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Ripping Yarns: Steven Johnson’s NZ taxi service

V8 SLEUTH is celebrating the festive season with a series of great racing tales from the Motorsport News archives.

Today’s story was told by John Bowe for the 400th edition of MN in 2010.

I’ve always been very serious about my racing, but I’m not serious about much else.

Away from the racetrack, I’ve had some fantastic fun with the people I’ve worked with, and for me, that’s been a big part of it.

There’s been a lot of camaraderie, laughing and fun – and I’m not so sure that there’s too much of that left in V8 Supercars these days!

The time I had with Dick Johnson Racing and the Shell team was a lot of fun.

Something that comes to mind is those times… we used to go the New Zealand every year after the Australian season to do the Wellington and Pukekohe races.

A few of us went, such as Peter Brock, and there was a contingent of good local drivers over there as well.

One year – it would have been about 1990 – we’d raced at Wellington, and we went up to Auckland on the Monday to get ready for Pukekohe.

It was basically a week off, and Steve Johnson had come with Dick and I to keep us company because he was a mad-keen racing fan.

He would have been about 14, and even then there was never any doubt about what he was going to do with his life.

So we arrived in Auckland, and we decided we go and have some lunch, because Dick and I both enjoy a nice glass of wine.

We were at a restaurant right on the wharf called Chin Chin. Steven came with us, and Dick and I had a few beers, and then some food, and then some wine, and them some more wine.

Bowe and Johnson at Oran Park in 1988. Pic: an1images.com / Graeme Neander

We ended up staying a bit long, and we were staying up near the airport, so the only option was to get Steve to drive us home.

So there was two of Australia’s best racing drivers – arguably – at the time, with a 14-year-old kid driving us around. It was very funny.

It became a bit of a ritual. After that, we went there every year and it was great fun.

Another year, we had a Ford Telstar that Ford New Zealand had loaned us, and we must have parked in the wrong sport because as we walked out after lunch, we saw the Telstar disappearing on the back of a tow truck!

MORE: John Bowe on the V8 Sleuth Podcast

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