Hodges' life revolves around stock car racing

Mark Hodges moved West 17 years ago, but never lost his southern accent or his love for the sport that he grew up watching.

"I'm from Alabama.

We race cars or make moonshine.

Some do both.

I did both," said Hodges, nicknamed "Moonshine," started racing street stocks in 1981.

When he moved to Las Vegas in 1984, his late model car went with him.

"When we moved to Vegas there was no race track," said Hodges, who moved to Kingman last year.

"We didn't do nothing for a year, then they opened Las Vegas Speed Park.

"We went in there, unloaded our car, turned one lap and they told us to load the car back up because they ain't never seen nothing like that.

We loaded it up and parts of that car are still around in several different cars."

But the minor setback didn't deter Hodges.

He merely redirected his racing to modifieds, which are more popular on both dirt and asphalt ovals across Arizona and Nevada.

He races regularly in the IMCA modified class at Mohave Valley Raceway and in Pahrump, Nev.

But like many drivers, Hodges goes where there's racing action.

"We've been known to go to Canyon a time or two," Hodges said.

"If there's a race we don't care about driving 300 miles to go to it.

If it's an oval track, I'm on it."

Hodges races on both asphalt and dirt, but prefers the latter, especially after a collision on the asphalt track in Las Vegas in 1996.

"I ran Vegas from '84 to last year.

I broke my leg on that asphalt track.

So, when we moved here we went back to dirt," he said.

"I said they can have the asphalt."

During a race, Hodges was hit and spun into the wall.

It took some time before he returned to the track.

He not only had to regain strength in his leg, which has a metal rod in the lower part, but his confidence as well.

But once racing is in your blood, it's tough to walk away and even though he questioned himself, Hodges knew he'd be back in the groove soon.

"I got taken out," he said of the crash.

"Once you get hurt, you lose your nerve.

"I just got back in the car and did a little at a time.

Finally, I said, 'hell with it, if we wreck, we wreck.' Simple as that.

"You're safer in this race car or any race car than you are getting in your car and driving down the street.

Getting hurt in a race car is like 100-to-1 chance it's going to happen.

We've had these cars upside down and end-over and got out of the car hotter than hell and start over again."

He's stayed injury-free since that accident, but this season it's his car that's struggling.

"We've gone through three motors and a clutch and we rebuilt it two weeks ago," he said.

Hodges sponsors three cars driven by Kingman's Stacey Pike, who won the modified race last weekend at Mohave Valley, and Brian Turner, who won the factory stock race.

Turner's nephew, Kevin, also races factory stock.

Hodges is hoping for a top 10 finish in points at Mohave Valley "if we can get this bad luck off of us."

Hodges and wife Pam have three sons — 7-year-olds Austin and Jeb Stuart and 3-year-old Rhett — who already have a love of racing.

Chances are good that he and his boys will someday share the same track.

"The day I quit racing is the day they plant me," Hodges said.