GAC freshman to make ARCA racing debut this weekend

For as far back as his memory goes, Anderson Bowen recalls an infatuation with motors. Anything with an engine piqued his interest.

The 15-year-old Suwanee resident's first request to his parents as a young child fell in line with that love.

"I was really into dirt bikes," Bowen said. "I really wanted to ride dirt bikes. But my parents said no because it was too dangerous."

The compromise was found when Bowen, as a 7-year-old, went to see quarter-midget racing at a local go-kart track. After a few visits, his parents let him begin racing those small cars.

From his first few starts, he showed a competitive drive.

"At 7, I was one of the ones where I tried to win every race," Bowen said. "If not, I ended up on my lid or crashed out."

More often than not, he found a way to win, beginning with a Quarter Midget Association national title in 2009.

Over the next few years, Bowen continued to rise through racing circles, from bandoleers at Atlanta Motor Speedway to pro challenge to late models.

The next phase for Bowen begins this weekend. The Greater Atlanta Christian freshman makes his Automobile Racing Club of America debut at the ARCA Mobile 200, his first opportunity to drive the heavier cars on a circuit that is a step below NASCAR's Nationwide Series for stock-car racing.

Bowen will drive the Cunningham Motorsports No. 22 Dodge in the event, the first of three ARCA races on his schedule this year. His car was fast in testing last week and his crew chief is a NASCAR veteran, Paul Andrews, so Bowen enters with a lot of confidence. Andrews was Alan Kulwicki's crew chief in 1992 when the driver won the Winston Cup championship.

"My goals for this weekend are to keep my nose clean, qualify in the top 10 and maintain a top-10, top-five spot in the race," said Bowen, who was connected with Cunningham Motorsports through his cousin, GAC grad Michael Phelps, a former driver for that team. "If I do that, I'll be really pleased with my first start."

In addition to the ARCA starts, Bowen also will race two NASCAR K&N Pro Series events for Cunningham. In between, he will race for his family's Anderson Bowen Racing Team.

The hectic racing schedule is nothing new for Bowen, who raced at 27 tracks last year and was named the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour rookie of the year in 2012. Between the races, he still finds time for his studies at GAC and his hobbies of mountain biking, hunting and fishing.

But his main focus, as it's been for years, is auto racing. He hopes this weekend leads to his next goal, a full ARCA schedule when he turns 18.

"I would love for this to be my career," Bowen said. "I want to make each move count and keep progressing."