Craig Lowndes cops social media blast from ex-wife
THE scars from an ugly divorce were laid bare last week when retiring V8 star Craig Lowndes was forced to defend a bitter attack from ex-wife Natalie accusing him of snubbing his daughter after his last race.
The Supercar champion is now focused on protecting his children.
What should have been the Brisbane-based driver’s retirement glory lap at Townsville last weekend — having just announced he was calling time on his 21-year driving career this season — was overshadowed by the family heartache that bubbled over into social media on Monday.
Lowndes was embroiled in a media storm after his ex-wife Natalie posted an emotional message to her Facebook page slamming the 44-year-old for failing to tell his two children, Levi, 15, and Chilli Blue, 13, of his retirement plans, which they found out on social media.
She added that she and her children drove from Cairns to Townsville to support Lowndes “after seeing the emotional press release on social media”, but said he did not spend time with them. “Thanks for the 2 minutes you spent with our daughter,” she wrote.
While she deleted the post the following day, she stood by her decision to call out her ex-husband, commenting in another post: “The biggest lesson the kids and I have learnt the last couple of days is people don’t want to hear the truth, because they don’t want their illusions destroyed. We understand.”
Two days later Chilli posted to Instagram “One of the hardest parts of life is deciding weather (sic) to walk away or try harder.”
It came days after she had written of her excitement about travelling to Townsville, writing “All my hopes go out to you dad, love ya look forward to seeing you tomorrow”.
After 14 years together, the couple separated in 2011 and Lowndes has since remarried. They have shared custody of the children.
While Lowndes declined to comment on the matter, a spokesman for V8 Supercars told The Courier-Mail: “Craig is prioritising the privacy of his children, who he speaks to on most days and has regular face-to-face contact with. Craig is dedicated to his children and does not wish for them to be affected by recent media reports regarding his former partner.”
Lowndes and Natalie were, prior to their split, one of the poster couples of Australian motor racing. They had a very visible partnership. They had met in 1996 at the Lakeside race circuit on Brisbane’s northside where she said he was “in a truck behind us as we left the circuit, hanging out, yelling for my phone number”.
Lowndes came back to visit for two weeks and never went home. The pair were engaged later that year, the night after he won the Bathurst 1000, and later lived on their Kilcoy farm.
When Lowndes won race 1 of the Clipsal 500 in 2001, his first race win in a Ford after his difficult decision to leave Holden, it was a photo of him kissing his wife with his trophy in hand that captured attention.
When they split, they said in a statement they would share custody of their children “making this transition as easy as possible for them”.
But on the eve of the 2013 Bathurst 1000 Lowndes gave an emotional interview in which he revealed he had seen his children only twice that year as Natalie took them on a trip around Australia, homeschooling them on the way. He went into that race with Chilli and Levi painted on the side of his helmet.
In 2015, Lowndes married Lara McDonald, a management consultant.
The pair, who were introduced by a mutual motorsport acquaintance and were friends for years before getting together following his separation, currently live in the inner north of Brisbane with their rescue dog, Lola.