1 and children 5 and under are free. Call (770) 946-4211 for more information.