Australian drag racing sensation Andrew Cowin is pleased to announce that he and his Cowin Family Racing team will contest the entire 23-race, US$50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series tour in the United States in 2002.
Buoyed by strong performances in 2001, the sport's increasing popularity with both race fans and television viewers in the U.S., and the signing of Coca-Cola's POWERade brand as the NHRA series' major sponsor, Cowin says the time is right for he and his team to make the commitment.
"Drag racing is loud, colourful and exciting and it's the fastest growing motor sport in America. We believe we're capable of being competitive against the best drag racers in the world and with the confidence we have in ourselves and the sport, we're putting it on the line for an all-out assault in 2002," Cowin says.
"We've raced on a part-time basis the last three years and our performances have become stronger as we've gained more valuable experience. With that experience and the full backing of my family and team, I believe we're ready to tackle the tour full-time and aim for nothing less than event wins and a top 10 finish."
The 22-year-old son of Australian drag racing legend Graeme Cowin has been a revelation since debuting his 7,000 horsepower Top Fuel dragster in the U.S. in early 1999, covering the standing quarter-mile in as quick as 4.58 seconds and regularly reaching terminal speeds in-excess of 320mph (520kmh).
In his debut season while aged just 19, Cowin became the world's "quickest and fastest teenager" when he completed a 4.58sec/313mph pass a mark that still stands today. That same season Cowin also became the youngest Top Fuel finalist in U.S. Nationals history when he raced veteran Cory McClenathan for the sport's most prestigious title at Indianapolis Raceway Park in Indianapolis, Indiana.
In April 2001, he reached his second career final round and raced six-time World Champion Kenny Bernstein for the SummitRacing.com Nationals title at "the Strip" in Las Vegas, while at July's 50th Anniversary NHRA Nationals, held in Pomona, California Cowin recorded his first 'top speed of the meet', reaching 321mph on the LA Fairplex quarter-mile.
Contesting just 15 of the 23 NHRA national events held during 2001, Cowin finished an extremely creditable 11th in points the Sydneysider having been ranked as high as eighth before a scheduled mid-season return to Australia.
"History shows we are capable; we qualified at every event we attended this year and consistently in the top 'half' of the 16-car field, so there's no reason not to expect anything less than a competitive effort," he says.
"Drag racing is all about consistency, especially with Top Fuel dragsters as, when you're trying to produce 7,000 horsepower, they are extremely volatile and tend to be temperamental. Our aim is to be consistent not necessarily the fastest and if we achieve that then we'll win races."
Along with the CFR team's strong performances during 2001, other major factors in their decision to commit to a full 2002 campaign has been steadily increasing spectator attendances, a massive 60-percent jump in the U.S. television ratings and the signing of Coca-Cola's POWERade as the NHRA's new major sponsor, replacing Winston after 27 years.
"The NHRA Drag Racing Series has never been more popular than it is now it has been recognised as second only to Winston Cup NASCAR and ahead of both the CART and IRL open-wheeler series," Cowin says.
"And now that POWERade has become title sponsor of the NHRA, the sport looks set to become more popular it's going to explode. Coca-Cola will market drag racing like it has never been done before and that's going to take us to the next level.
"It is an exciting time for drag racing and we are excited about the prospects for Andrew Cowin and the Cowin Family Racing team. We really want to be a part of it and, hopefully, we'll be a major part of it," he says.
Having spent five weeks at home in Sydney following the conclusion of the 2001 series, Cowin will return to the team's Palmdale, California base to prepare for the coming season in the week following Christmas.
"It is tough leaving home and travelling to the other side of the world to race living on the road and being away from my family and friends. But, this is the opportunity of a lifetime, it is something I have always wanted to do and I'm just jumping out of my skin wanting to get back into my car and race. I'm ready to go!" Cowin says.
ANDREW COWIN FAST FACTS
Born: November 21, 1979 Sydney, Australia
2002 car: Cowin Family Racing Top Fuel Dragster
Crew Chief: Graeme Cowin
Career wins/final rounds: 0/2
2001 wins/final rounds: 0/1
Career best elapsed time/best speed: 4.58 seconds/323 mph
- Quickest licence pass in Australian history 4.93 seconds 1997
- Record as world's quickest and fastest teenager 4.58secs/313mph
- Youngest Top Fuel finalist in U.S. Nationals history 1999
- Winner 2000 Australian MotorSport Awards Drag Racer of the Year
- Finalist 2000 Australian MotorSport Awards International Achiever of the Year, Young Achiever of the Year and Person of the Year
- Awarded Australian Sports Medal - 2000