Motorsport Australia’s President of Honour, Andrew Papadopoulos is one of many motorsport figures to be recognised in the Queen's Birthday 2021 Honours List.
For their contributions to Australian motorsport, Papadopoulos, six-time Bathurst 1000 winner Larry Perkins, and 1984 & 1985 Motorsport Australia Drivers' Champion John Bowe were appointed members of the Order of Australia (AM).
Tony Cochrane, who is renowned in Australian motorsport as one of the visionaries for the modern-day Supercars Championship, was also awarded an Order of Australia for his significant service to sport administration and entertainment production.
Dr Michael Henderson has been appointed officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to motor vehicle and motorsport safety, and to the prevention of road trauma.
Papadopoulos, who was Motorsport Australia’s President for more than a decade, oversaw a number of key initiatives for the sport and was integral in motorsport safety’s improvements over the years.
First becoming involved in the sport as a competitor for the Alfa Romeo Owners Club of Australia’s NSW division, Papadopoulos served as the club’s State President and then National President. During that time, he also became a board member of the Australian Racing Drivers’ Club.
In 2008, after holding positions as both a state Councillor at then a member of the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (now Motorsport Australia) Board, he was appointed President and held that position unopposed until stepping down at the end of 2020.
During his time as President of Motorsport Australia, he oversaw a number of significant achievements, including securing an Australian round of the FIA World Rally Championship in 2012, establishing the Australian Motorsport Hall of Fame in 2014 and driving significant improvements in motorsport safety, such as the compulsory introduction of frontal head restraints.
Internationally, Papadopoulos always strived to enhance Australia’s reputation in world motorsport and helped secure a number of prestigious overseas training engagements for Motorsport Australia.
He also served the sport in an international capacity as both an FIA Steward and as President of the FIA’s global ASN Development Taskforce.
“To be recognised for this award by my peers for doing something that I love is truly an honour and I am grateful to every single person who helped me with my involvement for all these years,” Papadopoulos said.
“I have always had a passion for motorsport and you don’t do this sort of thing to get accolades or awards, you do it because it’s important to you. To be successfully nominated for an award like this is something I will treasure for the rest of my life.
“I am proud of many of my achievements in motorsport – but if I were to pick a couple of highlights, I think playing a role in the current crop of Australian international stars like Daniel Ricciardo and improving the sport’s safety measures would have to be right up there.
“There are many people I would like to acknowledge. Eugene Arocca and the Motorsport Australia staff and Board, John Large who was a fantastic mentor over the years and of course my family, who have supported me and allowed me to pursue my passion.
“Finally, it is important to note that this award is not just recognition for me – it is recognition of motorsport as a whole because it is our hardworking volunteers, the passion of competitors and development of our youth that drives this sport and keeps it growing around the country.
“To receive this award and join a long list of talented individuals makes it very personal for me too. There have been so many fantastic ambassadors for the sport who have been recognised for their contributions and to now join them is terrific.”
Dr Michael Henderson, who made significant contributions to motor vehicle and motorsport safety in the country, was also a strong advocate for compulsory seat belt laws in Australia.
Hailing from the United Kingdom, Dr Henderson was instrumental in the establishment of the Australian Government’s road crash research unit and test laboratory, Crash Lab, as well as writing over 100 research papers on road safety and leading reviews on head injury prevention with bicycle helmets.
From a motorsport point of view, Dr Henderson’s expertise and passion for the sport saw him hold multiple high profile roles such as Vice President of the Historic Sports and Racing Car Association of NSW, Deputy Chairman of the Motorsport Australia Historic Motor Sport Commission and the Inaugural Chairman of the Australian Institute for Motor Sport Safety (AIMSS).
His book, “Motor Racing in Safety, the Human Factors”, proved to be a seminal step in the introduction of safety concepts into a sporting field that was then very dangerous and caused hundreds of deaths and countless injuries worldwide every year. His work was most notable in the promotion, use and development of safety harnesses.
In recognition of his significant contribution to motorsport through his leadership, commitment and specialist skills, Dr Henderson was awarded life membership of CAMS in 2004 and was more recently presented with the Award of Merit, Motorsport Australia’s highest award.
Motorsport Australia President Andrew Fraser lauded both Papadopoulos and Dr Henderson for their major roles in the sport.
“I am very pleased that both Andrew and Dr Henderson have been recognised in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honour’s List as they have been critical in helping motorsport get to where it is today,” Fraser said.
“Motorsport Australia has grown to be a globally recognised leader in motorsport under Andrew’s leadership, and his passion for motorsport has seen him rise to a significant position within the FIA, particularly in the area of ASN Development.
“His commitment to driver development is particularly noteworthy and it is no accident that there are so many young and talented Australian racers competing in the world today.
“Dr Henderson established a worldwide reputation for excellence in safety, and for more than 50 years he has had an internationally recognised pre-eminent role in the area of motor vehicle safety research. While difficult to quantify, his contribution towards the reduction in trauma and death on both the road and the race track has been very significant.
“These gentlemen are worthy recipients of this award and everyone at Motorsport Australia is extremely proud of their achievements.”
See a full list of motorsport citations below.
Officer in the General Division (AO)
Dr Michael Henderson: For distinguished service to motor vehicle and motorsport safety, and to the prevention of road trauma.
Member in the General Division (AM)
John Bowe: For significant service to motorsport as a touring car driver.
Tony Cochrane: For significant service to sports administration, and to entertainment production.
Andrew Papadopoulos: For significant service to motorsport, and to driver safety and education.
Larry Perkins: For significant service to motorsport as a touring car driver and team owner.
Trent Smyth: For significant service to international relations, to motorsport, and to business.