Eric Bowling: October Blog

 

 

Hello again TIBR community! Well this is it, the final column of the season. I hope you all have enjoyed my columns as much as I have enjoyed living them. It has been one heck of a ride this season and I’m grateful that I got to share it with all of you, and for those of you that followed my columns thanks a lot, just don’t forget to vote when the time comes! Hopefully you enjoyed it and maybe even learned some stuff along the way. I figure I must be doing something right as I noticed the other columnists made references to me throughout the season in their columns, LOL. I just want to say thanks to Luke and all the big sponsors that stepped up to the plate to help a guy like me get my name out there. It really is a great thing you and TIBR have done to help the little guy and I would like to personally thank you for that! 

Ok so now that I have my sucking up done let’s get down to business. What a ride the Past 4 weeks have been. This month I will be talking about the great night I had at Speed’s New Hope Dragstrip that Luke spoke about in the Forum along with a couple wins and the debut of my new ride. So get ready for some good ole fashioned self promotion..
Fresh off of the long weekend at the Division 3 Bracket Finals we were set for another weekend of racing, but Mother Nature would only allow it one day which would be on Sunday. On Sunday we decided to venture down to Brown County Dragway to get some more runs on the new gear. While finding out during the week that the 12 bolt rear end in the Camaro had some curvature now to it I wasn’t sure how long it would last. Don and I threw a tape and level on the tube and found a pretty good bend in both axle tubes and the housing was in pretty bad shape as well. With it being this late in the year we decided to add some bracing to the rear and some welding to the housing we would give it a shot at making it to the end of the season. As the day rolled on and a less than stellar car count I found myself sitting on the bye to the finals. In the final I draw a buddy of mine Anthony Deckard and it would be the best race of the day. I am dialed a 7.27 and he is dialed a 6.54. As we roll up and stage I accidentally rolled in a bit deep and knew I was going to have to let go just a touch late. The tree drops and I let go, it felt good and down the track we go. As we approach the stripe I stay in the throttle and see him drop take a glance and we get the win. I was .002 to his .008 I’m dead on 4 and he is dead on 5. Good race and even better getting the win. I get another win under my belt and off to Speed’s the next week for their Big Bucks Extravaganza.
Friday night as I leave work early to head out to Speed’s Dragstrip for their Big Bucks Race I get home to load the car and wouldn’t you know it as I get the car on the trailer the rear drivers side wheel cylinder blows out. I head on to the track as Don was already there with my wife Amy’s car I knew we would get something figured out. When I roll in the gates we decide we don’t have time to change the cylinder in time, so we decide to cut the line and pinch it off along with zip tying a pair of vice grips onto the line. After bleeding the breaks out we are good to go. This race was by far the best bang for your buck race of the season as $50 gets you a shot at $2000 in the No Box Category and $30 gets you a shot at $1000 in the Footbrake/Sportsman Category. I would be entering my Camaro in the No Box Class and the Wifey’s car in the Footbrake race which had a 7.50 time break. I had ran her car the week before for testing and it was going 7.0’s so this would mean I would have to kill nearly 5 tenths. As the night started in the No Box Category I would be Double Entered in the Camaro, round 1 of competition I would be shown to the buyback booth as I decided to take a nap on the starting line with my first entry. My second entry went better as the other lane went red on me. Round 1 of the Sportsman class would roll around and I had done everything I could to slow the Firebird down, I had been short shifting it and placed 4 floor mats under the gas pedal hoping to slow it down enough. In the first round I again would get lucky and have the other lane go red against me and I was able to run the car out as it would go 7.42 all out. I figure that is close enough and I can drive it the rest of the way. As we begin going rounds I find myself still doubled in Sportsman and No Box sitting at 8 cars in each class. I would lose one of my entries in the No Box Category the next round and making it through in the other entry into the semis we go in the No Box Category. Sportsman class I would win both entries seeing myself with 2 entries left and only 3 cars remaining. In the semis of the Pro Category I would draw David Wallen who was killing the tree as it seemed like we heard the announcer say “Wallen with a .5-0 light” all night long. We staged up down the track we went we would both be .520 on the tree as I would go dead on 0 to him breaking out .001, what a race. In the other semi Mike Smith would take out Wallen’s second entry to pair him up with me in the Final of the No Box Class. In Sportsman in the semi I would break out by .002 to lose my first of 2 entries. This would pair me up in the final with Austin Tewell. In the final I would get a slight starting line advantage to hold him off for the win! In the No Box Category Mike and I say our good lucks and talk some financials and off we go. I would be .018 on the tree to his .035 rip the throttle a couple times and my win light flashes on!! WOO HOO!! With over 110 entries we came out on top twice. WOW, What a great night!!
                                       (Amy and I in the Winners Circle with her car)
 
After the great night at Speed’s off to Lyon’s we go. The night would be short lived as we would get loaded up 3rd round of competition. Sunday would roll around and I decided to take the day off.
The next week on Saturday would be the weekend of the Lyons Raceway Park racer appreciation race. Free entry for $2000 to win. With close to 300 total entries it was going to make for a long night (hopefully). I find myself loading my car back onto the trailer after getting beat with only 5 cars remaining due to a .001 break out loss. Sunday we would head to Brown County for another early exit due to a early afternoon nap on the starting line. The next week would bring us to the Annual Brown County Dragway Fall Invitational. 
This would be the weekend we would be able to debut the Blazer my father in law and I have been working on to get ready before the season was over. Well we were able to debut it on Friday Night as they were offering up a 7.50 index race on a .500 Pro tree. Not knowing what this thing would do we decide to go on down and at least get some shots in and make the debut of what we have decided to have fun with and calling the “ATM”.
As we unloaded on Friday we were able to make a couple time shots with the “ATM” and I was pleasantly surprised at how straight and great this thing worked. We decided to go ahead and enter the 7.50 index race as the truck was running 7.30’s we would just wheel it and try to kill the 2 tenths. As the night ended the “ATM” would make its debut with great success as we would take the win in the Index race. First time out with a brand new rig, you can’t beat that! Saturday would bring the $1000 to win Pro Race and I decided to enter the Camaro and Wheel the “ATM” both in the same class. Not a bad showing as I would give the stripe back at 4 cars in the Camaro and Break out .004 at 8 cars with the “ATM”. On Sunday I would do the same as the day started I took the Camaro out for the first pass and on the way back down the return road heard an oh so familiar sound, it sounded as if I had broken a tooth off of the ring gear once again so I decided to load the Camaro and Retire it for the season and doubled the Blazer. Not a very good showing for me as I would get ousted in one entry in round 3 and round 4 in the other. All in all I’m very pleased with the “ATM” as I will be taking it to Muncie next weekend for their Annual Bonfire Naitonals.
As I wake up at 5am yesterday morning to head to Muncie the frost on my windshield is about an 1/8th inch thick, a blustery 33 degrees. I headed to a buddy’s house Kenny Bryant who said he wanted to go watch and offered to pull the “ATM” to the track. We arrived at the track at around 9:30am and only getting 1 time shot I figured it would be tough to get into a groove early. As I went up to the lanes for the 1 and only time shot the “ATM” and I got some pretty unwelcoming looks. Maybe the $100 bills were a little much….NAH!! Anyway as I dive in to stage and try out the new button and electric shifter we installed the night before I was ready to go. Stage up let go look up score board flashes .010, get to the end it flashes 7.191 @ 95mph. I was pretty surprised that it ran that good but it was a good surprise, as we headed back to my pits now all I had to do was wait for them to call us up for first round of eliminations. That seemed like an eternity. First time shot was taken at 10am and didn’t get called up for Eliminations until 3pm, this was a very long drawn out event to say the least, but I was in good company as I was pitted with the Walters Boys, Danny Black, and Davey Neal plus being alongside Kenny Bryant the time waiting didn’t seem so bad as we all sat around talking about how good we weren’t. Finally the call would come out for the 1st round, since I was doubled I decided to go up quickly so I would have time to get the temps down on the Blazer. My first round rolled around and Chris came up to give me a little insight on my competitor so I threw some in my pocket to see what would happen. Sure enough Chris was right as the dude dropped me off about the MPH marker I flew by ripped it twice to a 7.218 on a 21 dial, headed for entry #2. I would somehow get paired with Davey Neal which was pitted with us. So I roll up let go not so good on the tree with a .028 but it is good enough to take the win. Survived round 1 with both entries so now we wait. Round 2 rolls around same deal I go up first get paired with a 6.50’s Camaro I dial a 7.21 let go I’m .013 to his .039 I go dead on 7 for the win. I roll back up for the 2nd entry and start my burnout the truck shifts into second gear and it revs up and starts bouncing off of the rev limiter. No second gear!! Great! I roll up to stage hoping maybe for a red bulb, I let go I’m .007 on the tree to my opponents .124 light get to midtrack truck shifts beats off the limiter again I lift go through the traps 8.440 at 59 MPH, my day is done…Or is it? As I pull into the pits I aim for the trailer and ramps we pull it up to see if its something stupid that can be fixed easily..surprise surprise, we find nothing. So I go to tell the guys what happened and that I’m done, Chris and Keith Walters, along with Kenny talk me out of it and tell me that I’m already invested I may as well stage it up and see what happens. We looked closely at the ticket and decide to just “spot drop” as soon as it shifts and coast through the traps and see what happens. So I decided to go up with my last entry and wounded “ATM” and wait to display the dial until I begin to roll into the burnout box. Luckily I draw a 10.40’s truck but I see this guy just about at every big bucks event I go to, Not sure of his name but he drives a White Chevy Colorado. So I knew I would still have to be decent on the tree to have a shot. I roll into the burnout box, display my dial of 8.50 and head to stage. I let go and it felt good as I’m gaining quickly on the truck the blazer shifts and I lift and start coasting watching my opponent I could tell he was a bit confused, and to be honest with you I was confused too. I get to the end right before the finish line and lock up the front brakes, look up at the score board I get the win light and I go dead on with a 2. I get my ticket and I was .003 on the tree dead on 2, that my friend is a 5 thou package. What luck! On to the next round we go, with only 20 cars remaining I’m sitting on the bye, and not sure who I would have to run until Doug Caplinger rolls back up to the end of the line. So its me and Caplinger. I decide to put an 8.48 on it and hope for the best. Stage up let go and I knew I crushed it, blazer shifts and I lift. Look back, look back, he comes into view but see I’m way ahead, he starts pedaling, I chaulk the brakes and DAMN IT, 8.468 on a 8.48. He’s 2 over I get the ticket, he’s .007 to my .001 I take .050 sliding through the traps. Oh well it was fun while it lasted! But the “ATM” folks is gonna be fun next year as it was on rails even without 2nd gear.
That concludes my racing adventures over the past few weeks. 
So since this is the last column I will be writing for TIBR I guess we can consider this the end of the season so a few columns back I had listed some of my stats. I figure I should update my statistics for you since some of the voting is based on overall performance and on track success.
Round Win/Loss Record: 403 total Elimination Rounds                                                    357 Wins 46 losses = 89% Kill Rating
Final Round Win/Loss Record: 23 total final round appearances                                  20 Wins 3 Losses = 87% Kill Rating                                                                                                              
Average Reaction Time in Eliminations: .523 in 403 total rounds of competition
With all the rain here in the Midwest this season I wasn’t able to put nearly as many passes on the Camaro but almost matched last season final round appearances. With a couple weeks of racing left hopefully I will reach last years totals but if I don’t I feel its pretty respectable, But could be better. 
I had also in past columns mentioned answering questions that I received via email, I apologize I didn’t get to that portion as much in my columns but this being my last column I have chosen a question that was actually asked to me by a gentleman named Jeff Rink. Jeff emailed me a couple weeks back and I told him I would give him a shout out, So here’s my shout out..What’s up Jeff Rink!! Jeff’s email read as follows:
Hey Eric-
What do you feel your 2 biggest on track tools are? You have had a great year and wish you continued success. Also when the member spotlight is over will you be writing columns or blogs anywhere else online for us to follow your racing stories for next season? Thanks a lot, and Good Luck!
Jeff Rink
Well Jeff first I’d like to say sorry for taking so long to get your question answered but it has been pretty hectic the past few weeks. This is a great question but it will be kind of hard for me to answer completely. I would say the first on track tool I use isn’t really and on track tool, funny how it works but I have always had the ability to get into people’s heads, I’m not sure how I do it to be honest but I get accused of cheating a lot at a couple tracks in particular. I was accused last year of having a Matty Box in my Camaro. There was such a mess over it the track operator held a drivers meeting and said that if anyone has a problem that they needed to pay a tear down fee and they would check it out. Well for me that was just a window of opportunity to do something to make them question me even more this season
 

(Guess how many times I’ve been asked what these are for)
So yes I do like to fuel the fire a bit when accusations start, but it does get old after a while. I’ve been accused of everything from Shift Lite track locators to Planetary Syncronizers (whatever that is) , and last weekend when I raced my new Blazer and the Camaro in the same class it just so happened both vehicles were dialed the same (7.33) all day long so I got accused of having timers in the cars to make them run the same. I feed off of it and quite honestly it motivates me, so to answer your question Jeff the 1st tool I feel helps me is the “Mind Games” Tool. Tool #2, I like to think that I’m not very predictable during eliminations, and my ability to get rid of numbers at different points during a run, helps with that, don’t get me wrong I have given many races back by playing finish line games and holding to many numbers but I promise you I have won more than I have lost since I began actually Driving and not just racing to the finish line. Hope that makes sense. And to answer your last question about will I be writing columns anywhere else online. Well if Luke asks me to then I will write more here on TIBR and if he don’t and I get more requests to do so then I will find somewhere to do so. Thank for your interest Jeff and thanks for the question.
Well folks that brings me to a close with my racing adventures for the past 6 months. Sorry to be so long winded again but hey, this is my last hurrah! I hope you enjoyed reading this column as much as I had living it!
Before I end my column this month I would like to say I was extremely saddened when I heard the news about Dan Wheldon. It kind of puts things into perspective about the dangers involved in all motorsports. Thoughts and Prayers to the Wheldon family.
In closing as always I’d like to thank my marketing partners and Luke and all the great sponsors for letting this whole thing happen, also would like to thank all the other columnists for the shout outs in their columns! Thanks to Mickey Thompson Tires, Ohio Crankshaft, Spy Optics, Skaggs Transmission, Prestolite Performance, RaceonE85.com, Don Cain, My wife Amy, and Daddy’s #1 Fan Bella. Thank you all without you none of this would be possible!! 
Have a great offseason, and don’t forget to VOTE!! 
Thank You for Reading!
-Eric Bowling
 

 

OCTOBER COLUMN,
THE LAST HURRAH!!

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