With a grandfather and father who are remarkable and renowned racers, it wasn’t a surprise when Cameron Bowles decided that he, too, wanted to race.
With invaluable input from his grandfather, Don Bowles, who was most recently in the spotlight in NMCA FST Carburetors NA 10.5, and his father, Donnie Bowles, who is in the spotlight in NMCA MagnaFuel Open Comp and NMRA Exedy Racing Clutches Modular Muscle, Cameron got his feet wet behind the wheel of his 2010 Raptor, his 2017 Super Duty and his grandfather’s 2015 F-150 in the series’ Brackets, True Street and Truck and Lightning categories several years ago.
Then, he climbed into the driver’s seat of his grandfather’s popular Maverick nicknamed “Little Coal Digger VII” and set a course for NMCA MagnaFuel Open Comp and NMRA ARP Open Comp in 2016.
“The first time I ran the car, it was to get my NHRA license, and it was quite an experience,” said Cameron. “There was nothing like letting go of the button. It was pure adrenaline.”
In the car featuring a 358 cubic-inch small-block Ford built by Roush and freshened by Phillip Oakley and a Turbo 400, Cameron clocked 9.80s from the get-go, even though his father, Donnie, and mother, Vicki, had hoped he would start out with something closer to 11.50s.
“My grandfather thought that elapsed-time was just fine, and I told him he’d have to talk to my parents about that,” said Cameron, with a laugh.
Whether Don did or not, we may never know, but what we do know is that Cameron has been cool, calm and collected while cruising to consistent 9s, has gone as quick as 8.89 and has already seen success in the 2019 race season.
He went a few rounds in ARP Open Comp at the 25th Annual Nitto NMRA Spring Break Shootout in March at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida, and a week later, he earned his first trip to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle with a 9.02 in MagnaFuel Open Comp at the 17th Annual NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem, also at Bradenton Motorsports Park.
In the process, however, he spotted some smoke coming from his engine, and upon returning home after the event, he pulled it out of the engine bay and sent it to Phillip Oakley to be inspected.
“A pushrod had rubbed a hole through the head and was burning oil, but Phillip got it fixed up and we got it on the dyno,” said Cameron.
With no time to spare after that, he headed to the 11th Annual Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals presented by MAHLE Motorsport in April at Atlanta Dragway, where he led qualifying with a .004 in MagnaFuel Open Comp and later earned a runner-up finish with a 9.22.
“That was my first-ever win and runner-up in the series, as I had previously only made it to the quarter-final,” said Cameron, who’s supported at events by his friend, Kyler Day, as well as his father’s crew and his father’s teammate Susan Roush McClenaghan’s crew. “My adrenaline was pumping because I was so excited, and I just had to take a deep breath. Now, I just want to keep it going and do better and better in points each year, and I just want to have fun along the way.”
Cameron, who’s currently leading NMCA MagnaFuel Open Comp points, is now heading for the Inaugural Comp Cams NMCA Memphis Homecoming, May 2-5 at Memphis International Raceway in Tennessee.