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HomeNewsStrange But True: Bowe won a race by ignoring a black flag

Strange But True: Bowe won a race by ignoring a black flag

QUEENSLAND Raceway’s inaugural Supercars Championship event in 1999 was anything but dull.

There were roll-overs in practice and racing, a sudden rainstorm that led to a controversial red flag, a spectacular multi-car crash on the first corner of the first race, and severe tyre graining that led to varying form throughout the three races.

Through it all came Garth Tander, who scored his first ATCC/Supercars round victory off the back of his first championship race win in Race 3.

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But while history still documents Tander as the round winner, it is John Bowe who is recorded as the victor of the final race of the weekend.

The topic came up through a listener question on Ep. 102 of the V8 Sleuth Podcast in 2021, while Garth Tander said the loss of the race win still bemused him when he made his second appearance on the podcast in 2024.

Bowe was first across the line but had been shown a black flag, accused of passing Tander for the lead at the end of Lap 14 of 17 under yellow flags for privateer Chris Smerdon’s bunkered Holden at the final corner.

The yellow flag is visible at the marshal’s point to the right of frame as Bowe lines up his pass on Tander. Pic: Supercars/Kayo Sports

The CAT Racing driver was shown the black flag at the start of the next two laps – after the race he said he saw it on only one of those occasions – but stayed out on track to the finish of the race, when he was greeted with the chequered flag.

Officials hung out the black flag and the #600 on the board as Bowe completed Lap 15. Pic: Supercars/Kayo Sports

He was initially fined $1000 and excluded from the race, but immediately flagged his intention to appeal.

“I’m appealing to CAMS (Confederation of Australian Motorsport, now Motorsport Australia) over the severity of the punishment and if that is unsuccessful I’ll take it to the highest court in the land,” Bowe told Issue 157 of Motorsport News, which you can now read in full online.

He also cited a precedent set a few races earlier at Phillip Island: Mark Noske ignored a black flag for contact with Paul Radisich in Race 3 but ultimately retained his seventh-place finish and instead received two separate fines for each offence.

Bowe had taken the inaugural pole position at Queensland Raceway and was classified fifth for the round after his Race 3 reinstatement. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

Bowe had his day in court – well, his day in the CAMS Appeals Tribunal – on the eve of the following round at Calder Park.

And he won! Courtesy of a technicality…

“Sources have revealed the displaying of the black flag was not recorded in the stewards’ notes, and therefore according to the letter of the law charges had to be dropped and Bowe reinstated as the race winner,” reported Auto Action.

Both CAMS and Tander’s team boss Garry Rogers indicated their intent to appeal the verdict to the Australian Motor Sport Appeals Court, but in the end Bowe’s victory went unchallenged.

The win was the 31st and last championship race victory of Bowe’s Hall of Fame career, his only victory outside of Dick Johnson Racing and the first race victory for PAE Motorsport, which subsequently became Briggs Motorsport, then Triple Eight Race Engineering.

Bowe’s reinstatement didn’t impact the top-three results for the round – which at the time determined the podium – meaning Tander retained his maiden round victory. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

Although Tander was relegated to second place behind Bowe at Queensland Raceway, the then-rising star didn’t have to wait long for his first official championship race victory; he chalked up ATCC/Supercars career race win #1 in the final race of the Calder Park round.

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