Since teaming up with Michael Bartone, Shawn Bowen has done just about everything but win a race in Bartone’s Camaro Nostalgia Funny Car. The longtime standout hopes that changes at this weekend’s 16th annual Holley National Hot Rod Reunion presented by AAA Insurance at Beech Bend Raceway Park.
Driving for Bartone, Bowen has posted two runner-up finishes in 2018 and hopes he is closing in on his first Nostalgia Funny Car win since joining forces with Bartone a season ago. To do it at the Holley National Hot Rod Reunion presented by AAA Insurance would make for a memorable first victory, especially with his family alongside at the famed event.
“This is a really cool race and we definitely want to put on a show,” Bowen said. “This would be a really big win, one of the biggest we’ve had if we could do it. There’s a lot of fans at this race and to win in front of them and get a win for Michael would be cool. The key is just to make the car run a little quicker. Hopefully I can continue to drive well and just find that little edge we’re missing. But we’re getting really close.”
The Bowen family, starting with Shawn’s father, Mike, had significant success in NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster before eventually finding their way onto the nostalgia scene. Shawn Bowen debuted in Nostalgia Funny Car a decade ago, building up a strong track record in the process when Bartone, who has excelled in driver and owner in the alcohol and nostalgia ranks, asked Bowen to drive his Camaro a year ago.
It was an easy decision for Bowen, who has thrived driving for Bartone while also having his father and brother at his disposal. Combined, it has become the ultimate mix of fun and hard work, and Bowen believes that recipe for success will soon translate into wins.
“This has been a dream come true, to be honest with you,” Bowen said. “We all have the same goal, we all want to win and we have a lot of fun, so it’s been great. Michael and my dad have hit it off and he loves my brother, Scott. It’s one of the best times we’ve had racing. We all take it seriously, but we don’t get mad or upset with each other. We just try to get better and I think that’s what makes it fun. I don’t think we could ask for much more, except for a few wins, but that will come pretty soon, I believe.”
Bartone debuted the new Camaro Nostalgia Funny Car a year ago, but things seem to be rounding into form with Bowen behind the wheel. He was the runner-up to Jeff Arend in Boise, and lost in the final round to points leader Bobby Cottrell in Salt Lake, but Bowen knows he has a team capable of winning. Celebrating in the winner’s circle at the Holley National Hot Rod Reunion presented by AAA Insurance would be the perfect way to keep the momentum going.
“It’s just about making a couple changes and I think we’re going to go really fast,” Bowen said. “We’re picking away at it and we’re really close, but it’s also really important to me to do this with my family. My whole career, I’ve done it with my dad and brother and I would be lost without them. For Michael, who is a well-known name in drag racing, to have that trust in us means a lot.”
The Holley National Hot Rod Reunion presented by AAA Insurance is a memorable three-day gathering catered car culture lovers. The fan-favorite event features quarter-mile nostalgia nitro drag racing, cars of numerous makes and models on display, a sprawling vendor area, and the famous Cacklefest that concludes the event.
On the track, Nostalgia Top Fuel and Funny Cars will put on another intense and entertaining show with the smell of nitro filling the air. Coming to the Holley National Hot Rod Reunion presented by AAA Insurance and Beech Bend Raceway Park for the first time is the 6.0 racing category and exhibition class. This open class features front-engine dragsters, center-steer altered and ’65 to ’79 Funny Cars, offering more exciting injected and blown nitro racing.
The grounds of Beech Bend Raceway Park will also come to life with thousands of classic vehicles during the Axalta Show & Shine beginning June 14, as hot rods, street rods and customs make their way into the scenic grounds of Beech Bend Raceway Park.
This weekend celebrates those who have dedicated their lives to the sport as well, with a number of honorees for the 16th anniversary of the event. The Grand Marshal for 2018 will be Larry Lombardo, the 1976 NHRA Pro Stock world champion. The weekend concludes in exciting fashion with the famous Cacklefest taking place in front of a packed grandstand. With dozens of classic nitro-burning Top Fuel and Funny Cars roaring to life and flames filling the summer sky, it makes for a highly-dramatic and entertaining closing ceremony.
Tickets for the 16th annual Holley National Hot Rod Reunion presented by AAA Insurance are on sale now to the general public. Children 15 and under are free with a paid adult. AAA members can save even more on this event by entering their first three digits of their membership card at checkout. Tickets can be purchased at www.NHRA.com/HotRodReunion.
The Hot Rod Reunions are produced by the NHRA Motorsports Museum and benefit the facility located in Pomona, Calif. The NHRA Motorsports Museum is a 501c (3) non-profit institution. The Museum’s mission is to celebrate the impact of motorsports on American culture. The Museum collects, preserves, exhibits and interprets the vehicles, stories and artifacts that represent America’s affection for, and the influence of, automotive speed and style in all its forms.