Around 150km outside of Sydney lies Wakefield Park – by far one of the country’s best and most exciting racetracks. We were there to complete eight self-drive laps and some hot laps with none other than John Bowe.
The day started with 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.
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. 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.”
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.