Eric Bowling: July Blog


Hello TIBR community! Man how time flies during the summer months, it seems like just a couple days since I last wrote a column for you all to read. This column I will cover several different things. I will cover the past few weeks of racing and kind of something different that actually is pretty neat. Last month I threw out there that if anyone had some questions or some topics you would like me to cover I would address it in my column. Well to be honest I had quite a few responses to that and some really good questions were asked so I will pick one of those questions each month until the requests stop coming in. So strap in kick back and hopefully you won’t be asleep by the time you get done reading this column.
Last month I left off coming off of a decent weekend at the No Box Nationals in Muncie, Indiana and then the following week taking a win at Lyons Raceway Park which is where my points racing focus has been this season for the most part. Following the win at Lyons, I ventured to Brown County the next day and was also able to take the win their in Pro Class.
After a good weekend of racing my confidence again begins to build. I decide to take the next Friday off with the weather forecast showing a good shot at rain. I decide Saturday to follow the chase for points at Lyons Raceway Park as it is a Double Points and Mulligan race. Coming in trailing by 7 points I’m needing a pretty good showing. Once again as the evening unfolds I find myself on a bit of a roll as I find myself sitting on the bye at round 8 ( yes I said round 8) and at 3 cars. So the finals roll around and I am paired with a car that runs 6.30’s I am sitting on a dial of 7.39. This seems to be where I am struggling a bit this year. Judging cars that are in the 6.30-6.50’s range. I roll up and get tossed into left lane for the first time of the night stage the car let go and said to myself “AH SH@?” I missed it, my stellar .040 light and dead on 1 wasn’t good enough, so we walk away with a runner up finish and a pretty good points night.
This now brings us to the month of July. On the 1st we decided to venture to Speeds Dragstrip to get tuned up and ready for the Firecracker Nationals being held over the weekend at Muncie, Indiana. Well round 1 didn’t fare to well as the other lane was .000 on the tree and dead on with a 7, my .020 and 1 over had no chance. So to the buy back booth we go. After buying back I was able to put a pretty good string of runs together until we ran into the same guy we ran in round 1 in the semis. I had been watching him all evening and he was on a roll and his car was deadly. I rolled in knowing I needed to be good and make no mistakes. Well so much for that idea as my stellar .030 light and dead on 4 wasn’t even close to enough for his .001 dead on 2. The bad thing is the car after the 3rd round had started to develop a bit of a stumble about 30 feet in front of the finish line. I started to make adjustments every round to try to find it but couldn’t seem to figure it out, this started to make me think twice about going to drop $200 at Muncie if the car wasn’t 100%. After making one final run at the end of the race on Friday I decided it would be in my best interest financially not to take the chance to waste $200 for entries but to go test at local race track Brown County Dragway to see if I could get the bugs worked out. So after getting home around 12:30am Saturday Morning I woke up at about 7am to start trying to find the issue. After doing a complete tune up on the car changing the plugs, cap, rotor, and wires on the car I decided to head to the track, by the time I had the car loaded back up and headed to the track it was pushing Noon. I rolled in the gate and told them I just wanted to test and they said if you give us an extra $10 you can get into the race, BUT time trials had just ended and they were getting ready to call cars for the first round of elims. Well I of course said ok. So I rolled in unloaded and put a dial on the car, luckily round 1 the other lane went red and I was able to run the car out to see what it would do, it felt good and the miss was gone. YES! I thought to myself. As I go up for round 2 I just keep thinking to myself as soon as I get done here I’m headed to Muncie for the rest of the weekend. As I rolled in for round 2 staged the car let go it felt great again and then I get about to the mph cones and “BUH BUH BUH” the miss is back, while I was dialed pretty soft I was able to win that round too. I decide that since the miss seemed to start around the mph markers that would be a good place to make “my spot”. So I proceed through the next few rounds dropping at this spot and it works quite well actually, before I know it I’m sitting in the finals. With the low car count of course the purse has been cut but at least it wasn’t all bad news as I was sitting in the finals and was going to walk away with at least more money than I came in with. I was able to win the final and head home for more diagnosis. 
Saturday evening I begin to pull the carb off the car along with the regulator to make sure there wasn’t any debris in it. The carb looks clean as a pin and so does the regulator. I go ahead and rebuild the carb and replace the regulator with a new one and hope this works out, so I decide once again instead of wasting time and money driving 3 hours I go to Brown County Dragway again to do some testing. I once again get there a bit late and am able to make 1 time shot, and yet once again I hear “BUH BUH BUH” right at the MPH markers. At this point I am lost and have no idea what the problem is. So I decide to go ahead and enter the race. The car count was way down so I figured at least I would be able to get home at a decent hour to try something else with the car before Monday morning and head to Muncie for the last day of the weekend whether the car was fixed or not. Before I know it I am sitting in the finals once again, there was only 19 cars going into round 1 and with 1st and 2nd round buybacks it was still a 6 round race, in the final I was able to throw down the best package of the weekend as I was .002 dead on 5 to take the win in Pro Class once again. Back to the house I go to tinker with the car before I have to go to our annual family Fireworks Extravaganza!
After getting up a bit late Monday morning I ask myself is it really worth it to pull 3 hours if the car isn’t 100%? “Of Course it is”. So how many of you have read Luke’s latest column titled “KNUCKLEHEADED MOVES”? I wondered when I seen the title if he was writing a column about me..
I rolled into Muncie Dragway just in time to get a single time shot, I decide what the heck I had won a little bit of money this weekend so lets Double Enter. So let me be clear, I could have rolled into Muncie on Friday and gave them $200 to race all 3 days at a shot at $5000 each day and I roll in on Monday and Drop $200 to race for 1 day. Yes in case you are wondering..I am a genius. I roll in and look at the place and it doesn’t look as crowded as I expected it to be but it was loaded full of hitters..Doug Caplinger, Chris and Keith Walters, Joe Robertson, Danny Black, and some dude named Luke Bogacki, were all there just to name a few. 
So I roll up for my time shot let go and I’m .001 on the tree and the car felt good, so I go up for round 1 in my 1st entry and I’m .019 on the tree to his .030 and I’m dead on 8 and he breaks out, pull back around for my 2nd entry and I’m .016 on the tree and 1 over to take the win. I’m feeling pretty good. Get through both rounds unharmed and get ready for round 2. As I roll up for round 2 I’m paired with a buddy of mine and we of course start talking a little smack, we both stage let go and mine felt decent and his looked good. We get to the stripe I dump and go 1 over to his dead on 4 and he gets the win light, get my ticket and we were both .019 on the tree, so much for that entry, as I roll back around for my 2nd entry the car is a bit hotter so I dial up another number. I draw Eric Paul we roll in to stage I let go and feel the tires shake a bit, we get down to the other end and I look over and see him just fly right by me, he’s .003 dead on 2 to my .023 and 2 over, and that ends my day and weekend at Muncie. So I drive 3 hours spend $200 in entries, and $80 in fuel to be at the track for about 4 hours. I did get to mingle a bit with some buddies and talk with Luke for a bit but man this decision was in fact a “KNUCKLEHEADED MOVE”…
After the not so good showing in Muncie, the next weekend we would remain idle due to an unforeseen medical situation with my wife. Don’t worry all is good.
This brings us to this past weekend where we would venture back to our normal schedule. Speed’s Friday Night and Lyons Saturday and Sunday taking the day off. Friday night we got in a little bit late due to some work related issues, yep that’s right work. I know nobody wants to even think about work so we won’t go into details, anyway we roll in just in time to get a couple shots on the tree and we have just installed a transbrake in the wifey’s car so my father in law decided to bring it out for me to drive as well. So with my heap entered in Pro, we decided just to throw her car into the trophy class to get some passes on it. Well my night was short lived in my rig as I would turn the red bulb on .4999 in round 2. So all I had left was the wife’s car in Trophy Class. I must say it was a good time actually getting to do something a little different, her car is about 3 tenths faster than mine and with the glide in her car it 60’s about like mine does, it did take a little getting use to the “PRO BRAKE” but after a few hits we finally got the hang of it as I reeled of 4 straight reaction times in the 0’s. We went on to bring home the win in Trophy Class and the best part was getting my picture with the Trophy Girl.
After the fun of Friday night its time to get back to business as we roll to Lyons Saturday with a 4 point deficit to try and make up. First round of practice I roll in let go and BANG! I look at the scoreboard and it reads .000. Second round of time shots I try to hit it again to see if I can slack off just a touch and I am .512. After my two time shots I’m feeling pretty good about myself tonight. Round 1 eliminations roll around and guess who pulls up next to me, the current points leader. We finally get pulled to roll into the water box and I just try to remain focused as this could be a big round for me, he is about .5 slower than me so he will be leaving first. We stage and I see a red bulb lit in his lane. Come back get the ticket and I got “lucky” as I was .540 on the tree and he was -.005. As round 2 rolls around I get another tough draw and know I need to be on my game, he is also about .2 slower than me, I decide to throw a couple in my pocket just in case I have a bit of a disadvantage on the tree. I go up 3 numbers. We stage let go and it felt good, as we go down the track I catch him quicker than expected so I waited on him to make a move, seen the front begin to drop so I made my move and my win light flashes. I was .513 to his .512 I go 1 over and he is 4 over. Not sure what happened but we were happy to take the win. Round 3 rolls around and guess who rolls back up against me, yup it’s the current points leader again. This time we decide to put a bit more in our pocket and play spot dropper. I know the car will go a 7.40, and dial 7.45. He is dialed 8.10. As I stage the car and let go once again feels pretty good but not stellar as we get to the MPH marker I am where I’m suppose to be so I hit the brakes go through and take .011 at the stripe. Get the ticket I’m .019 to his .030 and I’m 7.458 to his 8.108. At this point he is eliminated from competition for the rest of the night. The next few rounds roll by and we find ourselves in the finals yet again, for the 4th straight week. The final was a bit bittersweet as the other lane had transmission failure as we launched. I’ll take it anyway I can get it, and I was nice enough to stick around and help him get the car loaded up into his trailer. So another win and taking over the points lead. This was a good weekend. This brings us up to date with my racing season so far.
Now lets talk stats. I figure this is pretty close to midseason and I always take a look at stats throughout the year. So far this season here are some of the stats I keep track of.
Current Average Reaction Time: .522
Current WIN/LOSS Record: 113 Wins and 23 Losses
Current Finals Record: 11-2
I always find it helpful to keep track of these just for a little motivation to improve.
I would now like to take the time to answer one of the questions sent to me by one of my Monthly Column Readers. I’d like to say Hello to Ben Barnett and say thanks for reading and wish you the best of luck in the future!  Here’s what Ben asked:
Hey Eric,
I have read your articles on and athough I don't know you I am becoming a fan.  Your blogs are informative and funny.  Thanks for sharing your "behind the scenes" point of view.  My favorite thing that you have said so far is that you race for profit. 
I live in Georgia and currently help my brother, Ritchie, with his super pro dragster.  This is our first year that we've decided to run for points (NHRA@Atlanta/IHRA@Jackson, SC) and damn its rough out there.  However, we are having a blast!  We are in the process of adding a footbrake/no box car for me to race next year (76 Camaro sbc).  My ego doesn't care about running quick but Return On Investment.  What would you recommend or suggest to a couple of rookies as to how to best improve their chances of winning, and get some money to help keep this crap rollin' on?
Well Ben thanks again for asking the question and I wrote a more in depth answer to Ben via email and here is a brief summary. Of course these are only my opinions!
#1.  SEAT TIME!!  There is no substitute for seat time, the more passes you make the more familiar you become with the car, if you can enter 2 classes then do it, if there is a local test and tune then attend it, you get the picture ..
#2 Consistency is key, going fast dont win bracket races consistency does!!
#3 Practice Tree, this is a must have for me, You have to be able to cut a light on a consistent basis, so not only your car but YOU have to be consistent too.
#4 Equipment, you don't have to have the best of everything (Trust me) but you still need to maintain what you have, once a week look over your race car to make sure nothing looks out of the ordinary
#5  Pay attention in the pits between rounds to watch trends, if other folks are breaking out by a ton odds are you are going to pick up a bit too and vice versa
#6  Become 1 with the car..Familiarize yourself with every aspect of your run, did it shift the same, did it spin, am I going to fast..understand all of this you will eventually be able to answer by mid track once you get familiar with the car.
#7 Take Notes, sound silly?  Seriously you should always have a log book to log your runs to compare to previous runs, and When you get beat odds are it was 1 of 3 things, YOU, THE CAR, YOUR OPPONENT.  How many times have you said well I fell asleep, that would be your fault, The car spun, that would be your cars fault, or I just plain got beat, Your opponent just flat out beat you.
#8 Confidence, you have to be confident in this sport, think to yourself I can do it.
#9 One of my favorites, It doesn't matter who is in the lane next to you.  you are racing you, if you put down a better package than the guy next to you then you are going to win PERIOD,
#10 Finally you need to develop a Routine.  Mine is roll into burn out box blip the tires wet and wait on the other lane to do there burnout, once they have finished I start mine once the burnout is complete I will roll slowly into the prestage beam rev the car twice, take a deep breath and exhale while I'm creeping in to stage. Thats mine, come up with your own and this will help you be more comfortable in the car.  
Hopefully this isn't to windy for you and I hope it helps you guys out.  Good luck on chasing points, A little food for thought on points racing...It doesn't matter what position you are in until the end of the season...
Sorry for rambling on this month. I guess I need to learn how to summarize a little bit better. Maybe next month! Until then as always I’d like to thank Luke and TIBR for this opportunity and all the sponsors for making this happen, and I would also like to thank my sponsors, Mickey Thompson Tires, Ohio Crankshaft, Spy Optics, Skaggs Transmission,, Don Cain, My Wife for letting me be gone every weekend and my baby girl for being daddy’s #1 fan! Thanks again for reading and once again don’t forget if you have any questions please feel free to shoot me an email at, Thanks again to Ben for the question. Good Luck!


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