CONCORD, N.C. — As NASCAR racer Clint Bowyer sees it, racers are race fans.

"It’s just plain and simple, that’s the way it is," Bowyer said. "It doesn’t matter if I’m at a motocross race or a drag race, or a NASCAR race, a dirt race, a late model race, a sprint car race, I don’t care. I’m in and I love it. You just can’t get enough of it. I guess you have to be a racer to be able to feel that and be that way."

Bowyer spent the better part of Friday afternoon at the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway as a guest of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force through their mutual Peak sponsorship.

As long as Bowyer can remember his life has been associated with horsepower, and particularly in the one motorsport where horsepower is in abundance — drag racing.

"I grew up in Kansas. Heartland Park in Topeka, Kansas was built when I was a little kid," Bowyer said. "I will literally never forget being my son’s age and going there with my dad. A lot of my dad’s friends were in the diesel engine business and had diesel truck shops around town in Emporia and they all had drag cars."

While most impressionable youth of his era were most infatuated with nitro legends Force and Joe Amato, not Bowyer. He was a fan of local Topeka sportsman legend Gary Stinnett.

"I really loved drag racing," Bowyer recalled. "That’s all I knew and then all of a sudden you get a NASCAR ride and you get a chance to race for Richard Childress and become a NASCAR driver. The next thing you know you’re talking to somebody and you come across Ron Capps, then the next thing you know you’re somewhere and you’re eating dinner with Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, and you’re like...what is going on? These are all guys when I was a little kid that were just bigger than life to me and they still are."

In September of 2008, Bowyer was able to scratch his drag racing itch with a special closed test session with fellow NASCAR racer Kenny Wallace as they did burnouts in a pair of Victor Cagnazzi Pro Stock Chevrolet Cobalts.

Bowyer admits the experience behind the wheel of drag racing's equivalent to a Cup car was a bit intimidating.

"We were both so scared to do it and I think for me, I had watched it a lot versus him, I don’t think he’d ever been to it before," Bowyer said. "But to be able to get in that car and feel that thing. And we just did a burnout and was able to do a couple launches because the track was literally brand new, the four-wide track here at zMax was brand new and it wasn’t even rubbered all the way down yet. So they let us do a couple burnouts and a couple launches and that was about it for me. I had the bug, I was wanting to go more. It was really, really cool."

The experience left Bowyer with an even larger appreciation of what drag racing, particularly with Pro Stock entails. He's also keen on nitro racing as well.

"Man I’m telling you, it’s just so cool what they do and what the physical aspect of this racing is. It blows my mind that these racers are able to stay in the saddle as long as they do like a John Force or a Tim Wilkerson, just any of these guys that continue to do this because that’s a toll. That’s like strapping yourself to a slingshot and letting it rip. Ten thousand horsepower is pretty amazing," he said.

Bowyer admits he's got a passion for fast cars, especially his 1969 Camaro he'd like to someday take for a spin down the zMax Dragway quarter-mile.

"Just because you go in circles doesn’t mean you don’t want to go straight fast," Bowyer said with a smile.

Bobby Bennett is the editor of CompetitionPlus.com, a leading Internet drag racing magazine based in Spartanburg. Follow CompetitionPlus.com on Twitter @competitionplus.