11 May 2015 | General


JOHN BOWE will race a Holden in the third round of the ENZED Touring Car Masters series this weekend at Winton Raceway in Victoria.

Yes you read that correctly: Ford hero John Bowe driving a Holden!

The three-time TCM champion will trade his famous Mustang ‘Sally’ in for the weekend to instead drive a brand-new Holden Torana SL/R 5000 recently completed by the Bendigo Retro Muscle Cars team headed up by long-time TCM competitor Gary O’Brien.

And though he raced Volvos and Nissans in the Australian Touring Car Championship / Bathurst 1000 before linking with Dick Johnson’s iconic Ford team in 1988 and made his TCM debut in a Chevrolet Camaro twenty years later this weekend will be the first time that he’ll have driven a Holden in competitive anger during his career.

‘Gary (O’Brien) is a good friend of mine and I’ve been talking to him throughout the construction of the car offering some thoughts about what it should and shouldn’t be and I always agreed that I’d be happy to help test it – as I’ve done for a lot of people in the category†Bowe said.

“He then asked ‘would you be interested in driving it at Winton?’.  

“Because we missed the last round in Tassie and we don’t drop the worst round any more I thought it’d be a good thing because I’ve got nothing to lose – so I said ‘yeah why not!’.â€Â

Bowe said he wasn’t fussed about jumping to the opposite side of the famous Aussie brand battle.

“I had opportunities (to drive a Holden) during my V8 career but didn’t more out of loyalty to Dick (Johnson) than anything else.

“Ford fans are very loyal but I think the Muscle Car era is for car lovers rather than about fierce brand loyalty. People just love seeing the old cars out their being driven like they should and I love doing it.  

“This is all a bit of an adventure and I’m actually quite excited about it!â€Â

The 1995 ATCC champion and double Bathurst 1000 winner said he’d always been keen to get behind the wheel of Holden’s iconic Torana muscle car since first watching it race in the mid-1970s.

“I was a big fan of the Torana when I was a young bloke†Bowe admitted.

“I thought it was a horn little Muscle Car so I’ve always wanted to have a go in one.

“Gary and his team have done an amazing job building the car – they’ve even gone to the lengths of getting the original ‘hounds tooth’ trim into the inserts of the race seats.

“It’s got all the original glass proper wind up windows and RARE Spares have been pretty involved in getting bits and pieces for it.

“Gary Travis Langham who built it and Lyndon Little who did all the engineering and the engine are all Holden tragics – which is pretty funny for me coming from so long in the Ford world!

“The biggest challenge has probably been getting all of my loyal sponsors onto the car – Scott Yorston from SS Media has done a super job making the Mustang livery work on a smaller car.â€Â

Bowe says he is looking forward to the chance to the opportunity to help develop a new car – and something different from his usual ride.

“The Torana is very very different. I’ve driven a lot of TCM cars and a lot of them have similar characteristics. The Torana feels quite different quite small and has different traits which I haven’t fully understood yet.

“I’m quite happy with the speed and very happy with the Holden engine. The other Torana’s have Chevy’s which is down to parts availability but Gary has run HQs with Holden 308s for years and still has lots of good stuff left over. It’s very good.â€Â

Bowe will tackle three races in the Torana at Winton this weekend with the tight confines of the 3km circuit two hours north of Melbourne expected to suit the lighter more nimble Holdens.

The Tasmanian legend says he is keen to tackle a new racing challenge this weekend.

“Forget the brand on the front. It’s a new car and always been a bit of a fan of learning cars†he said.

“When Garry Cooper put me in the Elfin I learned a lot. Then working with the likes of John Sheppard Neal Lowe at DJR and then of course the Stone Brothers – I’ve always loved learning that part of it and understanding how things work in the cars.

“I’m not expecting any miracles but I like the car. I’ve already had a little drive and changed a few things but I wouldn’t say we’ve refined it but we will. It takes a fair bit of driving for to make it feel like your own pair of shoes!â€Â

The third round of the 2015 ENZED Touring Car Masters Series – The Rare Spares Rose City Trophy – will be held alongside this weekend’s fourth event of the 2015 V8 Supercars Championship season the Winton Raceway Super sprint.

The May 15-17 event will see the TCM cars tackle three races across the weekend with all three to be broadcast live on FOX Sports Motorsport on Channel 506.