Ever since joining NMRA Richmond Gear Factory Stock at the last race of the season in 2016, Mike Bowen has been in the spotlight.
There are many reasons for that, including the fact that he drives a Grabber Blue 1971 Maverick, he achieved a thirteenth place finish in points after taking part in one race in 2016 and a third place finish in points in 2017, and he vowed to do even better than that in 2018.
He got off to a good start when he trapped a 10.40 to set the pace in qualifying and made it to the second round of eliminations at the season-opening race in March at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida. He followed that with a 10.50 to qualify in the second spot and secured a semifinal finish at the race in April at Atlanta Dragway, and soared to a 10.35 to qualify in the third spot and made it to the second round of eliminations at the race in May at Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania. He managed a 10.51 in very hot and humid conditions to qualify in the third spot and earned a semifinal finish at the race in June at National Trail Raceway in Ohio.
“Everything has gone pretty smoothly so far this year, but I just really want to get into the final round,” said Bowen, with a laugh. “I don’t even have to win the final round. I just really want to get there.”
Up to the task is his Maverick, which he purchased from a seller in Alabama several years ago and promptly replaced its inline six-cylinder engine with a Coyote engine topped with a stock intake and stock heads. A stock fuel injection system is in place, and while Bowen had been rowing the gears of a Tremec TKO 600 transmission, he’s currently shifting a G-Force Transmissions-built G-101A while the car rolls on AJE front suspension, a bolt-in K-member using Fox body Mustang parts, an 8.8 rear-end with Moser components, leaf springs, CalTracs traction bars and Menscer Motorsports-massaged shocks. Aerospace Components brakes bring the car to a stop.
“I’m the only one in the class with leaf springs, and there was a learning curve at first, but we’ve gotten a hold of it and the leaf spring set-up definitely works,” said Bowen, who lives just outside of Erie, Pennsylvania and also takes part in United Manual Transmission Racers events.
Bowen, who has proven he knows how to get from the starting line to the finish line on Mickey Thompson drag radials, has been testing with Hoosier slicks as of late, and will be taking both types of tires to the 13th Annual Nitto NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing, July 26-29 at Route 66 Raceway in Illinois. There, he hopes to improve upon his current third place standing in NMRA Richmond Gear Factory Stock points, and helping him along the way will be his crew chief, Brett Foutz.