John Bowe has been announced as an advance inductee for the 2018 Australian Motor Sport Hall of Fame.
Bowe, a two-time Bathurst 1000 winner, national touring car champion and Gold Star winner, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, presented by Speedcafe.com on Friday night, 23 March at a gala black-tie dinner to be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.
The Australian Motor Sport Hall of Fame is an initiative designed to recognise on- and off-track contributors across every discipline of motorsport in Australia from circuit racing, motorcycling, speedway, drag racing, rallying, off-road and karting.
Bowe is the 53rd inductee and joins legends of the sport including Sir Jack Brabham, Alan Jones, Mick Doohan and Peter Brock.
Now an icon of the popular Touring Car Masters series, Bowe made his name by winning two Bathurst 1000s and the 1995 Australian Touring Car Championship with Dick Johnson Racing.
His career began in his home state of Tasmania, where the Devonport-born driver won the state’s Formula Vee title in his first racing season in 1971, and state Formula Ford title the next year.
He moved up to the Australian Drivers’ Championship in 1978, winning the Gold Star championship in 1984 and again in 1985 when it was run to Formula Mondial regulations.
During 1985, Bowe made his touring car debut after Mark Petch hired him to share the New Zealander’s Volvo 240 Turbo with Robbie Francevic at the Sandown 500 and Bathurst 1000.
The team morphed into the Volvo Dealer Team in 1986, with Bowe finishing eighth in the championship as a full-time driver after engine problems cost him a likely first-time race win.
After Volvo’s exit from the championship, Bowe spent 1987 as an endurance driver for Gibson Motorsport’s Nissan team, and claimed his first touring car win in the Bob Jane T-Marts 300 on the combined Calder Park oval/road course circuit.
In 1988, Bowe commenced an 11-year partnership with Dick Johnson Racing, scoring his first win at Winton and finishing runner-up to Johnson in that year’s championship.
The following year, the two combined to win the Bathurst 1000, featuring Bowe’s understated “fancy doing that” remark while talking on RaceCam as he crossed the finish line in his Shell Ford Sierra.
His second and final Bathurst 1000 victory, again with Johnson, came after a battle with a then fresh-faced Craig Lowndes in 1994.
Bowe was too good for his competitors in the 1995 Australian Touring Car Championship, winning four rounds on his way to DJR’s last title until 2010.
He moved on to the new PAE Motorsport team in 1999 but split with the Ford outfit, which had since been taken over by Briggs Motorsport, before the end of the 2001 season.
Bowe then spent five years at Brad Jones Racing before seeing out his ATCC/V8 Supercars career driving for his friend and former DJR mechanic Paul Cruickshank in 2007.
Since then, Bowe has become a mainstay of the Touring Car Masters, winning the series five times, and competed sporadically in GT racing and a number of other events.
He has also added to his Bathurst achievements, winning the 12 Hour in its final pre-GT3 edition in 2010, then again in a Maranello Motorsport Ferrari in 2014.
He finished a close runner-up to friend and former team-mate Steven Johnson in last year’s Touring Car Masters series, a competition he’s won on five occasions.
Throughout his career, Bowe has gained a reputation as being a fierce competitor on track and notoriously difficult to pass.
He joins Formula 1 and Sportscar ace Mark Webber who was last month announced as the first 2018 Australian Motor Sport Hall of Fame advance inductee.
The final 18 recipients will be acknowledged on 23 March at what is expected to be a sell-out event.
WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY….
“To be honest, I am slightly overwhelmed,” Bowe said.
“When you are 35 (years old) awards mean nothing, but to be recognised by the industry and your peers at this stage of my career is really very humbling.
“It has certainly been a great journey since I started racing a Formula Vee at Baskerville in Tasmania at the age of 15.
“I was proud to be included in the Supercars Hall of Fame, but to be recognised alongside the greatest this country has produced across all facets of the sport in the Australian Motor Sport Hall of Fame is something else.
“I have turned plenty of laps since those Baskerville days, but I still have a desire to be out there racing and being as competitive as possible.
“I am honoured to be included in this year’s list of inductees along with Mark Webber and I look forward to seeing the remaining 18 recipients awarded on the night, which really has become one of the highlights on the Australian motorsport calendar.”
GARRY CONNELLY - HALL OF FAME CHAIRMAN
“John Bowe has been one of the real achievers in Australian motorsport and his passion is obvious when you consider that he is still racing and winning on race tracks around the country,” Connelly said.
“Not only has JB always been fast, but his ability to adapt to such a vast array of machinery has been one of his great skills.
“A terrific professional, John was an obvious choice for this year’s list of inductees alongside Mark Webber.
“We look forward to announcing the final 18 inductees for 2018 at our March 23 dinner presented by Speedcafe.com.”
The dinner will be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on Friday March 23, 2018 at 7:00pm for a 7.30pm start.
Selected corporate sponsorship packages and group tables are available by contacting Stacie Childs at CAMS on (03) 9593 7731 or [email protected].