Bowles Captures First Win for Propane-Powered Mustang

BowlesMilan377x283 LIVONIA, Mich. – Donnie Bowles can add another item to his growing list of accomplishments as he became the first driver on the ROUSH® Drag Team to take one of the liquid propane-powered Mustangs to a victory. His win came during the August 29 elimination rounds of the 4th Annual NMCA Muscle Car Nationals at Milan (Mich.) Dragway.

The weekend started well as Bowles carded a perfect 0.000 reaction time which placed him as the top qualifier among the 36 contestants in the Open Comp class. However, it wasn’t all clear sailing to the finals.

The biggest drama of the event came during the third round when the team discovered a crack in the wishbone. This likely occurred during a Friday evening qualifying run when the tire hooked in the burnout box and the body rolled hard, but the damage went undiscovered. Fortunately, his third round was a bye run (single pass) so Bowles was able to stage, take the win light, and quickly get his car repaired in time for the fourth round.

It took six rounds in total for Bowles to seal the win against Adam Samfilippo. His run of 10.580 at 121.00 mph was just 0.06-seconds higher than his breakout which captured the win by a scant 0.01-second.

“It was very satisfying to get the first win for the ROUSH Powered by Propane Drag Team. My teammate Susan (Roush-McClenaghan) and I have both gone to final rounds this year, but haven’t quite been able to close the deal until this weekend at Milan. It required a total team effort, as we faced our share of challenges on Sunday. An earlier oil pressure issue on my car was traced back to a defective filter, then as I was preparing for the third elimination round we discovered a broken suspension component. Fortunately, I was unopposed and with the help of Billy Gilsbach of Gilsbach Racecraft, we completed repairs just before the next round of racing,” said an exuberant Bowles following his win.

Bowles currently leads the NMCA Open Comp point standings and races a 2005 ROUSH Stage 3™ Mustang which was converted during the off-season to run on liquid propane. This car, along with a 2010 ROUSH Stage 3 driven by teammate Susan Roush-McClenaghan, are an offshoot of the kits that ROUSH Performance uses to convert gasoline-powered Ford pickups and vans to run on clean-burning propane.

Both cars use an all-aluminum 5.4L, V-8 Ford engine that was originally designed for the Ford GT supercar. This engine is naturally-aspirated with a 12.5:1 compression ratio. Several other changes were required to run on liquid propane, including CNC ported cylinder heads, high performance camshaft and valvetrain, and a wet sump lubrication system, all of which helps these liquid propane-power engines to generate in excess of 700 horsepower.

“The liquid propane fuel injected engines performed flawlessly throughout the weekend and were the picture of consistency over a wide variety of changing weather conditions. Consistency and reliability are the keys to success in this form of racing and these liquid propane-powered engines continue to prove themselves and demonstrate the technology is viability within the severe-duty environment of competitive drag racing,” Bowles said.

Despite popular misconceptions, propane is actually very safe to use as a motor fuel and has a significantly lower flammability than gasoline. It is also good in cool or hot weather making it ideal for motorsports applications. Propane is the third most popular motor fuel (behind gasoline and diesel), and there are already more than 12 million propane-fueled vehicles on roads across the world. As a green fuel, on average propane fleet vehicles reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 19 percent and create 20 percent fewer nitrogen oxides, up to 60 percent less carbon monoxide, and fewer particulate emissions, as compared to gasoline.

Bowles has several companies involved in his program that helped get him to the winner’s circle including: ROUSH Competition Engines, Mickey Thompson Tires and Wheels, Moroso Performance Products, McLeod Racing, Kooks Custom Headers, Comp Cams/F.A.S.T., Long/G-Force, Moser Engineering, and Ford RacingMatukas Motorsports Race Cars.

Based in Livonia, Mich., “The Art of Performance Engineering” takes place at ROUSH Performance. To get a look behind the scenes at what goes on at ROUSH and how the vehicles are designed, manufactured and produced logon to For more information see your local ROUSH® dealer, visit or telephone toll-free (800) 59-ROUSH. Follow us on Twitter @_ROUSH_ or on Facebook at

About the author

ROUSH Performance
ROUSH Performance
ROUSH Performance, a division of Roush Enterprises, designs, engineers and manufactures completely assembled pre-titled vehicles, aftermarket performance parts, and superchargers for the global performance enthusiast market. Based in Plymouth Township, Michigan, ROUSH Performance was founded in 1995 by motorsports legend Jack Roush.
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