SPRINGFIELD — Every lap is a new adventure for Todd Bowsher and Michel Disdier.
Disdier, a Nice, France, native and former Formula 3 driver, is hoping to become the first Frenchman to drive in NASCAR since the 1960s — and he’s working with Bowsher Motorsports to make that happen.
Disdier and Bowsher Motorsports are in the middle of a 10-race partnership, running in the 2009 ARCA RE/MAX series.
“He’s very driven,” said Bowsher, a Harmony Township resident. “He wants to be like Juan Pablo Montoya. He wants to be in NASCAR.”
There have been some growing pains along the way. In four starts this season, Disdier has finished no better than 16th. He had never driven a stock car until his two-race deal with Bowhser Motorsports last season.
“Every time he goes to these tracks, he’s seeing them for the first time,” Bowsher said. “He’s getting his feet underneath him. He’s coming up to speed a little more each race. He’s definitely learning.”
That leads Bowsher to believe good things are on the horizon. Disdier got caught up in an accident in front of him on the first lap of the Tim Richmond Memorial ARCA RE/MAX 200 at Mansfield Speedway on Saturday, June 20, but still managed to race his way back to 19th place.
“It could’ve been a top-10 car with any luck at all,” Bowsher said.
Bowsher is serving as Disdier’s spotter, helping mentor him as much as possible, while Jim Sweeney is the team’s crew chief. Bowsher said the team is working harder than it ever has to help Disdier.
“The team has stuck together through all of this,” Bowsher said. “That’s the one constant. They’re just as focused as before. It’s a new adventure.”
Bowsher is happy to be back at the track. The team had been at every ARCA race since 1988 until it had sponsorship issues in 2007.
“It’s like you’re back at home to some extent,” Bowsher said.
As for Bowsher, he’s hoping to get back into the car as early as the 2010 season.
“We’re trying to weather the storm with the economic state and do the thing we know how to do, and that’s race,” Bowsher said. “We want to give Michel the best possible car and the best chance possible to move on.”
ARCA is seen around the racing community as a stepping stone to bigger events. Disdier is hoping to make a move to the NASCAR Nationwide or Craftsman Trucks series next year and there’s a possibility the partnership could continue.
Until then, they’ll focus on the present.
“We’re the first step for him,” Bowsher said. “We’ll take it as it goes, but we’re focused on this season.”
Disdier will return to the track in the Click It or Ticket Buckle-Up Kentucky 150 on Saturday, July 18. The race can be seen live on SPEED at 9:30 p.m.
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