Bald Bodine proudly wears the Onion label

Before baldness became fashionable and a cheap way to keep pates neatly manicured, those of us who were already follicularly challenged didn’t appreciate taunts of “baldy,” “chrome dome” or “onion head.”

Our head styles have been determined by genes, and we look down upon those too lazy to groom the hair they have.

We do not respect them. We do not envy them. Our parts run wide naturally, and we have foreheads that extend to the back of our heads.

On Saturday, we the hairless will rejoice over the arrival at Las Vegas Motor Speedway of Todd Bodine, the 2006 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion.

We will bow and hail the “Onion,” his chosen nickname.

He does not suffer from male-pattern baldness; he revels in it. We celebrate him.

Call him “Onion” and he’ll thank you. It brings tears to my eyes. Join his fan club and you become an honorary “Onion head,” whether you have bangs or not.

His Web site is simply TeamOnion.com. You can order his hats and T-shirts under the OnionWear tab. His pride in having no hair on his head — except for his eyebrows and goatee — is deeply rooted.

Beyond being a talented driver, Bodine charges to the front of the pack in popularity. He is what motor sports needs more of: a driver who truly appreciates the fans.

“We wouldn’t be here without the fans,” he says. “I wouldn’t be doing what I love.”

Bodine, 45, isn’t the only driver who says that, but he has a firmer grasp of that concept because he grew up not only in a racing family but at a racetrack. Older brothers Brett and Geoff competed at all NASCAR levels. They grew up in the sport and business at their family’s Chemung Speedway short track near Elmira, N.Y.

Track proceeds bought his first diaper.

Bodine’s understanding of what it takes to put on a race and the dependence on fans’ willingness to buy tickets has never left him.

“Todd has never turned us down when we’ve asked him to come in early to help promote a race or help with a charity event,” LVMS chief publicist Jeff Motley said.

Some drivers will do the same but seek perks in return, such as free race tickets or seats in a VIP box for friends or sponsors or both.

Bodine arrived in Las Vegas midweek to have some fun with his fiance and former race spotter, Janet Pazchowski. He was hanging out at the South Point with his buddy and fiercest truck competitor, Ron Hornaday Jr., on Wednesday.

Bodine joined the race’s news conference for lunch Thursday and was scheduled to bowl in the evening fundraiser for the Las Vegas chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities. Tonight he plans to participate in a free autograph session with other racers from 7 to 8 at the Stratosphere.

In the Las Vegas 350k on Saturday, Bodine will be the only starter who has won more than one major race on the speedway’s 1.5-mile tri-oval. He won the then-Busch Series Sam’s Town 300 in 2001 and the NASCAR truck race in 2007.

He logged seven top-five finishes with weaker teams in Sprint Cup events and won 15 times in the Nationwide/Busch series. He has 17 wins and a series championship in 134 truck starts.

Through 19 race this year, he is sixth in points and has won twice in the No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota for Germain Racing.

Not bad for an onion, a sweet one at that.

He is racing’s renaissance man, with hobbies from bobsledding and skiing to golfing and interior design.

All add luster to the stature to the bald-headed man called Onion. He is a shining example of how professional racers should act, and the glow is not a crack about his naked noggin.

Jeff Wolf’s motor sports column is published Friday. He can be reached at jwolf@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0247. Visit Wolf’s motor sports blog at lvrj.com/blogs/heavypedal/ throughout the week.

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