OHIO VALLEY — 1,100 horsepower. That is how much Greg Fowler needs to travel over 150 miles per hour in the eight-mile Hot Rod class satisfying his need for speed.
All of that power comes by way of a naturally aspirated 582-cubic inch aluminum big block Chevy engine, made by Brodix (an aftermarket parts supplier) through a heavily modified Chevy Turbo 400 transmission to spin the massive Mickey Thompson drag slicks under the rear fenders.
Going fast has been an activity of Fowler’s since he was a teenager in the 1960’s racing a six cylinder 1965 Chevy Biscayne. Fowler, who currently sits on the Mason County Board of Education, soon after upgraded to a ‘67 Chevelle SS, racing both on the streets and at drag strips in Proctorville and Winfield, W.Va. He remembered racing at Wilson’s Stretch, where people would line up the whole quarter mile to watch him race.
“People came from all over to race, and I never lost to anyone” said Fowler. He recalled fondly his early days of racing, but was very clear that he is not an advocate.
“We’re lucky nobody ever got hurt doing that. Back then we didn’t have the tracks like we do now, kids really shouldn’t race on the street.”
Drag racing grew from the street to full fledged track racing over years for Fowler. In 2000 he started racing the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Hot Rod Class, where he competed in every points event for 16 years. This class of racing uses a 7-second index in the eighth mile, in which drivers must get as close to 7.000 seconds without going under, while still beating their opponent to the finish line. It is a heads up style race – closest to 7 seconds without busting wins.
During his career in the IHRA, Fowler has amassed significant awards. He has multiple Ironman awards, a special award given out to winners of a divisional race event in the IHRA. He won Sportsman of the Year in 2013, a special award given to one individual in IHRA annually for their racing, character, and community service off the track. It is the highest honor awarded to an IHRA racer. He has been a leading contender in IHRA Hot Rod Class since he began competing in 2000, and now has 17 trophies to prove it.
Fowler has also recently won at the IHRA Summit Sportsman National Championship at Keystone Raceway Park in Pennsylvania. He took home first place with a 7.02 second elapsed time at 115.86 mph with a .022 second reaction time.
This added to his already long list of success in drag racing, in which he gives most of the credit to others. Greg Sauvage of Meigs County built and maintains the car. Keeping 1,100 horsepower reliable is a task in and of itself.
“Sauvage does the work on the car. If he didn’t do it, I wouldn’t be able to get in and drive,” stated Fowler, who was also grateful for his sponsor Friends of Coal (FOC). With FOC, Fowler has been in nearly every school in the state of West Virginia sharing with kids about setting goals, working hard, and doing what is right.
“Friends of Coal makes a big difference, I’m really glad for their work and sponsoring me,” claimed Fowler. While Fowler has stepped back from racing every IHRA event, he is still competitive.
“I’d like to get 20 Ironman trophies, but I doubt I’d stop there too,” he said. “There’s always room for one more.”
Despite Fowler’s age, he continues to be competitive and sharp, outracing younger competitors.
“Racing keeps me young, and helps me stay sharp. It’s part of why I do it,” stated Fowler.
He also explained that he will likely continue to race as long as he is able, because the need for speed is never really satisfied.
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