Column: Veteran Mike Fowler Is The DIRTcar Sportsman Driver Who Wants It All

Column By: MICHELINA FRISS / DIRTCAR – FULTON, NY – Mike Fowler remembers being about 6 years old, sitting in the stands, watching his father race Street Stocks at local tracks.

He remembers watching his cousin and other local drivers like Guy Marcinko, Lee Gill, Bill Gill and Rob Winters compete “in a league of their own.”

The racing bug bit Fowler early on, and he knew he wanted to join his childhood idols competing and being a part of all the action in the world of racing.

The first car Fowler ever owned was a 4-Cylinder Super Stock. He tussled with various mechanical issues and could never quite “get it right” so the car could perform at an optimal level. He moved on, trying his hand next at a National Street Stock and then an IMCA Modified.

After moving to Texas and working there for a time, he returned home to Fulton, NY to take care of his father who was in poor health. He managed to buy a Sportsman Modified from Tim Sears Sr. and was able to compete for several years. But Fowler ran into financial difficulty to fund his racing, and he was forced to hang up his helmet in April 2006.

After figuring out a plan to remain financially stable, he’s back behind the wheel of his #410 Sportsman and loving every minute of being on the track.

“We’re competing for wins, we’re running in the top five, and quite frankly I’m just having fun,” Fowler said.

This season, Fowler is proving that hard work and persistence eventually pay off. He is one of only a handful of Sportsman drivers competing in the Central and Western Regions. In the Central Region, which he considers to be his “home” region, he currently sits in third place, only 14 points behind the leader. He has one Top 10 Finish in two starts. In the Western Region, Fowler currently sits in second place, only 16 points out of first, with two Top 10 Finishes in three starts. In 2021, he was able to notch two Feature wins.

He calls Can-Am Speedway his home track, but loves to hit the road and venture outside of his comfort zone.

“I think traveling makes for a better race car driver,” Fowler said. “You get to experience different groups of drivers, different racetracks, different surfaces; so, not only as a driver does it make you better, I think as a tour on the race car it’s better.”

When asked about what his goals are for the season, Fowler didn’t shy away from expressing his genuine ambitions and the heights he would like to reach.

“I want everything,” he said. “I want the track championship. I want a regional championship. I want the overall. I want (NAPA Super DIRT Week at) Oswego. I want to win (the World Short Track Championship at) Charlotte. I’m not going to these races and having fun to run second to nobody.”

There’s still some time before the 42-year-old hangs up his helmet, but when he decides to, Fowler said he doesn’t see himself leaving the racing world entirely.

“When I think about stuff, whether it’s technical stuff, rule changes, or whatever conversation we have that day is, I think I could do a lot of good,” he said. “And not just for the division I represent right now, but for motorsports as a whole. I don’t know what that looks like after racing, but I can promise you I’m up to the challenge, whatever it is. It’s just a matter of when it stops being fun for me, I’m going to hang up the helmet, hang up the suit, and I’m going to put on a different hat. And I’ll still be at the races every week.”

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