Anderson Bowen might be racing’s “next big thing,” but it’s highly unlikely that he will be the one to tell you that. The 13-year-old native of Suwannee, Georgia looks like your average shy teenager, until he slides in the window of a racecar. Most 13-year-old boys spend their weekends and summers playing sports or video games. Anderson Bowen spends his running elbow-to-elbow with some of the best drivers this country has to offer.
Bowen has been winning races since he first donned a fire suit at the age of eight. In his first full season behind the wheel, he reeled off 12 feature wins in quarter-midget racing and captured the prestigious QMA Western Grands in Topeka, Kansas.
“The quarter-midgets are a real fun car to race,” said Bowen. “They are interesting to set up and they helped me get started.”
Bowen progressed through different types of racing machines with relative ease, moving from Midgets to Bandoleros and eventually to Legends Cars and the Pro Challenge Series. Multiple wins and championships in those scale car series have persuaded Bowen to continue on.
2011 is Anderson Bowen’s first year of Late Model racing, and while he hasn’t taken a checkered flag yet, one can only imagine that it’s not far off.
Bowen is honing his skills in his first year in a “big” car at two of the South’s trickiest short tracks; Lanier National Speedway in Georgia and South Alabama Speedway. He competes in the Super Six Series at Lanier and the Viper Series at Opp. In both series, Bowen finds himself racing door-to-door with some of the South’s best short-trackers including Bubba Pollard, Shayne Sawyer, Dwayne Buggay and Brandon Odom, among others. Still, Bowen doesn’t feel intimidated by the bigger names and more experienced wheelmen.
“I just look at them like they are my age,” he said. “We are all the same size once we get in the car, so I don’t really get nervous about racing these guys.”
Even though Bowen knows that Late Models are the way to the next level, he still can’t resist sliding in a Legends car every now and then. He has spent the summer hopping back and forth between his Bowen Family Homes Ford Fusion Pro Late Model at Lanier and Opp and his Anderson Bowen Racing Legends car on the Thunder Ring at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Bowen says the cars drive very differently, but feels that driving both helps him become a better driver.
“The horsepower to weight ratio is very different between the cars,” the young Georgian said. “In a Late Model, you can stab at the gas and the car doesn’t break loose and you don’t have to use as much break. The Legends car you have to manage your line a little differently and use a lot of break to get the car slowed down.”
When struggles do come however, Bowen doesn’t have to look far for advice. The young Georgia driver has two very talented former drivers on his crew; Wayne Willard and Joey Clanton. Willard is a two-time winner of “The Rattler” and Clanton is a former Late Model ace and NASCAR Busch Series and Truck Series driver.
“Joey has helped me so much” said Bowen. “He helped me get used to the way the Late Models drive and taught me how to attack the corner and adjust your line to how the car is on that certain run.”
Outside of the cockpit of the car, Bowen can rely on the support of one his biggest fans, his dad David Bowen.
“As long as Anderson progresses along and keeps having fun, we will support him and help him as much as we can,” said David Bowen.
Bowen would like to follow in the footsteps of Reed Sorenson, David Ragan, and Joey Logano. Those three current NASCAR stars all cut their teeth in Legends before moving on to higher ranks of racing.
“I think I can race in NASCAR if I am able to continue progressing like I want. I’ve been able to win some Legends races and hopefully soon we can start winning some in the Late Model. I just need to log laps and be there at the end.”
Bowen will look to expand his racing resume as the season begins to wind down. He will travel to Gresham Motorsports Park August 13th, and is eying a start in the Snowflake 100 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida as a good way to end the year.
“We are going to start running more tracks” said Bowen. “We are headed to Gresham this weekend, and look forward to going to Montgomery, Mobile and the Snowflake.”
If Bowen continues on his current pace, soon Chase Elliott won’t be the only young Georgia wheelman that has the attention of NASCAR owners.