BOWE’S LAPS

WE GET A SNEAK PEEK AT THE HECTIC LIFE OF ONE OF AUSTRALIA'S MOST SUCCESSFUL RACE DRIVERS

JOHN BOWE

CALDER 1981

THE 450SLC Benz you see here was a project way ahead of its time, for all sorts of reasons.

Nowadays you hear people talk of crowdfunding, well this was a crowd-funded race car, long before the internet!

It was the brainchild of team manager Peter Fowler and racer Bryan Thomson and involved more or less the entire Shepparton business community in building a sports sedan. I even remember going to a public meeting at the town hall about it.

The engine was innovative, a Chev bottom end with a one-off set of single overhead cam fourvalve heads. That took a lot of engineering talent to create.

The car probably needed a little more development but got some decent results. It was a great opportunity for a young driver like me to get in it, but eventually between two other drives and a job I got too busy and recommended a young Brad Jones should take over.

The car was heavily reworked in later years and won the 1985 GT Championship with Thomson at the wheel. (Autopics photo)

REAL CARS

ONE OF the treats of my job is driving all sorts of sometimes weird and wonderful machinery from the past. The Alfa Romeo GTV you see here is the latest, for the Pastblast series.

I've owned a heap of Alfas over the years and it doesn't take much persuasion to get me in one. The trick is getting the keys back!

They're higher maintenance than a modern car but what I really love is the way you're involved in the drive. You have to think about what you're doing and don't have to break the sound barrier to enjoy it. Great stuff.

COMING UP

IN BETWEEN assorted Touring Car Masters commitments I've got one of my favourite track dates coming up, which is at the Winton Festival of Speed.

That's August 6-8, just after this mag hits the streets.

There I'll get to play with a couple of spectacular toys, including Joe Calleja's very special March F1 car and this, the former Bob Jane Monaro.

The March might have a few years on it (it was built in the 70s) but it's still fierce and fast and Winton is probably just a little on the tight side for it.

The Monaro, meanwhile, runs period rubber, which means your best lap is sometimes the one out of pit lane! Both cars have featured in Unique Cars mag.

It's a great weekend out, with lots of people taking their road cars. Organisers at the VHRR do it well.