Today, 22 years ago, on Sunday October 2, 1994, Hall of Famers Dick Johnson and John Bowe drove to victory at Bathurst in the Tooheys 1000.
The win was Johnson’s third victory at Mount Panorama and Bowe’s second after the duo had teamed up to win in a turbo Sierra five years earlier.
The 1994 victory – aboard the team’s #17 Shell-FAI Racing Ford Falcon EB – was also the first Bathurst 1000 win by a Falcon V8 since Johnson himself had claimed his very first win in ‘The Great Race’ alongside John French in the accident-shortened 1981 race.
It was Bowe who was at the wheel at both the start and end of the race; initially coping with the slippery conditions after starting 10th on the grid, and eventually holding out a young debutante Craig Lowndes in the run to the flag.
But only after the young HRT gun – in his first Bathurst 1000 appearance – out-braked Bowe around the outside at Griffins Bend and took the lead of the race.
“All the furore about Craig Lowndes passing me at the end of the straight was great, but earlier on I’d actually caught and passed him and driven away from him,” Bowe recalled some years later.
“But Brad Jones did the majority of the work that day – he was the unsung hero of the car and dragged it up from nowhere.
“When we got the last pace car, we were using tyre bleeders in those days, so the pressures had dropped as it had bled out when the tyres got over-pressured.
“So when we re-started the race, my thing was very doughy because it took forever to get the tyre pressures up again. That’s why he got to have a run at me. Once they came up again, I put the pressure on him and slipped past him because, essentially, we had a faster car.
“What went through my mind when he passed me was ‘I’ve come this far and I’m going to lose the race’! But once the tyre pressures came on I was all over him like a cheap suit. He was getting more and more ragged and he was either going to crash or I was going to get past him
“When you win Bathurst, you win because you’ve got the best car and the best team and that’s why we won that year and also in 1989.”
On this day 22 years ago the Mountain was awash with rain for the early stages of the race that made for a soggy start to the biggest day on the Australia motorsport calendar.
Already there had been sadness in the lead-up with privateer Commodore driver Don Watson losing his life in a practice accident at Caltex Chase.
There had also been discontent in the pit and paddock over the Holden Racing Team and the front suspension towers of Peter Brock’s new #05 Commodore.
Add to that a swath of competitors unhappy at Brock being offered a $100,000 bonus if he could claim his 10th Bathurst win and there was plenty of feeling in the lead-up to the 1000-kilometre classic.
But the bonus went out the window late in the race anyway when Brock crashed out at Reid Park, severely crunching his Mobil-backed Commodore in his return to the Mountain representing the Holden factory.
As history shows, the win for Johnson and Bowe remains the last time the famous Queensland team took victory in the Bathurst 1000.
Second place went to Lowndes and Brad Jones in the second HRT car, the latter turning in a brilliant drive all day to haul them back from being virtually a lap behind into contenders for victory.
The final podium place went to the Castrol Commodore of Larry Perkins and the late Gregg Hansford, who sadly was killed just months later at Phillip Island in early 1995.
While Lowndes grabbed the headlines on this day 22 years ago, there was a range of other drivers arriving or departing the Mountain.
On the day Dick Johnson claimed his third and final Bathurst win, his son Steven made his debut in the Shell-FAI team’s second Ford.
Paired with veteran Allan Grice he finished seventh, one spot behind Colin Bond who made his final Bathurst start in the second Winfield Holden alongside Swede Anders Olofsson.
A very young Kiwi Greg Murphy was another new fresh young face and he made his Bathurst 1000 debut in a two-litre Toyota Carina alongside Brit James Kaye.
They finished a delayed 23rd overall and fifth in the two-litre class, which was won by the Diet-Coke BMW of Paul Morris and German Altfrid Heger and finished an impressive 10th overall.
Some big names came unstuck at Bathurst on this day in 1994.
Both of Glenn Seton’s Peter Jackson team cars – including his own pole-sitting Falcon – retired with engine issues, Wayne Gardner crashed his Coke Commodore out on oil and 1994 Australian Touring Car Champion Mark Skaife crashed in the tricky wet conditions early in the race.
All up a total of 26 cars were classified as finishers from the 45 that started.
The 1994 race was the final time the V8s and two-litre cars competed together at Bathurst as V8 Commodores and Falcons exclusively filled the following year’s race.