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Bowe opens up on end of TCM chapter

AUSTRALIAN motorsport legend John Bowe has explained his decision to retire from full-time Touring Car Masters competition.

Last weekend’s Adelaide 500 marked his final start in the category and it was not without trouble, his Torana breaking down on the eve of the Sunday race.

Bowe was able to make the grid after rival Jim Pollicina stepped aside, but a Safety Car-filled, “anti-climactic” last hurrah ensued.

“Really, it was a lot of effort for not much racing. That’s life,” the two-time Bathurst 1000 winner told Castrol Motorsport News Podcast co-host Stefan Bartholomaeus.

“I’ve been really touched by people this weekend that have come out and said they’ve followed me for 40 years; it’s pretty amazing, so I’m really grateful for it.

“And I’m not actually going to retire from racing, I’m just not going to try to chase championships and all that.

“I want to do some racing still and I will do some racing still, but chasing a championship in TCM is pretty serious stuff and there’s a few other things I want to do.”

The 69-year-old, who also hinted at post-COVID difficulties on the sponsorship front, has been confirmed to contest the new GT4 Australia Series next year alongside Jacob Lawrence aboard a BMW F82 M4.

TCM though has had a special place in Bowe’s life.

“I’ve made no secret of this: when I stopped racing Supercars I became progressively more depressed and anyone that has been depressed knows what it’s like. It became almost life-threatening,” he said.

“I was encouraged into TCM by several good friends, supportive friends, and by Tony Hunter who was the boss of TCM for a long time, he was one of the founders.

“It really gave me something to enjoy and the cars are terrific to race and the people are great. We’ve had some good times and bad times of course, but it has really been a great life.

John Bowe in Adelaide. Pic: Ross Gibb

“I love it and I’d love to do the odd one-off race next year, which I may or may not do.

“I don’t race TCM cars to win races, I race TCM cars to satisfy my addiction for racing more than anything else, and I have won a lot of races which is great. Obviously winning is better than not winning, but it’s not the reason I do it, it’s not the end of the world if I don’t win.

“So it has been terrific for me and the cars are really challenging to drive.

“They have got zero aero and they have got Supercar horsepower and tyres that are four inches narrower than a Supercar and brakes that are 100mm smaller. So they’re not a toy and the top end of the field are really good operators.

“I’m sort of sad but not sad. I’m glad I have got something else to do next year. GT4 I think is a good category, it’s getting some legs.

“There is talk of up to 25 cars, certainly 18 definitely, and they are unbelievable cars, like they come from the factory and you don’t do anything to them other than move the pedals closer to you, they’re just incredible. So I will have to get my head around it.”

Steven Johnson, the son of Bowe’s long-time teammate Dick, paid tribute to the popular veteran.

“It’s a sad moment,” Johnson, who sealed his fourth TCM title, told V8 Sleuth.

“I mean, I’m sure we’ll see John back and doing maybe a bit of a cameo here and there in the category – I hope we do – but I think everyone is going to really miss him.

“I think people underestimate, until the time has come for them to leave, they underestimate the value certain individuals bring to certain categories.

“John has been a massive supporter of Touring Car Masters for a long time now, he’s the most successful Touring Car Masters driver that’s ever been and probably ever will.

“To have someone like him that’s not there week in and week out for all rounds is going to be sad. But he will be around.

“He certainly won’t be a stranger, I’m sure you’re going to see him around, but if he’s not out there every round for the six rounds it’s going to feel a bit weird.”

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