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77 Year old racer wins his first Wally!

While the spectacle of 11,000 horsepower, flame belching, nitro burning monsters will always be what draws the crowds to NHRA National Events, there are hundreds of sportsman racers on the property at each stop on the tour working just as hard to take home a Wally as well.

Sportsman racing is the foundation that keeps the sport alive and thriving week to week, and these racers often work – many of them more than one job – just to support their racing venture. Many of the elite sportsman racers may have sponsors who help fund their operation, but the majority of these guys do it on their own dime with help coming in the form of buddies lending a hand in their free time just because they want to help out a friend chasing a dream.

In the sportsman pits, you’ll find competitors grilling out with one another, loaning tools and parts and even helping the guy they may have to face in the next round swap engines between rounds, because that’s just how things work. These guys are fierce competitors on the track, but in the pits, they’re as close as any family you’ll ever find.

Seventy-seven year old Ken Bowers perfectly embodies the sportsman racer, campaigning his 1957 Corvette Roadster out of Islip, NY at the New England Nationals in Epping, NH. Bowers parlayed a stellar .007 reaction time and a 9.919 elapsed time on the 9.90 Super Gas class index to take home his first ever win at a national event. Bowers’ .026 package was enough to deny first-time finalist Justin Lopes in a great side-by-side drag race.

Sit back and listen as NHRA announcer extraordinaire Brian Lohnes calls the race from the tower as Bowers finally locks up that which so many racers seek for a lifetime and never capture: a national event Wally!