"My roadster sat in my mother's back yard for seven years. My brother Earl said, 'let's take it out to the drags.' Florence didn't want me to take it but I was hardheaded and went drag racing anyway. I got a trophy first time out, windshield on it and all, at the San Fernando Drag Strip-87 in the quarter."

Hardhead
Jim's hardheaded refusal to sell his roadster paid off at Famoso Drag Strip. "I took the radiator out of the roadster to try and lighten the thing up; I had just the top of the hood on it, and took the sides off. I had quick-release springs on the hood to hold it down. I went down the strip and the hood came up, I got off it and the hood went down. I got on it and it came up again. Got out of it and I thought I'd better get going. It finally blew off, and I tried to catch it, but the hood hit me in the head," Jim laughs. "It went 83 mph."

Jim ran nine times at the drags and collected six trophies. We can only speculate, had Jim decided to continue drag racing with his early successes, he might have been known as "B-Block Bowden."

Soft-spoken Jim Bowden is truly part of the great generation of hot rodders. Jim is not only a war hero who endured life-threatening hardships as a POW, but represents what early hot rodders were all about. When called upon to serve, they put the hot rods away and fought for their country with valor. They came home and went to work building this country.

Jim got out of the business but kept the property, which is leased out. Jim and Florence retired to Hesperia in 1994.

Jim was not a frequent racer, or a well-known one, but when Jim did compete he left his mark as his trophies attest. Jim raced when he and hot rodding were young. Both can be proud of their heritage. To call Mr. Bowden an unsung hero would be an understatement. Jim, you're a great American and I'm proud to have written your story.

Jim has never returned to the dry lake since the last time he ran in 1949. I will see to it that Jim and I are at the El Mirage meet May 2011.