A true legend of Australian motorsport, John Bowe is the only driver in history to win the Australian Driver’s Championship, the Australian Sports Car Championship and the Australian Touring Car Championship.
Kicking off his stellar career at the age of 16, Bowe began racing Formula Vee in 1971, winning the Tasmanian state title on debut. The following year, the dynamic young Tasmanian took the Formula Ford title in his home state.
Like most racers, Bowe honed his craft in open-wheelers during the early phase of his career and his obvious talent was recognised on the national stage with victories in the Australian Drivers Championship (Gold Star) in 1984 and 1985, and runner-up in 1979, 1980, 1982 and 1983.
Making his touring car debut in 1985 at the Sandown 500, Bowe quickly asserted himself as a first class driver in the country’s premier racing category and earned his first full-time touring car drive for 1986, in which he qualified on the front row in his first event and took pole in only the second round.
Further establishing his outstanding reputation, Bowe finished second alongside Glenn Seton in the 1987 Bathurst event.
Bowe’s now famous association with Ford started in 1988 when he joined the Dick Johnson Racing (DJR) team; a partnership that was instantly successful, delivering second place in the Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC).
The Ford hero again claimed second spot in the ATCC series plus his first Bathurst victory in 1989, and followed up with a second Bathurst win in 1994 with the Dick Johnson squad.
In a display of supreme domination with pole position and two race wins in the final round of 1995, Bowe finally secured the ATCC crown at Oran Park, beating main rival Peter Brock to the chequered flag.
Continuing his unbeatable form, Bowe and team owner, Johnson joined forces to win the Eastern Creek 12-Hour event later that same year. Consistently a front runner at the pinnacle of Australian motorsport, Bowe was again the runner up in the 1996 and 1997 touring car championships.
At the end of the 1998 season, Bowe stunned the industry by announcing he was leaving the Dick Johnson Racing team, ending their successful 11-year partnership.
In 1999, he joined the newly formed Caterpillar Falcon team and despite a change of ownership along the way, the vastly experienced and talented Bowe produced many strong performances during his three year stint.
Ford’s 2001 Bathurst stars, Brad Jones Racing provided Bowe with a new opportunity and a new direction as the Albury-based team decided to expand to a two car operation in 2002 – in return, Bowe immediately transformed the team with outstanding results in the 2002 season.
Spending five years in the Jones’ team, with highlights that included a podium in the 2004 Bathurst 1000, Bowe continued to flaunt his immense speed and ability despite challenges from a new wave of enthusiastic, young drivers.
For the 2007 season, Bowe has joined forces with Brisbane-based V8 Supercar team, Paul Cruickshank Racing (PCR) in a relationship that re-unites the Ford driver with Paul Cruickshank, Bowe’s former mechanic at DJR now turned team owner.
Re-writing the record books, Bowe is reaching numerous milestones in 2007, including the most number of ATCC starts in which he surpassed Peter Brock’s tally and claim the record outright in round two in WA (213).
Retiring from full-time V8 Supercar racing at the end of 2007, Bowe joined other big names like Jim Richards in the Touring Car Masters Series. 2008 saw Bowe also dabble a little in the GT Series, winning races in a Ferrari and a Lambourghini, as well as competing in the Bathurst 12 hour. 2010, for the first time in his career, he has invested in his own race car, a 1969 Ford Mustang Trans Am which made its debut at Clipsal.