No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) driver Clint Bowyer used his driving skill, daring, marketability, hard work and a lot of natural talent to become a 10-time winner in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, as well as the 2008 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion.
To hear Bowyer tell it, he also had a huge advantage growing up with parents Chris (Pops) and Jana Bowyer, who were as important to their son’s success as anything else in his career.
“We grew up in Emporia, Kansas, but sometimes we raced motorcycles in Oklahoma and Texas and all over the place,” Bowyer said. “My parents owned a tow-truck business together and raised three boys. We always raced. We always traveled up and down the road in a motorhome. That’s what we do for fun – that’s what we’ve always done for fun. We raced together as a family and that’s our vacation.”
One of his favorite childhood memories was in Oklahoma, when his mother took charge of making the racers look presentable.
“The dirt is red in Oklahoma and all three of us brothers were racing motorcycles and racing two or three classes, and we would be down there for a week,” he said. “It would rain and it was muddy and I remember my mom – she was like the coolest girl in the pits because my dad found her like this miniature washing machine and she was washing all the red dirt out of those clothes and trying to keep everything clean. I had white boots and she was trying to keep those clean.”
Bowyer said living with him, Pops, and brothers Casey and Andy wasn’t always easy for Jana.
“When you live with four guys, you’ve got to be tough,” Bowyer said. “She’s a tough ol’ farm gal and she’d lay you out in a heartbeat if you needed it. She was every bit that girl. You didn’t cross Mom (laughs). She’d bust you in the mouth.”
Bowyer has a new appreciation for Jana and Pop’s dedication since he and wife Lorra started a family that includes Cash, 4, and Presley, 2. Clint and Lorra are active in their kids’ lives. Cash is already wheeling a mini-go-kart around the family farm, and some afternoons the Bowyers are in the motorhome lot at NASCAR tracks pitching a tennis ball to Cash, who’s a first-year baseball player.
Being a parent gave him a new appreciation for his parents.
“I remember how hard my parents worked to get us to the races and, once you are there, ‘oh my gosh, it is a lot of work,’ Bowyer said. “Now that I am older and have kids, it is hell for a parent. I couldn’t imagine having three kids racing all these different classes and having to keep track of that and when to be up there. We slept in an old, 40-foot motorhome.”
The Bowyer family returns to Kansas this week for Saturday night’s 400-mile Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, then celebrate Mother’s Day with Jana and Lorra on Sunday.
Other than winning the Daytona 500, a Kansas victory might be the highlight of Bowyer’s career. He owns two top-five finishes and six top-10s in 21 starts at Kansas.
“I love Kansas, it’s home,” said Bowyer, who finished ninth Monday at Dover (Del.) Speedway and moved to 10th in the standings. “But, there’s been something about that track I’m still trying to figure out. Maybe Saturday night we’ll put it all together.”
Sunday’s Mother’s Day plans could be in jeopardy if he does put it all together Saturday night.
“I’ve said before that if we ever win at Kansas, I probably wouldn’t be in very good shape for Mother’s Day,” he said with a laugh. “We would probably have to postpone that to Monday. It would be huge to win at home and finally seal the deal after all this time. It would be ultra-special. This is where all my family and friends and people who helped me get to where I am today all live, in the area, and it would be cool to celebrate that with them. I think probably everybody would have an open invite.”
CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What has Kansas Speedway meant to the surrounding area?
“I’m partial because it’s my home track, but I think that area has become so much fun for the drivers, crews and families because of that racetrack. You have a casino, shopping, soccer complex, baseball and an unbelievable world-class racetrack. There is just so much to offer there in Kansas City.”
Why should fans go to Kansas Speedway?
“I remember watching Kansas Speedway getting built. You went to Wyandotte County, it was a bad part of town. It wasn’t something that you see today. That speedway was solely responsible for the destination it’s become of Kansas Speedway. You have the legends. You have soccer complexes. You have baseball. You have a casino, now, in the back straightaway as the latest thing. All set up on two major highways so it’s easy in and out. It was the latest and greatest of what we have in racetracks today and it still is that way and it’s always fun. Then, you’ve got barbecue. You’ve got Kansas City barbecue – it’s the best in the world. You’ve got to go to Kansas Speedway.”