The author of the BFG pits program, co-driver extraordinaire, off-road legend Bob Bower shares insights into his early days. Bob is a practiced speaker, Rich and Bob had such a great interview, we split it into two episodes. This is part one.
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5:13 – earliest memories were reading MotorTrend and a feature article on Bill Stroppe’s teams on the PanAmerican rally
7:32 – learned to drive in a 5 mph old military jeep
10:58 – worked in a body shop and that immersed me in to being a car guy
16:56 – Tom Johnson’s Union Oil was a rite of passage in the neighborhood
19:05 – Religiously cleaned all the windows, front and back – but wait, that’s plexiglass on that Corvette
21:38 – cruising VanNuys Blvd in a Corvette
23:14 – I have an opinion
24:37 – I was getting trained as a speaker – and I didn’t know it yet
26:28 – wouldn’t you like to hook up with the people who set the trends instead of follow them?
32:26 – I didn’t know squat about tires
36:19 – slow hands, slow feet – that’ how you pit
42:40 – recognizing what is at stake when I’m talking
48:58 – here’s why off-road racing is expensive
53:37 – See’s Candy marketing built the BFG pits
56:50 – my first co-driver gig – I had finally arrived
59:11 – made ESPN’s Crash of the Week with that one
1:03:25 – if you’re in the air, you can’t accelerate, you can’t stop and you can’t steer
1:06:01 – the key to winning a long-distance desert race is not going faster, but going a little less slow
1:08:47 – Retired from racing on my terms with a win at the 50th Annual Baja 1000
Join us next week for some more great insight with Bob Bower for part two of this interview.
[00:01:20.740] – Big Rich Klein
Hello, everyone, thank you for listening to conversations with Big Rich. This week’s episode is going to actually be split into the next two episodes this week and next. Had a conversation you’ll hear with Bob Bower. It was a record interview length of time for us, almost three hours. So to make it easier to listen for everybody, we are cutting it into two parts. And you’ll hear the first part right now.
On today’s episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we have none other than Mr. History himself in off road Bob Bower, he’ll probably be embarrassed by that kind of an intro. But if anybody if anybody listening knows Bob Bower, you know what I mean? And for those that have never heard of Bob and have never talked to him, you are going to find out, sit back, enjoy this conversation, because Bob is an encyclopedia of great information. Bob, thank you for coming on board.
[00:02:22.900] – Bob Bower
Well, Rich, it’s my pleasure. I’m not used to doing things like this, and so I’m really curious to see how we do and how the listeners like it. That’s that’s that’s going to be it.
[00:02:33.020] – Big Rich Klein
OK, well, I’m positive that the listeners are going to like it. I’ve been really looking forward to getting you on the air here and discussing your history. So let’s jump right in.
Where did you grow up?
[00:02:49.420] – Bob Bower
Like I ever really did grow up and tell truth.
You know, it’s like somewhere outside the La Brea Tar Pits. I remember playing the saber tooth tigers as a child.
Now I’m a Southern California guy and specifically in the San Fernando Valley. And that became significant because the stuff we did then back in those days is sort of what got me a launch into a well in a car career.
You know, I’m a car guy who got lucky and ended up having a career being a car guy. So shoot, the valley wasn’t bad. That’s where car things happened.
[00:03:30.290] – Big Rich Klein
Right, so growing up in the valley, it was nice that you’re young enough that there were cars, some people would argue that, but the car, was it always four wheels or did you ever get involved with two wheels?
[00:03:43.670] – Bob Bower
You know, I somehow missed out on two wheels.
I mean, I had a motorcycle and a little Honda and it was fun. But I think that the people around cars is what made me stick me in the cars, the machine. But the other people who appreciate the machine seem to be around cars more than bikes. Bikes was a solitary thing with cars just go to me. You know, it’s not like you’re that age, Rich that you have a plan in mind. You just go where it feels good and it felt good to be around cars.
That was how it all got going.
[00:04:18.050] – Big Rich Klein
How did how did that interest in cars become a driving force or an influence in your life? Was your were your parents and into cars or was it just just something that one morning you woke up and. You know, I got to go out and work on the dad’s car or something.
[00:04:35.720] – Bob Bower
Yeah, I know my my mom and dad, my whole family, we’re not car people at all, you know? I mean, it’s like, OK, it was a car you went to, went to places.
My dad had an old car that I used to drive to the airport and back. It was an airline pilot so wanted to leave the car for four or five days. They still didn’t want to take a good one there. So cars was not a big deal except for me. And I remember reading, not really reading as much as looking at the captions and the pictures in magazines like Motor Trend and Road and Track. And I think that was actually before there was any real offroad, four wheeling, you know, magazines out there.
Give it a date. Let’s see. That was probably in the in the late 50s, maybe this one. And remember, I had this memory Rich off of pawing through a magazine, looking at the pictures. I think it was motor trend. And the pictures were highlighting an article about the PanAmericana American Road races, which PanAmericana rally, I think is a road race. You talked about the Bill Stroppe teams. Right, and the Lincoln Mercury’s and that they would able to go all throughout South America or not South America, but Mexico and in all those areas.
And they would have these major rallies. And it was like, oh, wow, you know, it got me. READ MORE