So Close at the Big Go!

By:       Bruce Biegler

Canadian Top Alcohol racer Shawn Cowie came “extremely close” to winning the sport of drag racing’s most coveted prize yesterday during the 56th running of the NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis….

Cowie, from Delta BC, appeared primed, ready and fully able to win his most prestigious event to date.  But the rather finicky Gods of drag racing unfortunately ruled otherwise — in a rather dramatic and split second change of fortune.

Cowie’s very potent Mundies Towing-sponsored race team, which has been a tower of power all season in NHRA TAD racing, had entered the Indy event 3rd in World championship points.

Canada's Shawn Cowie

They promptly qualified very solidly – 4th – with a 5.302 secs effort.   Throughout eliminations they remained super quick and fast with consecutive runs of 5.334 – 5.313 and 5.295 secs (that one at a whopping 270.32 mph) while dominating their opponents and advancing to the final round.

In the final they raced against another supercharged alcohol car, NHRA Division 3 powerhouse Marty Thacker.  Thacker left the gate first with a better RT; however Cowie’s machine in fact caught him by the 330 foot mark and was clearly ahead at the 1000 foot cone.

But then almost inexplicably and unbelievably, in an instant the dream was gone.  The B.C. team suffered a most untimely and very uncharacteristic major mechanical failure.  The car nosed over and Thacker barely edged Cowie at the stripe; 5.415 secs 266.85 mph to Shawn’s now coasting 5.488 secs at 226.89 mph.

If Cowie could have prevailed,  it would have been the 2nd year in a row that a Canadian had won the TAD title at Indy, following Ken Perry’s memorable win in 2009.

“It was there until the transmission failed in high gear,” explained Bill Moore, the crew chief.  “Shawn didn’t lift and the motor was on the chip hard.  But there was nothing he could do except push in the clutch and coast.  We have a plan to fix this from happening again — it just stings to be so close.”

The "Cowie Car" was quick and fast at Indy!

The loss is a “stinger” for the team for sure – this is not your mainstream event – it is Indy.   But – the team should not hang their heads at all.   Their time will come and I expect that time is much sooner then later.  There is in fact a much bigger prize looming out there.   The runner-up finish did further enhance their NHRA Lucas Oil TAD World Championship aspirations, a goal which is now clearly within reach. 

While this B.C.-based team are likely fans of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks – I kind of see them as the Blackhawks of the TAD class.  Like them, they are on the verge of their own greatness…


(Bruce Biegler Photos)