ARCA: Jack Bowsher; 50 Years and Still Counting
26 December 1998By Don Radebaugh
Toledo, Ohio---With a half century of motorsports highlighting his resume, ARCA legend Jack Bowsher is still pumped and piling up parts in his central Ohio shop. Even though Bowsher has seemingly hung up his goggles, the crafty, prolific and stubborn veteran is not about to turn in the keys, at least not for 1999. The three-time ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series driving champion, and six-time car owner champion, is poised to chase his 50th season in motorsports, an arena in which the Springfield, Ohio native has either earned his living turning the wrench, or turning the wheel on his meticulously prepared Ford stock cars.
And while this golden anniversary celebration is certainly worthy of the appropriate media attention and all the hoopla that goes with it, this run is for real. A change here and a change there lends support to the theory that Bowsher and crew have one thing in mind in 99; another ARCA championship crown. With the announcement of Jeff Lemons as crew chief and partner in Jack Bowsher & Associates Motorsports, 14-time series winner Bob Strait returning as driver and Zinsser Paint Products returning as sponsor, there is new-born enthusiasm in the Bowsher bullring.
Lemons, champion crew chief for Frank Kimmel in 98 and the Clevite Engine Parts Mechanic of the Year, recently left the Larry Clement owned #46 team and signed on with Bowsher in an effort to help steer the team back on track. Apparently Bowsher, who in the last couple of years has acted as a one-man-band in the shop, is more than ready for a new set of hands to spar with. "I really think Jeff is going to be the missing link weve been looking for, not only as crew chief come raceday, but just as importantly here in the shop," said Bowsher. "I havent had full-time help here at home lately, and to run a successful race team in this day and age, youve got to have good, dependable help. I cant keep building race cars by myself so Im thinking this should make a big difference. If we dont knock each other out here, well knock em out on the track."
Lemons, who along with his 13 career series victories as crew chief, offers a unique combination of brains and brawn to the mix. The big man from Kettering, Ohio played offensive guard for Fort Hays State University in Fort Hays, Kansas on a full scholarship before graduating with a Bachelors degree in Agriculture and a minor in Industrial Arts.
Not exactly your average crew chief kind of guy, but regardless of the mix, and where the lessons are learned, Lemons has taught himself how to win. "My goal is to turn this team around," said Lemons. "With Jacks experience, expertise and unlimited knowledge, and with Strait coming back to drive, I know we can do it."
And as Bowsher embarks on his 50th year, Strait is not exactly a beginner in the field. The Mokena, Illinois veteran will go after his 33rd year behind the wheel representing an astonishing 83 years of combined experience between car owner and driver. "Im really looking forward to the new season," said Strait. "Its Jacks 50th year and Ill turn 50 in April. Now that might frighten some but I can assure you that Jacks as fired up as ever and Ill guarantee you Ive still got the fire burning and I have no intention of putting it out. Weve got something for em in 99."