Not even John Force can boast a three-year run as impressive as K&N drag racer Eric Bowling. The bracket racer form Bloomington, Indiana, who combined to win more then 40 races over the last two seasons, switched cars this year and, believe it or not, has only gotten better. And guess what? Like Force, Bowling has a few protégés in the pipelines now.
My father-in-law did a fantastic job on this thing. I couldn't ask for better.
Bowling decided to park his beloved 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 after last season and go with a far more unconventional ride, a bright green Chevrolet Blazer SUV. But while the Blazer might now intimidate like the Camaro did in the burnout box, it sure handles itself on the strip.
"All I can say is wow," Bowling told K&N. "My father-in-law did a fantastic job on this thing. I couldn't ask for better. The 60-foot times only move maybe two- to four-thousandths (of a second) on a race day and that's what you have to have to be competitive. The whole weekend at the No Box Nationals that thing only moved 9-thousandths (of a second). The only bad part about it is the Blazer is so consistent that now, when I lose, I have nothing to blame but myself."
The Ohio Crankshaft No Box Nationals happened two weeks ago, and Bowling bowled over the competition. He won the $1,600 shootout on Saturday and followed that up with a win in the $5,000 tournament on Fathers Day. It was an emotional moment for Bowling, whose father introduced him to the sport at a young age and passed away in 1995.
It was an emotional moment for Bowling, whose father introduced him to the sport at a young age and passed away in 1995.
"To win on Fathers Day make's the win probably the most memorable of my career. I lost my dad in 1995 and I know he was looking over me; I called my wife when I got back to the pits and all I could say was 'It's Fathers Day.' It was a great day."
Bowling's wife Amy would normally be at the track celebrating, but she was just days herself from making Bowling a father for the second time. Last Tuesday, Bowling and his wife welcomed their first son, Isaac, into the family. Both the baby and mother are doing great, and Bowling's four-year-old daughter, Isabella, is already looking forward to teaching her little brother all about the Christmas Tree, and not the one that Santa Claus puts presents under every December.
"One thing is for sure," Bowling said. "Baby Isaac will be in a junior dragster one day. But his sister gets to go first. She absolutely loves racing and has whipped me on the tree a few times already."
With all the commotion in the house, Bowling isn't sure what his schedule will include this summer, but he has his eye on a few events, including the World Footbrake Challenge in Bristol, Tennessee. Bowling has never been to the event, but he thinks the new ride could be victorious at it.
Bowling is still working out some kinks in the Blazer. He said he struggles with finding his spot on the tree still, and that he finds himself "anticipating the bulb instead of reacting to it" still. The other issue is 'driving the stripe,' a term that refers to bracket racers trying to squeeze every second out of their dial-ins at the finish line.
To win on Fathers Day make's the win probably the most memorable of my career.
"In the Camaro, the nose was so long and I have driven it since 1998, that sometimes I find myself driving the stripe like I'm still driving the Camaro. In the Blazer I sit right on top of the front tires, so I've definitely given up a bunch at the stripe this season. Again, I'll get the hang of it, it's just a matter of not so caught up in the round."
Bowling has found success at other major bracket events this year to pair with his No Box Nationals win. Bowling was victorious at the Bernie Mann Memorial Race in Terre Haute, Indiana, and the next day he took two entries to the finals, claiming both first and second at the Brown County Dragway No Box/Box Combo, sweeping the month of May at the track and winning his sixth straight No Box event at the track.
In his first year with K&N Filters, Bowling said he already notices a difference. "In the years past, I didn't even run any air filters. I must say, Ryan Fellman at K&N has gone above and beyond to make sure I get the right product to help my racecar. I began running the air filter at the beginning of the season and I must say, it makes the Blazer so much more consistent.
"I wanted to see just how much of a difference it made so I ran without (the filter) for a couple of passes in time trials and it didn't perform as well as it did with it. The remarkable thing is, the Blazer didn't lose any ET with it on. It also keeps the carburetor good and clean. I can't thank K&N and Ryan enough for their support and I hope this is the beginning of a great friendship and business relationship."
Bowling also wanted to thank his family, including his wife, children, and his father-in-law, Don Cain, who built the Blazer, and his mother Lou. He also thanked his sponsors and supporters, including Mickey Thompson Tires, Ohio Crankshaft, Cometic Gasket, Spy Optic, Skaggs Transmission, and R&S Lawncare.
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