Motorsport Australia is saddened to hear of the recent passing of New South Wales off road stalwart David Ellem.
Ellem was dedicated to New South Wales’ off road scene for much of his life as both a fierce competitor and highly respected official. David and his wife Gwen were known for their passion and dedication to the sport.
Born in 1942, David became first involved in the sport in the early 1960s where he spent more than a decade servicing for many teams in off road, rally and trials, most notably the Krimmitorium Rally Team and Dave Morrow.
In the 1970s, Ellem’s knowledge for the sport saw him as a vital part in the inception of off road racing in New South Wales, morphing standalone events into a strong state championship and for the better part of 22 years, he would scrutineer at every event, before moving up to a starter.
It was in the 1970s when he met Gwen, who was just as passionate for motorsport as he was and spent her weekends as a rally driver and co-driver for her brother Roger. David and Gwen married shortly after in 1974 and remained married for the rest of their lives.
Being part of the organising teams of prestigious off road events like Kempsey, Griffith and Amaroo in the 1970s and 1980s wasn’t enough for a passionate individual like David, with the New South Welshman also heavily involved in the Sydney Recreational Vehicles Association, which would later become known as the Sydney Off Road Racing Association.
Holding roles of club vice-president and president during the 1980s, it was also during that decade where he and Gwen would travel around Australia to attend national events as the official starter – a tradition they would continue long into the 1990s.
As the years went by, David and Gwen became vastly popular throughout the country, with David nicknamed “Fingers” due to his eccentric style of starting event. David was then recognised for his efforts in 1999 when he was inducted into the Off Road Hall of Fame.
His work as a Motorsport Australia official was also highly touted amongst the motorsport community, recognised as a Gold Steward for all disciplines of motorsport, holding a position of Motorsport Australia Tribune, Trainer and Assessor, as well as being the Vice Chairman of the NSW Stewards Advisory Panel for many years.
While off road was where he made his mark, David also became involved with circuit racing in his later years where he held the esteemed position of Assistant Clerk of Course and Judicial at many high end circuits such as Sydney Motorsport Park and Mount Panorama.
Both David and Gwen were together until the end of their lives, with Gwen recently passing just two weeks before her beloved husband, and the couple are survived by their daughter Stephanie.
Motorsport Australia would like to extend its condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of both David and Gwen Ellem.