A ‘who’s who’ of Australian motor sport was in attendance at Crown on Saturday night, as CAMS hosted its annual National Awards Gala Dinner.
Presented by Burson Auto Parts, national champions and series winners were recognised as well as the hard working members of the sport who give their all behind the scenes.
Trevor Stilling and Tony Brandon were on hand to accept their award as the 2017 Australian 2WD Classic Rally Challenge winners from CAMS Board Member Norman Gowers and Board Member Michael Clements congratulated Australian 2WD Rally Champions Adam Kaplan and Aleshia Penny.
But it was Australian Rally Champion Nathan Quinn that stole the show with a thank you speech that included a red Super Mario hat to complement his moustache and amusing anecdotes of his journey to becoming Australian Rally Champion.
In reference to his emotional live interview at the end of the final stage at Rally Australia, Quinn said, “The last time I was asked to say a few words I had none…so I’m here to fix that.”
Quinn recounted that his Dad was less than forthcoming when he asked 13 years ago to try rallying. So, waiting until his parents were out of the country, he took the family Triton to a motorkhana at the back of the showgrounds.
“They found out about that,” said Quinn. “So thanks Mum and Dad for bugger all!”.
Quinn thanked New Zealander David Calder, who competed with him over the last few years but didn’t do the whole championship in 2017 “because I was struggling with his accent” and Ben Searcy from Western Australia, who could not attend the gala dinner “so bugger him!”. With two co-drivers joining Quinn in 2017, it was Molly Taylor’s co-driver Bill Hayes who claimed co-driver champion honours.
He also thanked his partner Brittany for paying his registration fee for the 2017 Australian Rally Championship. “I did pay her back by June,” he quipped.
Quinn acknowledged Rally Australia for getting behind him this year, and thanked Eli Evans for suggesting that he register for the 2017 championship ‘just in case’ and Neal Bates and Coral Taylor who went out of their way to help him get to the Forest Rally in WA.
Of his championship win, Quinn said: “It’s an honour to win the Australian Rally Championship against the opposition of Molly (Taylor), Harry (Bates) and Eli (Evans), Subaru, Toyota and it’s an honour to be in the presence of those in this room, there are a lot of champions here and a lot of legends.
“Even more so it’s a surreal dream to be engraved on the Possum Bourne Memorial Trophy, and to be honest if I had of known how big the trophy was ten years ago I might tried to go for it earlier.
“I believe last year we went rallying. We did it tough, we were lent a helping hand, we were sent experience when we needed it, we were sent money when we needed it most.
“We were lent parts, we were lent tools – and talking about parts we borrowed brake pads and gave them back at the end of the rally – people rallied around us and people believed in us.
“We went rallying, true rallying, the rallying I had heard about all my life. We went rallying and rallying won.”
Earlier in the evening, CAMS President Andrew Papadopoulos praised all the award winners for a successful 2017, noting the impact grassroots motor sport had across the country.
“When we look back on 2017, we were lucky enough to witness some amazing achievements both on and off the track,” Papadopoulos said.
“Grassroots motor sport is alive and well and is the cornerstone of our sport. CAMS is committed to its support of the grassroots and we are focused on ensuring that support is meaningful and continuing.”
Winners across a range of disciplines were recognised, from circuit racing and rally to off road and karting.