Saturday Sleuthing: New Old Mail!

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 27/04/2013
  • By V8 Sleuth

John Bowe’s black Ozemail colours are back on this Falcon, but it’s a story with a twist.

Returning former V8 Supercars to their former liveries is becoming all the rage at the moment and Ford fans will love the news that one of the distinctive Ozemail Falcons run by Brad Jones Racing is the latest.

But there’s a twist to the tale.

Katoomba (New South Wales) racer John Vergotis has been a regular in the V8 Touring Car Series – which runs as part of the Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals – since it started back in 2008 for ex-V8 Supercars.

Initially he ran an ex-Glenn Seton/Ford Tickford Racing Falcon AU, though in a bid to stay more competitive he sold that last year and updated to an ex-BJR BA model Falcon for his 2013 racing return.

Vergotis’ initial feeling had been to restore the car to its BOC colours, but in the end he elected to revert to the colours of BJR’s sponsor prior to BOC: Ozemail.

His car was raced by Brad Jones as the #21 entry, though the white and green colours didn’t quite inspire him, so he has elected to run the black and green livery John Bowe carried on sister cars.

Vergotis is fully aware his car – BJR 05 (the second BA Falcon built by the team from a Peter Beehag shell) – never carried the black and green ‘Bowe’ colours during its time with BJR, but there’s no doubt it looks unbelievably distinctive and captures the eye far better than the green and white did!

Vergotis' BJR 05 in Bowe colours

And kudos to BJR as well, for assisting Vergotis with the original sticker files from the period to help get the livery correct.

This car, which has competed in two rounds of the V8 Touring Car Series already this year at Sydney Motorsport Park and Mallala – and will next run at Winton on June 22-23 – has a long and storied life, which also includes playing part in the downfall of Peter Brock’s last Bathurst campaign.

BJR 05 first debuted in Brad Jones’ hands at Albert Park in2003 before being driven by Jones throughout the season, though it was renumbered from #21 to #888 for the endurance races where it was driven by Brad’s nephew Andrew Jones and Scot John Cleland.

Brad Jones debuting BJR 05 at Albert Park in 2003

Brad stepped back into the car (again as #21 in white and green Ozemail colours) in 2004 and again it became the #21 A.Jones/Cleland car for the endurance races. But this time things didn’t go quite as well and the former British Touring Car Champion found himself launched onto his roof when he tripped over a limping Jason Plato in Peter Brock’s HRT Commodore.

Repaired, the car returned in BOC colours in 2005 for Brad Jones to drive but found itself rolling over again – twice! – at Pukekohe and Barbagallo after being part of a 1-2 in the wet with John Bowe in the non-title Albert Park event.

Brad Jones racing BJR 05 in BOC colours - pictured the right way up

This chassis reverted to being the team’s spare for the second part of ’05 (after Dale Brede had raced it in the HPDC Series round at Mallala) through to early 2007 when it was leased for a few rounds by Britek Motorsport and became Jason Bright’s Fujitsu Falcon after he’d had an accident in Practice in Perth.

In fact, it was essentially a chassis filled full of Bright’s ‘bits’ – by the time Britek was finished preparing it to race it only retained the steering wheel, fuel tank, rear view mirror and wiring from BJR.

Jason Bright at Pukekohe

It was stripped of Britek bits and returned to BJR before being sold to Dean Neville and run by Terry Wyhoon’s Image Racing in the Development Series.

In fact, this car then found itself a place in history at a wet Oran Park in 2007 when Owen Kelly won a Fujitsu Series race in it – after starting last in the pit lane and having to pass 33 cars in 16 laps to do it!

Owen Kelly in the Fujitsu Series

Neville made infrequent Development Series starts in the car over the next season or so before it was placed up for sale, though not before he’d run the car in the Winton round of the V8 Touring Car Series in 2010.

It was purchased by Mark Shepherd (race fans attending Winton rounds may have met him without knowing him given he runs the Warby Lodge in Wangaratta) for the 2011 V8 Touring Car Series and again prepared by Image Racing, who again ran him in the same car last year.

He took pole and won a race in it at Mallala before engine dramas sidelined him, though things got worse at Winton when he crashed heavily at turn three, prompting his withdrawal from the series.

Eventually the car was secured by Vergotis, who set about having it repaired and re-liveried in time for his return to the emerging V8TC category in the opening round of 2013.

He secured the #12 plate and put the car ‘back to John Bowe black’, finishing it just before heading to Sydney Motorsport Park for its first race meeting in his hands.


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