If only Clint Bowyer had met H.G. Wells.
Wells, the science fiction author who wrote the 1895 novella The Time Machine, is credited with the concept of time travel using a machine that’s spawned loads of movies and television shows.
Bowyer said he wishes he had a time machine for racing purposes so he could race in different decades against the NASCAR heroes of each era.
“The coolest thing for me would be to invent a time machine where you could go back, click into the '60s, and be in the car racing, with Ralph Earnhardt and Ned Jarrett and those guys,” said Bowyer.
“Then all of a sudden we’d fire that machine up and move in to the '70s and bang fenders with David Pearson, Richard Petty and all those guys Then I’d move into the '80s go up against Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt and just live in that. Why stop there, we’d have to go to the 90s. Gosh, the '90s look so much fun. I think I would stop after that. From then I’ve pretty much lived it so we wouldn’t need a time machine.”
Bowyer won’t need the time machine to go back in time when he races his No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. The Virginia track is a glimpse into the future of all race facilities. A $30 million redevelopment project included a redesign of the entire infield with driver Q&A’s, music, food and everything fans asked for in a race experience. The Richmond infield is its own village with access to the Cup cars and teams.
The .75-mile oval also retains its historic short track flare. It staged its first Cup Series race in 1953 when Lee Petty took the checkered flag. There have been 125 Cup races at Richmond and Bowyer is proud he’s won two of those races.
“Richmond is such an important part of our sport,” said Bowyer. “It’s a new modern facility but it's still good old Saturday night short track racing at Richmond. You feel like those guys in the 50s, 60s and 70s did when you race here. She’s been good to me over the years and I hope she'll be good to me again this weekend.”
Bowyer has raced well over his career on the Virginia track. In addition to the two victories he owns four top-five and 14 top-10s in 26 starts. He arrives at Richmond on a roll after a seventh-place finish at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway where he led 24 laps and looked to be a contender for the victory before a late race accident dropped him to midpack. He rallied for his third consecutive and 200th top-10 finish in his career. Bowyer is now 11th in points.
Bowyer hopes to move into the top-10 in the standings before the Cup Series takes a weekend off after the Richmond race then resumes its schedule on April 21 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Like most drivers and crew members, Bowyer will spend the rare off weekend with family even though that might not be in his nature.
“I am never a stay-at-home kind of guy,” Bowyer said laughing. “Like, my wife, you know, she, she enlightens me to that fact, all the time, that, ‘You realize we haven't been home more than four days this whole offseason, you, you understand that, that this is not normal?’ It's normal for me.”
Races before the off-weekends seemed like prime motivation for SHR’s Fords in 2018. There were only three off weekends on the calendar, and Bowyer won at Martinsville and Michigan the final races before the first two off weekends. His then SHR teammate Kurt Busch won at Bristol in August, the race before the final off weekend of the season.
Bowyer wouldn’t mind a repeat visit to victory lane at Richmond this weekend. That’s a trip back in time he’ll always enjoy.