All Nowland has done since joining Ford in 1955 is make a difference. He worked with the original Ford Engineering family of racing engines in the early '60s and headed up the team that developed the D-3 cylinder head program that helped Ford win its second consecutive NASCAR championship in 2004.
In between, he was with the Indianapolis 500 group when Jimmy Clark scored his famous victory in 1965, the GT-40s that won at LeMans in '66 and '67, Bill Stoppe and the desert truck program and Michael Kranefuss with the start-up SVO group in the '80s. Along the way, he worked with such legendary drivers and race teams as A.J. Foyt, Junior Johnson, Dan Gurney, Cale Yarborough, Ned Jarrett and Holman-Moody.
Those victories at Indianapolis and LeMans four decades ago, says Nowland, were especially rewarding. "It was also one of those challenges that you'd thought you'd never get through, but you did-and you did it."
It was a high point in a career of high points. However, it hasn't all been fast cars and checkered flags for Nowland; he was an integral part of non-racing programs, too. He started with the company as an experimental mechanic, and worked on, among other things, the limited production of a V8 diesel truck engine. Later, in the mid-'70s, he helped supervise a group that built a Presidential limousine, and produced one-of-a-kind crash-test vehicles.
But, for the most part, his career has been in racing, where winners are absolute, and an engineer quickly knows whether what was done was good enough.
"What was exciting to me was to overcome whatever obstacle was in front of you to get the job done for Sunday," says Nowland of life in the engineering fast lane. "That really challenged me, and it feeds my drive today."
And, with ever-advancing technologies, the challenges to increase an engine's horsepower that Nowland now faces at the beginning of the 21st century are bigger than what he met in the middle of the 20th century. Yet instead of basking in his considerable past, Nowland continues to look ahead.
"One of the reasons I'd hate to leave today is, man, there's some fun stuff going on," he says. "At one time I felt I was born way too late, because I missed the achievements of Henry Ford, naturally. But now I'm saying I was born too early."
To learn more about Nowland and the last 50 years of Ford engineering, visit www.fordracing.com.