John Bowe Full Throttle at Wakefield Park

Yesterday kicked off with an easy couple of hours driving to Goulburn, about 150km outside of Sydney. Wakefield Park, one of the country’s best and most exciting race tracks is located just outside Australia’s first inland city, and it was the stage for an amazing day of driving, rubbing shoulders with racing royalty, and showing some very excited media the experience of their lives.

The occasion was to help launch the new premium RedBalloon experience from V8Race, John Bowe’s Octane Dreams. Bowe is an Australian racing legend, having won Bathurst three times (and runner-up six), in a motorsport career spanning four decades. And he’s a genuine good guy of the sport with plenty of time and patience to chat to fans in between getting his V8 Ford sideways at high speed around the track.

During a delicious lunch infused with octane fumes, John wandered amongst the tables chatting to participants and telling the odd yarn, which continued during the Q&A session where he shared childhood motoring stories from growing up in Tasmania, to tales of building his career to race alongside motorsport greats like Peter Brock and Dick Johnson. We were also lucky enough to have current V8 supercar driver Amber Anderson there on the day sharing her experience as a woman in a man’s world. Amber took one of the V8s for a spin in the afternoon and showed a few of the boys how it’s done.

The master and the apprentice – John and Amber about to go for a spin

Following the entertaining and often hilarious story hour, all particpants were stepped through a serious safety briefing that outlined how and when to brake and accelerate, where and when to shift gears, and what to do in the event of ending up off the black stuff! It’s hard to focus on the theory when you’re champing at the bit to get behind the wheel, but the guys at V8 race take safety very seriously. These are fast, high powered vehicles.

It was then time to “suit up” and grab a helmet before jumping in a queue for either Ford or Holden, and awaiting the chance to get behind the wheel with your very own in-car coach guiding you around the track. A lot of the feedback from the customers was that they’d be returning again to have another shot – they’d caught the speed bug and wanted to get better and better.

Naomi getting some wardrobe assistance from John before jumping in the hot seat

Once the eight self-drive laps were completed, it was time for some hot laps with John. (The reason for holding the hot laps after the self-drive is so that participants don’t become overly confident and try to push their limits beyond their ability, after seeing how a man with more than thirty years experience operates). A very smart approach in my book after seeing how fast the professionals can peddle around the track!

By the time I took to the course with John the skies had started to open with a light drizzle, which made the surface slippery enough for a very thrilling ride. These guys can drive in almost any conditions, and in my opinion a little moisture on the track made for a more electrifying experience. We surpassed 210kms and hour at top speed – not that watching the speedo was high on my priority list; I was too busy squealing with delight (seriously, watch the video for proof). With no super long straights on the track the speed Bowie managed was more than enough to blow my hair back, before some heavy braking into, and heavier accelarating out of, the six exciting corners on the 2.2km track. Unlike Eastern Creek with straights longer than Bass, Wakefield makes for a more exhilarating ride thanks to the undulations and turns. The final hairpin was my personal favourite. In John’s own words “aside from Bathurst, Wakefield is the best track in Australia for this type of experience.”

Me getting a photo for the pool room

Once all the particpants had packed up and left for the day, we even managed to sneak the little RedBalloon mini onto the track for a spin. I don’t think she’s ever been at that speed before, and probably won’t again! Octane Dreams really is a “money can’t buy” type experience. And as a fan of motorsport who has interviewed the likes of Peter Brock, Jim Richards and Jason White, I can honestly say that John Bowe is a living legend, and a bloody nice guy to boot.

The RedBalloon mini in very safe hands!

Check out my ride with this legend – what a blast!

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