With a well organised state rally championship and tarmac rally events reaching record numbers at every meeting, the West Australian rallying scene’s 2019 was one to remember.
And with such a strong network of talented officials and administrators behind it, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when Targa West was named Event of the Year and David Smith as the best official during the 2019 WA Motorsport Australia State Awards, presented by Burson Auto Parts.
Targa West is an incredible event with up to 90 drivers competing in the rallysprint in the heart of Perth City, drawing a huge crowd every time it runs.
Behind the event are three key figures in Smith, Ross Tapper and Jan Tapper. The trio have done an excellent job in creating an outstanding event.
Despite having a big part in the smooth running of Targa West and the West Australian rally scene as a whole, the WA Official of the Year was still shocked to hear his name called out during the gala dinner earlier this year.
“It was a huge honour to win the award. It was humbling in many ways because there are so many people worthy of it, especially in rallying, but to be singled out is fantastic,” Smith said.
“It was also a complete surprise as I had no idea in the lead up. I was fully unprepared for the speech. I didn’t even thank anyone when I got up and accepted the award because I was just so surprised.
“I was invited to the gala dinner with no knowledge of it happening. I wasn’t even concentrating when they were reading out my achievements because I was too busy admiring the Targa West award.
“But now that it’s finally sunk in, I want to thank my wife and children who put up with me being away from home for extended periods of time. I also need to mention Ross and Jan Tapper for their work at Targa West and Bob Schrader for bringing me in to the fold all those years ago.
“Lastly and most importantly, all the 600 officials that come out and support us at rally events. Those guys just blow me away with their attitudes. The support these officials give the sport is amazing.”
Smith isn’t lying when he says he is often away from home. Between duties in the Motorsport Australia WA Rally Championship, two state rally sprint series and the WA Autocross series, the 51-year-old attends around 23 events per year, as well as maintaining a lot of administration required at home.
Remarkably, this passion didn’t come through the traditional path either. Smith didn’t grow up watching motorsport, dreaming of being a champion one day. He had a simple start to his journey in the 1980s when he was at university and decided to attend a local WA rally event as a spectator simply out of curiosity.
It was then and there where he became hooked and wanted to get involved in any way, shape or form.
Starting out as a competitor, it became apparent he wasn’t the most talented driver in the field, but he still had a passion for rallying and found his niche in another capacity – one which he excelled at.
“I started to do motorkhanas and khanacrosses but quickly released my ability as a driver was quickly exceeded by my ability to organise events,” Smith added.
“I started out doing road closures, but soon Ross and the WA car club asked if I could help with the WA Autocross series, which I did for a couple of years. I was then approached to get involved in Targa West and then to the Rally WA.
“The support from the shires and cities to shut down their towns is superb and to coordinate all of that, as well as a polished event on what is a low budget is certainly just reward.
“Targa West is a big event and there is only Ross, Jan and myself who work on the event full time. So for that to be recognised as the best event of the year in WA, it’s a significant honour.”