Going from three Gs (gravity) from a standstill to negative three Gs five seconds later and then "hitting a brick wall" when he hits the parachute button is a "piece of cake" for Bruce Bowler.
Bowler, who is racing a Federal Mogul Dragster at a NHRA Federal Mogul Drag Racing Series West Central Divisional at the Colonel's Brainerd International Raceway this weekend, thinks drag racing is easier than when he was the NHRA Northwest Division director.
"(Drag racing) is the side where the excitement is," the 59-year-old said. "The other side is where all the responsibility and the worry is. Here we have one job and that's to get down to the other end of the track before someone else does."
Bowler, who qualified No. 1 for the event in the first round of qualifying on Friday, begin drag racing in the late 1950s. In the next 40 years, he would also operate a drag strip in Denver and become the owner of a mortgage company with more than 100 employees.
He started racing dragsters part-time in 1995. In 1998, he started racing full-time. That summer also was when he retired from his company after 40 years.
Bowler said his son, who owned an automotive shop, sold it and became his crew chief.
"And here we are, this is what we do," Bowler said.
Bowler also collected his first-ever win at the division opener in Topeka last month.
It would be safe to say that Bowler started out slow in this class but he has shown major improvement. In 1998 he went better than 200 mph only twice. A year later he went over that peak 23 times and this year he has surpassed that speed 30 times.
Bowler set his best career elapsed time, 5.33 seconds, and speed, 266 mph, at the 16th annual Checker Schucks Kragen NHRA Nationals in Phoenix in February.
"It's been fun to watch the progress," he said.
Bowler's past performances have also caused him to become superstitious. He waits a while before he unwraps the parachutes from his rocket's wing after a successful run.
He said this is because he can remember watching other racers coming back in the pits with the chutes wrapped around their dragster's wings after they didn't make it down the track.
When he won at Topeka, he convinced the NHRA photographer to take his racer's photo with the parachutes still wrapped around its wing. This was unheard of, he said.
This sight could be commonplace this season, considering Bowler will race in every West Central Division event except the next one at Bandimere Speedway in Denver.
He said the reason is that his A-fuel dragster, which is somewhat rare in the series, runs better at lower altitudes. An A-fuel dragster burns nitro-methane and is fuel injected. An alcohol dragster, or blown dragster, burns alcohol and has a supercharger.
Bowler's racer did perform well at Bandimere Speedway in Denver three weeks ago, setting the event's low ET (1/500th of a second off track the record) but Bowler still does not like racing in high altitudes.
Since the car is not supercharged the thin air is harder on its engine.
"So it has to have air to be able to breath like you and I," he said.
Bowler has data to prove this. At Denver, he clicked off a 5.79 ET at 246 mph, but at Phoenix he had a 5.33 ET at 266 mph.
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