Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A Day at the Drags

Yesterday, my dad and I spent the day at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, Indiana. I thought I would be able to get my thoughts on the race posted once I got home, but I was exhausted and hit the sack the moment I got home last night. Sorry.

This is my dad and I. He is the reason I am an NHRA fan. He has gone to the US Nationals in Indy off and on since the 80's. This was my first NHRA event and, I must say, it lived up to all the hype. 

The very first event for final eliminations was the Top Fuel Dragsters.

They started the day with the loudest and hardest hitting class there. They were not only so loud that hearing protection was required, but also so loud that you could feel it in your chest. On top of that, the smell was unmistakable. The nitro burning classes definitely have a distinctive smell.

After the Top Fuel Dragsters was the Top Fuel Funny Cars.

Just like there bigger brother, the Top Fuel Dragster, the Funny Cars are loud and have the same smell. Both classes burn nitro-methane.

Once the Top Fuel classes where done, it was time for the Pro-mod classes. First up, was the Pro-mod cars.

Then came the Pro-mod motorcycles.

On top of these main classes, there were so many others that I could not get picture and videos of them all.  There were nitro-burning motorcycles, alcohol-burning dragsters and funny cars, factory stock classes, and the junior dragsters.  There were dragsters with small 1 cylinder engines driven by kids as young as 8 years old!

And while all this was going on, every ticket holder could go back into the garage area and watch the teams get the cars torn-down and rebuilt between rounds.

As someone that has gone to multiple NASCAR and IndyCar events each year, I must say that the access that NHRA gives their fans is unmatched in any other motor sport in the US.  Try taking your general admission ticket and get access to the NASCAR or IndyCar garage area.  It won't happen.  You can buy access to the garage area and sometimes you can buy access to the pit lane when there is no activity on the track, but that keeps access limited to the fans that can afford to pay extra on top of the cost of an event ticket.

Personally, I am going to try and get my daughter interested in NHRA.  There is so much more to do and see at an NHRA sanctioned event that I am sure she will have more fun at a drag race than at an oval track race.

That being said, I am definitely going back to the US Nationals in 2019 and will be going more than one day.  There was so much to do at the track that I didn't get to see half of it.

Thank you NHRA for an unforgettable day at the track with my dad.

Guest Post by Joshua Healton

Monday, September 3, 2018

Welcome to Lucas Oil Raceway

Today is my first trip to a live NHRA race. I have watched on TV since I was a small child of 6 or 7 years. I have gone to multiple NASCAR and INDYCAR races over the years but, I must say that today is the most excited I have been before a race in years. Most races I have no problem falling asleep the night before. But last night, the night before the final rounds of the US Nationals, I could not sleep. Now, my father and I are sitting just few dozen yards from the start line at a Mellow Yellow NHRA race. I will do my best to update this post with pictures and my thoughts when I get home from the race tonight. Happy Race Day, everyone!

Guest Post by Joshua Healton

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Alex Bowman's Newest Fans

Lisa Asselin with Alex Bowman
While their driver may not be a rookie, many of Alex Bowman's fans are new to cheering for him. Before subbing for an injured  Dale Earnhardt Jr in 2016, many fans had never heard the name Alex Bowman. Now they wait and wonder, is this kid really as great as Jr believes he is? Can he do what dale couldn't and get Rick Hendrick and Hendrick Motorsports a much deserved championship for the 88 car? A few weeks ago I talked to some of the original Alex Bowman fans, some who had cheered for him as he ripped his way across local and national tracks on his way to NASCAR and others, like myself who noticed him in his rookie year for BK Racing. Now lets meet his newest fans and see what drew them to Alex Bowman.

Jessica Hill, 20, has been a race fan since 2007. She's originally a Kevin Harvick fan, but says she first noticed Bowman "When he filled in for Dale Jr. I root for him as a “backup” when my driver isn’t doing the best at that moment"

"Alex has proven that he has earned a chance to drive the 88. I want his original fans to know
I will NEVER bash Alex online or in any way! He is very good- I like him"

Some of you may remember Jeni Harris from the Helio Castroneves fan story last year. It's been a tragic year for her drivers. First Castroneves moved to sports cars and then Matt Kenseth, her NASCAR driver, lost his ride and retired. I am proud to welcome her to Team Bowman though, as she has been a good Facebook friend to me for a few years now! Harris, who turns 46 next month has been a NASCAR fan since 1989. Though she was originally a Mark Martin fan, she moved on to cheering for Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards when Martin retired.
"I first heard of Alex when he drove for BK Racing. I was really was impressed with him in the 88 in 2016 and how clean he raced Matt at Phoenix in that playoff race."

"Hendrick Motorsports made the right decision choosing Alex and hopefully they give him a shot to win some races this season!"

Do you think you can be as passionate about Alex Bowman as you were Matt Kenseth?

"Yes of course I can and I would love to meet him one day!"

Many of the new Bowman fans were Dale Earnhardt Jr fans, as with our next four fans.

Mary Rogers, 57, has been a fan of Nascar since the late 80s. " Jr was my driver! I have followed Bowman since he drove fo Jr, honestly, ever since Jr. retired I knew I had to make a decision, I have respect for all the drivers, after I seen him drive for Jr. it stuck in my gut and my gut is usually right! Hendrick made the right decision ! Bowman is cool, calm and there is a look in his eyes that tells me he can take Jr's. Place and get some wins! I plan to buy everything I can get my hands on of his I want the original fans to know I don’t bad mouth any drivers but my driver Alex Bowman will get my best words and I will be faithful ! It usually takes a couple of years for the experience they need and I will stand with him thru those years! Truthfully I hope I will grow to love him as a driver like I did Dale Jr. that grows as each season goes by."
Michael Ingersoll, 31, has been a fan of NASCAR since he was 7 "I was a Dale Jr fan and Alex filled in well for Jr when he was injured. I just want his original fans to know I plan to follow him for the rest of his career!"

 "My name is Jody Callaway, I'm 36 and have been following NASCAR since 2005. Dale Earnhardt Jr was my driver before Alex. I first heard of Alex when he was filling in for Jr when he was out with his concussion in 2016. Yes Hendrick made the right decision putting Alex in Jr's place! He did such a great job filling in for Jr, and I do believe hes gonna do a lot of good for Hendrick! I have not met and been able to buy any Alex merchandise yet, but my closet will definitely be full with his shirts very soon!"

Lisa Asselin being interviewed aabout
her tattoos
But of all of Bowman's new fans. one stands out above all the rest. She has been on Kelly Rigg's NASCAR News show talking about her tattoos With 11 tattoos dedicated to JR, it's easy to see why she is one of his, and NASCAR's most loyal fans. Meet Lisa Asselin.

"I am 47 years old. I have been a racing fan ever since I was 5 years old and started watching NASCAR on TV when Jeff Gordon made had his rookie season. When I first started watching NASCAR on TV my favorite driver was Dale Sr cause he reminded me of my local racing hero here in Maine named Homer Drew. He raced here in Maine at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. Homer Drew and Dale Sr had the same attitude and racing styles on the track .I was following Dale Jr also before Dale SR died but when Dale SR died I knew he would want all of us racing fans to keep the sport alive and follow Dale Jr. I first heard of Alex Bowman when Dale JR was not racing because of a head injury. I was impressed with Alex Bowman on his performance taking over for Dale JR while he recovered and when I heard of Dale JR'S retirement I instantly thought Alex Bowman should be Dale JR's replacement driver. he deserves the ride cause of how well he drove when Dale JR was recovering....I just got my first Alex Bowman T-shirt for Christmas and looking forward to this season. I know Alex Bowman will make all of us Dale JR fans proud. I will always be a dedicated Earnhardt Fan but I am now a fan of Alex Bowman in 2018 racing season...GOOOO ALEX....."

With Daytona 8 days away, many of Jr's fans seem lost and heartbroken, but Asselin sums up her feelings best when she said, "I am a huge Dale Jr fan but just because he retired doesn't mean I will stop following NASCAR....A true NASCAR FAN will keep following!"

Old fans or new fans. In the end it doesn't really matter. We are all here because we love NASCAR 
and Alex Bowman! I can't predict what the future has in store for Alex Bowman, but I hope great things await. Bowman has the biggest heart of any driver out there. His true fans know success won't go to his head. Alex will always be Alex and that's the number one reason we cheer for him!

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Alex Bowman's fan base. He has turned many heads and the eyes of NASCAR fans will all be on him when the green flag falls on Daytona February 18th! 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Alex Bowman Fans Are GR88t!

By Chanda Healton

Alex Bowman has won the NASCAR lottery! He has gained many members of Jr Nation as fans since he was chosen to take overs the 88 in 2018. Soon the cars will roar back to life and we will know for sure if Bowman can live up to his dream, There are many new people who will be cheering for him when the green flag drops on the Daytona 500 February 18th, but there are others, myself included who have cheered long before he ever set foot in Hendrick Motorsports. These are the stories of Alex Bowman's original fans and how we found our favorite driver!

We cheered before others knew his name, We cried when we thought his career was in danger right before Daytona 2016 because he had lost his ride, and then we cheered once again when he was a relief driver for Dale Earnhardt Jr, We are the original Alex Bowman fans and we have stood beside him cheering often and cheering loudly, We knew in the early days the talent we saw in our driver. We aren't saying we are better than his new fans, but we are saying "Go Alex" and we are saying it as loudly as we can.

Let me start with my own story.

I'm Chanda Healton, 39, from West Lafayette Indiana. I have religiously followed Nascar since 1994 as a Jeff Burton fan.  I first started following Alex Bowman in 2014. Jeff Burton had retired and I started Daytona driverless, Throughout the race I noticed the 23 car several times, He wasn't the best car but he held his own. I had never heard of Alex Bowman before that race, but by the end of the race, I had a new driver, He was a bit of a funny guy on Twitter and I  loved it!
Writer Chanda Healton and her daughter Savannah
met Alec Bowman in 2015 at Chicagoland Speedway

In 2015, my daughter and I met Bowman through a GoBabyGo clinic at Chicagoland, I spent the day with my favorite race car driver and my daughter built a Road Ripper car to assist with mobility, She has Spina Bifida and uses a wheelchair. Bowman and the GoBabyGo clinic made it possible for her to play and get around in the grass for the first time ever. You can read the full story here

I am very excited for Bowman taking over the 88 car for Dale Earnhardt Jr, Alex is an amazing young man and the most underrated of the Young Guns. I said in 2014 that with the right ride, Alex would be a champion someday and I believe the 88 is the car to make that happen! His sudden popularity is a bit of a shock for me. Alex has always been the underdog. When I first started cheering I had to make an Alex Bowman shirt because you couldn't buy them online or in stores, there weren't any Alex Bowman groups on Facebook either. It was just me and a few other people following him on Twitter. Most NASCAR fans didn't know who Alex Bowman was as this video from hi rookie year shows:

 This week I joined my 7th Facebook group dedicated to Alex! On the other hand, I'm thrilled for his new found popularity and I know it's the same Alex I have always cheered for. He's still the same goofy kid he's always been!

The message I want to send to Alex's new fan is "Welcome! You won't regret your choice to cheer for Alex, He is a very fan friendly and approachable driver who genuinely cares about all his fans, big and little."

Now let's meet some other Original fans and see what they have to say about Alex Bowman and his new found popularity!

Emily met Alex in 2015
"I’m Emily but I’m more known as #1 Alex Bowman fan, I’m from Illinois and I’ve been a NASCAR fan since 2014.  I actually got into NASCAR because of Alex! My dad made me watch the Watkins Glen race in 2014, I was really enjoying it so I decided I would watch it more often. When Alex was interviewed after being involved in that big wreck I decided he’d be my driver. I had googled him and saw a picture of him and Roscoe so that really made me like him, seeing how much he loved his dog.  I met Alex in 2015! He actually knew who I was and told me I was a really dedicated fan. He’s such a nice guy and that day is one of my most memorable. I won’t ever forget it."

About Bowman taking over the 88, Emily says,

"I couldn’t be happier! Alex taking over the 88 is a dream come true, I’ve been hoping something like this would come along for so long now. I can’t think of anything better for Alex, I really feel like this is the perfect fit for him."

How does she feel abut Alex's sudden gain in popularity?

"I think the new fans are a great thing! I hope they see how talented he is and really appreciate him for who he is. I’m just glad that he’s actually getting the popularity he deserves finally"

And that one thing that all fans new and old

need to know? Well Emily says,"He hates being called Bowman the Showman so call him that as much as possible. Also I feel like everyone should know what a nice guy he is, he has always been kind to me and has always been great with fans."

Donald Horn, 48 of Kentucky has followed Nascar since the early 80's he says "I have followed Alex since 2014 when he drove for BK Racing. This young man is a classic example of if you're given good equipment, you can show what you can do. Alex showed this when he subbed for Jr. in 2016, topped off when won the pole at Phoenix. Alex is a hard working individual and I think he is the perfect choice. He wants to put the 88 back in victory lane.  I love his mindset. He is definitely a team player. I think that Alex is the best choice for the 88! Yes, it will be sad that Jr. will not be out there, but the 88 is in very comparable hands with Alex behind the wheel.  I have never met Alex Bowman, but would love to."

And the new Jr fans? Horn says, "I believe that the fans saw that Alex was stepping in to do a job. They know that Alex was not trying to replace Jr., but help the process of Jr.'s recovery. I, among many of the fans, can see the potential in Alex." these new fans should also know "That he is a hard worker. That he strives for consistency and whatever it takes to run up front. I believe that Alex will win races and be a contender for the championship on a regular basis."

Next is Janice W from Braintree, MA. She has been a fan of Nascar for 27 years and says it's because of her son, Justin, that she became a Bowman fan. " He's a great kid with a lot of talent"

Janice and her sn Justin with Alex Bowman

I became a fan pf Alex's in 2013.My son loves to watch the young talent and Alex was top of the list. We have met his several times. He is always very personable and willing to stop and take pics and/or sign autographs! Im super Excited. He so deserves a good ride! I know many of the Jr fans are going with Chase olliott as a favorite, but In staying with the 88! GO ALEX!"

And the one thing fans should know?

"Alex isn't a rookie! He's put in time with several under-funded teams and when he lost his ride he took the high road and became a testing driver for Hendrick."

Our last fan is Arlie Prokop, 60, "Actually, I'm related to him (his father Sean married my second cousin Lisa Bergonz). I learned about Alex's prowess at lower racing levels from Lisa's mom. Been watching his races from Nebraska on TV since 2013 (the first year they were shown on a TV station carried by our cable provider). Saw Alex race live for the first time in 2016 at Iowa. Planning to see him at Kansas this coming season."

Alex with Daymond John of "Shark Tank
How long have you been an Alex Bowman fan. What first drew you to notice him? 
 In 2011 my cousin Barbara phoned my family, very excited that Alex's parents were moving with him temporarily to North Carolina to get him started in full-time racing.  He was only 18, so everyone was a bit apprehensive about how things would go.  I asked her how to keep tabs on Alex's career.  She said that he was on Twitter and that I should follow him.  At that time I barely knew what Twitter was, so he was the very first person I followed.  In 2012, Barbara's son Dave Bergonz emailed everyone in our family (the Prokop clan), soliciting sponsorships for Alex so he could race in the Nationwide series the next year.  I don't know if that actually led to sponsorship support, but he did race Nationwide in 2013.  Mom and I watched all of his races beginning that year (the first year they were shown on a TV station carried by our cable provider).

Been a fan since 2012 (the first year I was able to follow his races on a regular basis, via articles online).  Noticed him as a professional driver via my cousin Barbara Bergonz (mother of Alex's mom, Lisa Bergonz Bowman).  The first time I recall Barbara mentioning his racing experiences was in 2010, when he broke his collarbone and injured a rib in a USAC midget crash.  She asked my family for thoughts and prayers for his recovery.

‎If you have ever met Alex, please tell us about your experience meeting him.  
Saw Alex at the Iowa Speedway for his race there in June 2016.  Our party (my brother and his 2 sons, my cousin Dave Bergonz and a frieind of his from the Denver area) and I met him at the track's infield.  Alex came out of the drivers' meeting and was in a hurry to get to the garage, so he didn't have much time to visit, but he was kind enough to give my brother and me autographs.

The most Alex Bowman like photo known to man!
Taken in 1998 at the age of 5
 and sent to me by Arlie  Prokop. 
Alex still loves dogs and cars!
‎How do you feel about Alex taking over the 88 car? 
 I'm still pinching myself that it actually happened - almost too good to be true!  It won't fully hit me until I see him in the car at Daytona.

 ‎How do you feel about Alex's sudden popularity among JR fans?  
It's not really a
 surprise, since JR's fans are so loyal and most tend to follow his lead.  Hope they stay on board when Alex encounters adversity, as I'm sure he will from time to time.

What do you think new fans should know about Alex Bowman?  
He is NOT a rookie in the Cup series!  He just hasn't been in the spotlight as as a full-time driver at that level before.

Alex Bowman has come a long way from the wise cracking boy from 2014 and I am proud to have stood by him through everything. With only 32 days until the Daytona 500, I must admit I am very excited to have my favorite driver back on track and in the 88 car.   Next week I will tell the tale of Alex Bowman's new fans. If you would like to take part in it please email me at Fastlaneracingnews@gmail.com. Also look for Fast Lane Race News on Twitter and don't forget to like us on Facebook for all your racing news! Also check out our new Alex Bowman group on Facebook: Alex Bowman: Making The 88 Gr88t!

See you at the racetrack in 2018!