A legend of Australian motor sport, Coates Hire ambassador, John Bowe is a multiple Australian Champion, having twice won the Australian Drivers' Championship during the Formula Mondial era and securing an Australian Sports Car Championship, before winning the Australian Touring Car Championship in 1995.
John’s record-breaking V8 Supercar career spanned 22 years, while his 35 year career achievements are recorded in the history books. He is also an inductee into the V8 Supercars Hall of Fame.
John now races in the Touring Car Masters (TCM) and 2011 culminated in a highly successful race season by his winning the TCM Championship.
John experienced an episode of depression leading up to and following his retirement from the sport of V8 Supercars and subsequently he became a beyondblue ambassador to share his story and the road to recovery.
When I got started in motorsport at the age of 15 with my dad back in the early 70’s never did I think motorsport would turn into a career … now four decades later and I’m still at it, I guess it just happen along the way.
It's been an amazing journey, I hope doesn’t end for a little while yet, I’ve got a few more things I’d like to achieve before I pull the garage shutter on my career. I plan to migrate back to slower cars as the year’s role on.
Looking back, in the early days I got a couple of good opportunities and took them with both hands. Racing in Tassie as a kid was great, the opportunity to race on the mainland as us Tasmanian’s call it came by way of Elfin Racing Cars founder - Garrie Cooper.
Garrie saw something in me, it was one of those life changing events that happen, and I guess its destiny isn’t it. Fortunately for me it happened when it did and what a fantastic opportunity it became.
I drove a works Elfin in the National series, that in turn gave me exposure and after fourteen years as an open wheel racer I got a gig in a touring car. I often joke I was an overnight sensation that took almost a decade and a half to be discovered.
Throughout my racing life of forty four seasons and nearly 1000 races I have had lots of help, plenty of guidance and so much benevolence. It has given me the strength to keep going through the good times and the not so good times. Motorsport is like life, you have your ups and downs.
I have made some incredible relationships too, in a commercial sense, companies that have started out purely as sponsors (to promote their brand/product) and it has grown into friendship. Likewise their customers, a classic case is my relationship with Coates Hire who I met through my long association with Westrac, the distributor of Caterpillar.
I was introduced to Coates Hire by a mutual Westrac buddy and quickly found their customers were on my wave length, mostly blokes with the occasional female who lived in the machinery world, loved cars and motorsport. It was a marriage made in heaven. Since then the Coates Hire world has become my world and with their customers we have a massive affinity with motorsport that warms my heart.
In the mid 2000s I suffered badly with depression and it deepened as my V8 Supercars career came to a close. At that point it crippled me and bought me to my knees. With the help of friends, doctors and the organization beyondblue I recovered over time, thank god and was able to continue my motor racing life.
Since those dark times I have subsequently become a beyondblue ambassador and I do what I can to help fellow depressives. It's an increasingly common plight for many Australians. It's very scary and any help I can give, story I can share could have an impact on another sufferer.
If you know someone who is exhibiting signs of depression, seek medical help or contact me at email@example.com and I will encourage them to seek help.
Never feel that no one understands, help is so close!
Now, while I know I am no spring chicken or even a spring lamb, I love motorsport and the people who love motorsport. With the advent of social media I’m now able to stay more engaged with the motorsport world and its many enthusiasts.
In the early days Id often ask why people spend so much time on facebook, guess who is guilty these days? It’s a great way for me to share my world and communicate with those who support and follow my crazy world. I understand it now.
I hope I get the opportunity to meet all Coates Hire customers and staff as I travel around this great country … usually it’s at a race circuit or a branch visit. My relationship with Coates Hire and its people is very special to me.