Aussie touring car hero John Bowe started his second millennium of motor races in top style – at the Goodwood Revival.
‘I celebrated my 1000th race last weekend, got on a plane and now here I am – my first Revival. I am a Goodwood virgin, but very pleased to be here at last!’ the two-times Bathurst winner (and six times Bathurst runner-up) told us.
By our reckoning that made his debut in the weekend’s RAC TT Celebration behind the wheel of a 1966 Chevy Corvette Sting Ray his 1001st motor race.
It’s an impressive record for the man synonymous with Ford Falcons Down Under – a record that includes 201 wins, the 1995 Australian V8 Supercar title and those two Bathurst victories in 1989 and ’94, both times partnered with Ford legend Dick Johnson. Not forgetting the six Bathurst runner-up trophies.
‘You have a career as a racing driver and if you love it you keep racing, which is what I am doing. I race as much as I can. I did 22 race meetings last year: the Australian GT Championship in a Bentley, historic racing in a March F1 car, and the Touring Car Masters series in a Mustang. I race all the time and don’t want to stop.’
‘It’s been a bit of an eye-opener for us. There are cars here that are 3-400kg lighter than us. We sort of knew that before we came but we didn’t imagine how developed the cars would be. Our Sting Ray is as it was when it raced in the 1960.
‘Having said that I don’t care because it is just awesome being here.’
From this you will deduce the Joe Calleja-owned ’66 Sting Ray was not at the front of the pack (it came home 24th). Great to see it at Goodwood, though – or see it again we should say, with a large dose of sadness. This was the car Peter Brock was driving at Revival in 2006, three days before he was killed in the Targa West tarmac rally back in Australia.
Apart from racing at Goodwood this year, the ’66 Corvette competes often, in Australia and overseas at places like Laguna Seca, and both Joe and John are very familiar with it – unlike the Goodwood circuit.
‘It’s my first time at Goodwood and I love the old style, and the fact there’s not much run-off area other than grass,’ John told us. ‘It’s fantastic and I have had such a good time.
‘I have also had a good look around – this must be the biggest motoring show on earth. I think I have seen every single car here. I love the 1950s/60s sports racers like the Maserati Birdcage but if I had my pick of any of them I’d take the Ferrari 250 LM – when I was a kid there was an LM racing in Australia and have plenty of happy memories of that.’
John Bowe’s 1001st race might not have ended on the podium but he’s keen to give Revival another crack. ‘I’d love to come back and be more competitive. Maybe in the saloon car race (St Mary’s Trophy). I wouldn’t care what I drove as long as it doesn’t try to kill me.
‘And taking on the Brit touring car blokes would be good…’
Indeed it would. We’ll have a word, John…