Clint Bowyer plans to rest, drink lots of water and prepare for a long, hot race late Sunday afternoon at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway when the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series holds its longest event of the season – the Coca-Cola 600.
With temperatures expected to touch the 97-degree mark Sunday in North Carolina, it’s appropriate Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) will carry the decals of PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze in the 600-mile race. He thinks seeing his car on the track will be a good reminder for race fans to prepare for the hot weather, just like the drivers and race teams.
“What a weekend for PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze to make its debut on our Mustang,” Bowyer said. “I’m willing to bet, among the thousands of cars this weekend in the heat and humidity at Charlotte and with the hot weather all over the country, someone is going to wish they had put PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze in their car. If you’re going home and you see someone with their hood up on the side of the road, you’ll know they didn’t.”
Bowyer hopes the weather won’t lead to any mechanical issues on the racetrack as he tries to win one of the sport’s crown jewels. Sunday marks the greatest day of the year in motorsports with the running of the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix, Indianapolis 500, and the 600. Bowyer will join PEAK customers and fans at SHR’s race shop to watch some of the Monaco race, where PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze and BlueDEF brands adorn the rear wing endplates of the Haas F1 Team cars driven by Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen and owned by SHR co-owner Gene Haas.
After the Monaco race, he’ll drive to the Charlotte track to fulfill more sponsor obligations, watch the Indianapolis race and prepare for 600 miles of racing.
“This is like Christmas Day for a race fan,” Bowyer said. “You could start watching Monaco early in the morning and keep watching racing until we are done late at night on Sunday.”
Bowyer should be one of the favorites this weekend. He won the pole and finished 12th in the Monster Energy All-Star Race last weekend at Charlotte. He owns a fall 2012 victory, two top-five finishes and five top-10s in 25 career starts on the Charlotte oval.
Amid the racing, the weekend is about honoring those in the military who gave their lives to their country. The Bowyer family is well aware of the sacrifices made by the military throughout history. Bowyer’s paternal grandfather Dale E. Bowyer was a 1st Lieutenant in the United States Army. He won the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism while fighting the armed enemy in Germany during World War II.
The Distinguished Service Cross, awarded for extraordinary heroism, is the second-highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of the Army. While leading his platoon under heavy fire in an attack near Sinz, Germany, on Jan. 25, 1945, Lt. Bowyer was severely wounded by an enemy mine. He refused evacuation even though both his feet were shattered. He shouted instructions and encouragement where he lay. Inspired by his bravery, the men re-formed, moved clear of the minefield and continued the advance. Only then did Lt. Bowyer allow himself to be evacuated, crawling clear of the minefield to avoid injury to people.
“His devotion to duty and to his men, and his courage and fearless determination, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service,” read the commendation he received. Lt. Bowyer eventually lost a leg due to his injuries. After his career in the Army, he lived in Iola, Kansas, and worked in the dairy business. He passed away in June 1974. Bowyer never met his grandfather.
This Sunday, his grandson Clint Bowyer will carry the name of Medal of Honor Citation recipient Master Sergeant Gary Gordon of the Army. Gordon died Oct. 3, 1993, while serving as Sniper Team Leader, United States Army Special Operations Command, with Task Force Ranger in Mogadishu, Somalia. The heroism of Gordon and Sergeant First Class Randy Shughart, whose name is on SHR teammate Daniel Suarez’s No. 41 Ford in Sunday’s 600-mile race, were chronicled in the 2001 movie Black Hawk Down.
Gordon’s sniper team provided precision fires from the lead helicopter during an assault and at two helicopter crash sites while subjected to intense automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenade fires. When Gordon learned that ground forces were not immediately available to secure the second crash site, he and another sniper unhesitatingly volunteered to be inserted to protect the four critically wounded personnel, despite being well aware of the growing number of enemy personnel closing in on the site. After his third request to be inserted, Gordon received permission to perform his volunteer mission.
When debris and enemy ground fire at the site caused them to abort the first attempt, Gordon was inserted 100 meters south of the crash site. Equipped with only his sniper rifle and a pistol, Gordon and his fellow sniper, while under intense small arms fire from the enemy, fought their way through a dense maze of shanties and shacks to reach the critically injured crew members. Gordon immediately pulled the pilot and the other crew members from the aircraft, establishing a perimeter that placed him and his fellow sniper in the most vulnerable position. Gordon used his long-range rifle and sidearm to kill an undetermined number of attackers until he depleted his ammunition. Gordon then went back to the wreckage to recover some of the crew’s weapons and ammunition.
Despite the fact he was critically low on ammunition, he provided some of it to the dazed pilot and then radioed for help. Gordon continued to travel the perimeter, protecting the downed crew. After his team member was fatally wounded and his own rifle ammunition exhausted, Gordon returned to the wreckage, recovering a rifle with the last five rounds of ammunition and gave it to the pilot with the words, “Good luck.” Then, armed only with his pistol, Gordon continued to fight until he was fatally wounded. His actions saved the pilot’s life.
“These are the real heroes in life and I’m honored we will carry Gary Gordon’s name on our car,” Bowyer said.
CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What is the appeal of the 600-mile race?
“I guess the anticipation and the unknown is what’s always been appealing to me. You don’t know what that 600 miles is going to give you. You could go out there and sit on the pole of that thing and, the next thing you know, make a mistake by getting caught speeding on pit road and that could be the very difference between winning and losing and putting yourself a lap down and never being able to get that lap back. That’s the crazy thing, when all the different challenges come because of the length of that race, a lot of different things – attrition with your equipment, attrition with your team, communication, any kind of weak link in the chain and you’re out, and that’s why I feel it’s important to have at least one of those long races.”
Do you notice the extra 100 miles in the Coca-Cola 600?
“It just depends on how your ole’ hot rod is, how your night’s going. The Coca-Cola 600 can be one of those deals where you feel like you could’ve gone another three or four hours, or it’s one of those where it’s like, ‘My God, is this thing ever going to end?’ You hope it’s the way I was describing before. You hope it’s, ‘This is easy,’ and wish it’d lasted a couple more hours.”
What is Sunday like for a race fan?
“Sunday is just a hell of a day of racing. You have one of the coolest races in Formula One in Monte Carlo, and then it’s the Indianapolis 500 – it’s one of their coolest races. Actually, no, it is their coolest race. And then the 600’s one of ours. I mean, it’s just a – it’s a hell of a day of racing. I’ve always been a fan of F1 and admired what they do, but now that the boss (Gene Haas) has cars in it and is competing in it, you follow and pull for those guys even that much more. Having the Indy 500 leading up to our 600 is awesome for a race fan and, hey, I’m a race fan. Who’s not, right? I want to watch that race, and do. The last few years have been phenomenal.”
What are your thoughts on the service of your grandfather and others in the military?
“I never got to meet him but I’ve seen a lot of letters from the President, medals and all these awards that he got. I have the highest respect for him and every soldier who has served this country. I love getting to meet them when they come to the track and I like getting to meet their families and just tell them thank you. We owe so much to everyone who’s served and we will always remember the ones who have given their lives. I love that we’ll honor them this weekend at Charlotte.”