Home' Supercar Xtra : April May 2015 Issue 86 Contents 76
car. That 1994 Bathurst car became an EF
but it was still a good car, so we were com-
petitive all year and we were in the hunt.
Seto, myself and (Peter) Brock could’ve
won it. It was good, and I was obviously
meant to win it. Other years, when I was in
a position to win it, things would go wrong
or something would happen or whatever,
so I’ve only won one Australian Touring Car
Championship, which I guess is more than
some, but I probably could’ve won more if
the stars had aligned.
In that race all you really needed to do
was finish in front of Seton and Brock as
well, but more so Seton. However, you
went out there and dominated, went for
the win. Does that typify your style?
It probably did at the time, but it’s not
now. I’ve always been a racer’s racer. I think
driving around percentage driving is not
really what racing’s about, so I always try
and have a crack, even in the Touring Car
I just thought if I go and win, the car was
good, the car was competitive, if I can win
the thing, I’ll win it, then it puts it beyond
doubt, so I did. And the car was awesome.
I think it’s probably the best car I’ve ever
driven, and that was a combination of
Dunlop tyres because it was a free-tyre cat-
We used to test for Dunlop and they, in
that period in 1995, had some really great
tyres. It was their victory as well as ours
because early in the year we tested our tyres
and they were good, and then they had an
earthquake at their factory in Kobe. We
looked like not having any tyres, so they dug
up all the moulds out of the rubble, sent
them to England, and the English built us
tyres in the Japanese moulds.
It was a serious commitment to make sure
we had every chance. It was pivotal. If we
hadn’t had that happen, we would’ve been
on the back foot because Bridgestone made
some pretty good tyres.
It seemed you would officially take over
as the lead driver when Dick retired. So
why did you leave the team on the brink
of that at the end of 1998?
The mechanic on my car, a guy called Les
Laidlaw, went to Western Australia to
work for a bloke who started a V8 team,
Kevin Otway. And we were sponsored by
Caterpillar and they made some approaches
to me and it sounded terrific.
Like always, I look at the optimistic side
of things, sometimes to my detriment. So
I thought, Stevie J was coming along and
he was lurking in the background. I just
thought, Steven will get a shot at it, so I was
sold on this idea of the Caterpillar team but
unfortunately Stevie didn’t get the drive.
They got (Paul) Radisich because they
wanted a known factor. They should’ve got
Stevie to drive but didn’t. So I flew across to
Western Australia about a hundred times,
and the team started off okay.
I think I got a podium in the first three
or four rounds or something and we were
going okay with equipment that was pretty
basic stuff, built out of Harrop components,
custom engine off someone, stuff like that.
We had a good little group but Otway
was having some financial problems and
Caterpillar was getting the heebie jeebies,
because they thought that CAT Racing was
about to go broke, so then I arranged for
John Briggs, a car dealer I knew who’d been
in racing for a long time, to buy the team
and move it to Queensland.
But it didn’t quite gel after that; a couple
of key people left and, while we had good
times, we had less than we should have.
Like the 2001 Bathurst 1000. We had a
car that could’ve won but we didn’t. We had
Simon Wills, who was a very quick driver,
and he made an ambitious pass and bent a
front upright on it, which buggered our race.
The car was good enough to win, though.
It’s just one of those things, so there are lots
of good things about the Caterpillar days but
it didn’t really fulfil the promise it should’ve
done... I don’t think, anyway.
Were you perhaps a bit regretful that you
left Dick Johnson Racing in the end?
Yeah, I don’t have any regret, really. I’ve said
it to Dick a hundred times. I shouldn’t have
left because the AUs they built, they lost
their way with development and I would’ve
helped on that because I’ve always been a bit
of a tech-head.
Radisich turned up and he was fast but he
didn’t know anything about V8 Supercars,
really, so the development stalled a bit. They
had a bit of a lean time for a while.
Bowe struggled for results during his stint with CAT Racing.
A move to Brad Jones Racing
helped the Albury-based team’s
V8 Supercars development.
V8X86 p70-77 John Bowe.indd 76
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