When an official is recognised for their efforts during the annual Motorsport Australia State Awards, it isn’t always due to a single brilliant year. It is often a reflection of their contributions to the sport as a whole.
Matthew Balcombe is one of those officials, who after dedicating three quarters of his life to motorsport, was awarded the State Official of the Year at this year’s Motorsport Australia Victorian Awards, presented by Burson Auto Parts.
The 40-year-old’s life has been all about the sport since he first got involved 29 years ago through his father, and it wasn’t long before he was making a name for himself, impressing those who worked with him.
At just 18-years-old, he was a club level clerk of course before joining race control and being a key figure in organising the Motorsport Australia Supersprint Championship a decade later. Now Balcombe is widely considered as one of the most talented officials in the country, highlighted by his position as race director for the Toyota 86 Series.
To say Balcombe is a jack of all trades would be an understatement, as the Victorian has shown his skills in many roles during his three decades in motorsport.
“I don’t know anything else other than motorsport,” Balcombe said.
“I have been doing it since I was a kid and it’s just something I have really enjoyed doing. It’s become part of who I am.
“I was less involved last year, so I think the award was more of a recognition for the past 30 years, not just the one year, which was nice.
“There is a certain satisfaction of achieving something positive like running a successful event, but I also really enjoy sometimes going back to the basics and getting out of race control to do flagging. It’s nice to switch off from the world.
“Thinking back over the years, there isn’t much I haven’t done in motorsport, but I would say the only jobs I haven’t done at a racetrack would be a Chief Medical Officer or Steward.”
Like many volunteers, Balcombe has created a lifetime of memories and unforgettable moments and with so many more to come, it’s easy to see why he will continue to be involved with motorsport.
While his wife and children now join him at many of the race meetings, as well as a support him every year, Balcombe admits his best memory comes from his work on the national stage in 2009.
“Probably the most satisfying moment in my time as a volunteer would have been the 2009 Australian Supersprint Championship at Phillip Island,” Balcombe said.
“It was only the second time the national championship was being run and I was nominated to be the clerk of course, but I had been involved for the 12 months leading up to it because it was a mountain of work.
“What made it so difficult was not having a set of regulations to work off as it was so new and Victoria didn’t even run a state-wide competition. But putting our heads together, we ended up putting on a really great event.
“People from all around the country came and really enjoyed the weekend. They left with big smiles, so that for me was probably the one moment that really stands out.
“For me, there are many people to thank for this award. I’ve said it so many times, but I’ll say it again - a big thank you to my family for being such strong supporters, because without a good support network, you don’t get things done.
“There were also the many mentors I had over the past 25 years, who invested a massive amount of time and experience in me to make me who I am now. It takes a village to raise a child and I can safely say that I have definitely had good people help me over the years.”