When winning NASCAR Cup Series driver Clint Bowyer announced he was giving up the steering wheel, the NASCAR industry and fans felt bad for him – at first. At the same time, he revealed his efforts and energy were now going to the FOX TV broadcast booth keeping him in the sport. That’s a win for the fans, for sure.
As a driver, Bowyer has earned checkered flags and accolades for showing up every week to compete. To the media and its consumers, there was rarely a dull moment when given the mic under rain delay, post race or media center visits.
Starting in 2021, Bowyer will join Mike Joy and Jeff Gordon in the FOX Sports booth to call races. There have been some great drivers-turned-broadcasters such as Ned Jarrett, Buddy Baker, Benny Parson and Gordon, to name a few.
While they used their experience to share insight for viewers, there hasn’t been a Clint Bowyer.
Funny, witty, never shy, minimal filter and never without a comment or “what’d he just say?” moments through the years as a driver, there is little doubt that energy will carry over to the booth. We received a taste of what Bowyer could do as a broadcaste by his calling Xfinity and iRacing events recently.
During a Zoom call with the media, Bowyer answered various questions regarding his upcoming transition. And, he did it just the way one expected – Bowyer style.
“It was an opportunity of a lifetime, an opportunity to stay a part of this sport for many years to come, and that’s the coolest thing about it,” he said, regarding the decision. “Was I getting close to being ready to get out of the car and start thinking about it anyways? Yes.
“There were a lot of those things. But the fans, the event of a race weekend is something that you just can’t do without. I’m going to start doing the broadcasts, but the event itself, the fans in the infield, that’s what you feed off.
“I guess the picture just became so much clearer after the weeks went by for me of what to do for myself. Once the opportunity with Fox came to the table, it came to the forefront and was a reality.”
This past season has been full of changes and moves nobody could have predicted with COVID 19 taking over daily life. From sports to restaurants to outdoor events, every aspect has suffered. During that time, FOX chose to schedule and cover live iRacing events on Sundays.
Getting actual NASCAR drivers involved, and even some drag racers and dirt wheelman provided a nice fix for the racing junkies. It also provided and an opportunity for Joy, Gordon and Bowyer to work them as booth talents.
“This pandemic led to that opportunity to get in the studio with Jeff and Mike and have a ton of fun doing those iRacing races,” Bowyer said “That really kind of kept us on the map with our sport and kept our sponsors propped up.
“That was a ton of fun for me and it opened my eyes up in a big way. It was just something that nobody expected that opened the door for this opportunity we took.
“Mike Joy, oh my gosh, he’s gonna have his hands full. Can you imagine being up there trying to be a ringleader, trying to keep Jeff and I from arguing the whole race because there’s no way in hell he can be right and there’s no way in hell I can be right all the time. So, it’s going to be fun to call these races.”
Since he was five-years old, Bowyer has been around racetracks. During his driving career, he wore many different helmets, firesuits and endured enhanced safety changes in the cars. He drove for different manufactures, different teams and seemed to handle the changes in his typical humorous and “take it as it comes” Bowyer style.
For the 2021 Daytona Speedweek, the kid from Kansas will have to learn a whole new aspect which goes along with his career move.
“Makeup is going to be the worst part about all of it,” Bowyer said emphatically. “Honestly I never really said this. I’m an old kid from Kansas. If you’re going to put makeup on me, it’s going to take the tackle box anyway. It’s going to take everything you’ve got.
“I was doing some of those iRacing races and we couldn’t have any makeup or anything in the studio. Usually there’s a little girl that does all that for you and I was beet red compared to all of them that had makeup. I was like, ‘Man, if I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna have to do something here. I need to get some pointers from my wife or somebody.’
“It’s gonna take all of it — all of the arsenal of makeup to make my ugly ass look good.”
Like any athlete who has given their all for something they love so much, Bowyer felt he would have kept driving as long as an owner would have him. As the age of 41, thoughts of retiring as a driver become more frequent.
With the move to the booth, he will be able to remain involved in the sport and probably in a larger way than we’ve already experienced with him.
“I love being a part of this sport, that was so important for me,” Bowyer said. “I didn’t want to just retire. If this opportunity with Fox didn’t come to the table, I was going to be in a car somewhere somehow.
“I wasn’t going to just quit and run off into the sunset. I like this sport and I wanted to find my way and a future within it, and luckily this happened.”
He sure sounds ready to make the move. However, a question does come to mind in regards to the fun-loving Bowyer in the booth.
Are we ready for it?