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John Bowe steps down from TCM competition at the end of 2023

Veteran racer John Bowe step back from contesting full-time competition at the end of 2023.

Currently racing in the popular Touring Car Masters category in a Holden Torana SL/R 5000, Bowe’s achievements include the 1995 Australian Touring Car Championship, two Bathurst 1000s, back-to-back Australian Drivers’ Championships and an Australian Sports Car Championship in the mighty Veskanda.

Bowe completed his early career in open-wheelers after debuting in Formula Vee at Baskerville, Tasmania in 1971.

With the help of Elfin founder Garrie Cooper, Bowe focused on competing on the mainland where he raced the fast yet fragile Formula 5000s. Enjoying a close rivalry with Alfredo Costanzo, Bowe failed to defeat his chief rival during the closing stages of the Formula 5000 era to win the Australian Drivers’ Championship although he emerged as a frontrunner.

Bowe did take back-to-back titles when under Formula Mondial rules in 1984 and 1985 as he also dabbled in sports cars, winning the Australian title in the aforementioned Veskanda in 1986.

At this time Bowe joined the Mark Petch led Volvo team to partner Robbie Francevic at Sandown and Bathurst in 1985 leading to the team becoming a factory operation the next season where a second 240 Turbo was built up for the Tasmanian later in the season.

Bowe’s touring car transition was complete although the Volvo Dealer Team was dissolved at the end of 1986, a limited campaign the following season with the Fred Gibson Peter Jackson Nissan squad led to a strong finish at Bathurst.

However, success was to come as he replaced Gregg Hansford at Dick Johnson Racing to partner the legendary driver whose name the team wore. Arriving at a time when DJR was at its zenith, Bowe and Dick Johnson dominated the ATCC for three seasons.

The entering of a new era bred more success for the Shell-supported squad as Bowe won the first round of 1993 in his Ford V8 Falcon, winning the title two years later despite the fact tyre supplier Dunlop was struggling after the Kobe earthquake.

Splitting with DJR at the end of 1998, Bowe moved to Western Australian-based PAE Motorsport in its CAT Ford Falcon. The sale of the team to Queenslander John Briggs before the season was out led to a challenging period for Bowe as he achieved just the one win.

After leaving the team in 2001, Bowe found a new home at Brad Jones Racing though success continued to elude him as it did in his final season at Paul Cruickshank Racing.

Retiring at the end of 2007, Bowe clocked up 469 race starts, 31 wins, 92 podiums and 23 poles.

Moving into Touring Car Masters for older specification cars, Bowe has won six titles since 2009 enjoying entertaining rivalries with the likes of Jim Richards, Andrew Miedecke, Steve Johnson and Glenn Seton.

Bowe will continue to race in historics and the Bathurst 6 Hour where he raced a FPV GT-F last year.

“I love Touring Car Masters. It has been and continues to be a very important part of my life, both in Motorsport and beyond that,” said Bowe.

“I have spoken before about how important it was to go back to racing following my retirement from Supercars in 2007 and it was TCM that filled that hole in my life for me. I’ve had an incredible time, made many new friends and been able to compete with many old ones along the way.

“The racing is sensational; the cars are great to drive and the competition is fantastic but the vibe in the paddock is the best thing about it. It’s great fun car racing. Everyone is enthusiastic and the fans love the category which makes it all the better to turn up at each round knowing you’re putting on a show people enjoy watching.

“This year felt like the right time to step back from the full-time campaign and have a look at some other things I want to do in motorsport.

“I’ll go racing with my mate Joe (Calleja) in historic racing, do some endurance races I enjoy like the Bathurst 6 Hour and other bits and pieces.

“I’m not retiring: I probably won’t ever retire. It’s just ‘ciao for now’ from TCM in a sense of competing in every round.

“I’m not ruling out more racing in the category: If someone throws me the keys to a car for a round here or there I’d find it impossible to say no!”

“I’m really looking forward to the season ahead to say thanks to the fans, the fellow racers, the sponsors, the supporters, and everyone who has supported my 15-odd years in the category.

“Starting in Tasmania and at Symmons Plains, the place where I started watching racing as a kid, will be especially special and I hope everyone gets out to that event in February.

“I really want to say thank you to all the people who have supported my time in the category, and my racing in general. It’s been a fantastic and very important part of my life.

“I hope all the fans and long-time followers and friends come to as many rounds they can in 2023 and come and say Hello and ‘Ciao for now’.”