Whether it’s roofing or racing, Vernon Rowland has it covered.
The 48-year-old owner of a commercial roofing business in Oklahoma was one of the leading drivers in the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Summit Sportsman National Championship all season.
With three wins and four final-round appearances, Rowland became the IHRA Super Rod World Champion. He also finished sixth in the Quick Rod standings, and was understandably proud of how he ran throughout the year.
“Everybody has that same goal when they start the season,” said Rowland, who drives a 1985 Oldsmobile Calais in Super Rod. “To accomplish that with the competition out there, it was a great experience.”
He had three wins at San Antonio, US 131 in Michigan and Memphis in Super Rod competition. But his best day at the track came at the final weekend at Dragway 42 in Ohio, when he finished runner-up.
“The night that I ended up clinching the championship, my daughter won Hot Rod and I finished runner-up in Super Rod and won in Quick Rod,” he explained. “We had a dream night. And then I had a weekend at Memphis where I won in both cars, and it’s the first time I ever accomplished that.”
Rowland’s daughter is Brittany Devore, who along with her husband, Parker, join Rowland on the racing tour. It’s truly a family affair as his wife, Sheila, often comes on the racing trips and his son takes care of the roofing business when they’re on the road.
Rowland and his wife will soon be taking another IHRA-related trip.
He and Hot Rod champion Christopher Webb were chosen by a blind draw as winners of a trip to Aruba made possible through the IHRA’s partnerships with AroundArubaTours.com, El Gaucho restaurant, Tropicana Resorts — TropClub Casino, More 4 Less car rentals and the Don Flip Racing team.
For Rowland, the vacation couldn’t come at a better time.
“I was caught completely off-guard,” he said. “When I called my wife, she was thrilled. My wife and I will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary in March, and we are very much looking forward to this trip.”
It’s a great reward as racing can have more than its share of pitfalls. Rowland has been through the ups and downs, like crashing his 1963 Corvette roadster in 2012, which forced him to switch to the Calais.
It’s a passion, and he even enjoys the time from October to February when he’s not at the track, but is working on race cars in the shop. It paid off with the Super Rod championship and the two wins this season in Quick Rod.
Rowland, who runs IHRA contingency sponsor Mickey Thompson tires, will keep going strong. Because whether it’s at home or at the track, he has it covered.