Home' V8X Supercar Magazine : Oct Nov 2014 Issue 83 Contents 59
that would see him become the most popular racing
driver in the country – a position he shows no sign of
relinquishing now, even at 40.
“If I hadn’t made that passing manoeuvre who
knows?” ponders Lowndes. “Hopefully I had done
enough already to probably have interest from other
teams, but I think that pass sparked my future with
HRT at the time.”
Twenty years on, if we widen our focus a little more,
we can see that race meant so much more than even
the emergence of one of our greatest ever drivers.
Clearly, Lowndes’ performance was the start of
the dismantling of the status quo in Australia’s most
popular motorsport category. A stasis had enveloped
the class; Peter Brock and Dick Johnson had been its
leaders for more than a generation. But others in their
age group such as Jim Richards, Colin Bond, Allan
Grice and Andrew Miedecke were all on the grid at
Bathurst in 1994.
Lowndes’ pace and success was the crack in the dam
wall that led to a flood.
“I think there was a lot of negativity against young
people getting involved in the sport at the time,”
Lowndes tells V8X.
“I didn’t realise that, the team was very good at
keeping me shielded from the politics and really just
allowed me to focus on driving a car.
“It was hard to break in. It was the old gentlemens’
club and young people weren’t seen to be the future of
the sport at that point.”
It’s an assertion Wayne Cattach agrees with. One of
the sharpest minds to ever inhabit the V8 pitlane, he
was Dick Johnson Racing (DJR) general manager and
played a critical role in the establishment and profes-
sionalising of the Holden versus Ford V8 category that
had started only in 1993. He later served as CEO of V8
Supercars alongside category czar Tony Cochrane.
“It changed the focus of a lot of young emerging
drivers. So instead of looking at Europe as where they
needed to go and Formula 1 as the pinnacle, all of
sudden they had realigned themselves. If Lowndes can
do this, take on one of the best drivers the category
has ever seen, then they realised there was a future for
them in V8s.”
But Cattach also defends the senior drivers, point-
ing out how important they were to public acceptance
of the new formula: “You had the Brocks, Johnsons,
Grices and so on and they were all coming up to their
use-by dates and they were very critical to the move to
V8s because had they not been part of it we would still
be trying to do it.”
For the two teams that battled for the lead, Bathurst
1994 also signalled the beginning of new eras. DJR has
still to win Bathurst again and in recent times has tee-
tered on the edge of extinction more than once.
But right then it was at its best. With Ross and
Jimmy Stone calling the shots, the factory Ford team
had bounced back from a poor start to the season to
win the Sandown 500 as it mastered its new shock
dyno and developed Penske dampers into a key race-
At Bathurst the pace was strong enough for the nor-
mally taciturn Ross Stone to predict victory. The only
setback came when Johnson grazed the wall in the
Cutting in the Shootout, which meant an overnight
repair job and 10th starting position on the grid.
Bowe and Johnson both drove brilliantly the next
day, Dick setting the fastest lap during a strong mid-
race stint. Bowe was at his peak, something underlined
when he went on to win the championship in 1995.
“It was one of Dick’s best drives while I was involved
in the team,” recalls Stone. “John was always on
the money and Dick was in the twilight. It was such
a strong combination... then that bugger Lowndes
popped his head up.”
Adds Bowe: “I can still feel that hollow feeling in my
guts when he went around the outside of me. It really
twisted me up inside...
“I have done hundreds of races since then and
Bathurst ’94 is still fresh in my mind. I think it is prob-
ably because we had had a difficult period as a team, we
had a really good group of people together at that stage
and it was a tough battle.
“And I haven’t managed to win it since, so I guess
that’s why it became so important.”
For HRT, Bathurst 1994 was further evidence of
its transition from joke to serious contender. Once it
gained momentum it didn’t stop there, becoming the
Scan to watch Lowndes’
famous pass around the
outside of Bowe in the
final stint of the 1994
ABove: Lowndes’ stunning
debut in the #015 car
overshadowed the return of
brock (#05) to the factory
V8X83 p58-62 Bathurst 1994.indd 59
5/9/14 3:45:52 PM
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