The 2023 Australian Motorsport Awards Season is officially up and running with the Motorsport Australia National Awards Gala Dinner, presented by Shannons Insurance, celebrating Australia's best of the best.
Taking place at the prestigious Melbourne and Exhibition Centre in Victoria, a full house was in attendance to witness national champions from the many disciplines around the country receive their well-deserved trophies.
There were plenty of familiar champions to receive recognition throughout the evening, including Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship winners Harry Bates and Coral Taylor and SXS Motorsport Australia Champions James Cook and Mitch Aucote.
The awards also saw a host of first timers receive silverware for national titles, including Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series champion Josh Buchan, Motorsport Australia Off Road Champions Travis Robinson and Andrew Pinto, and Repco Supercars Champion, Brodie Kostecki.
Kostecki was one of the shining lights of the 2023 season, recording six wins and a further 12 podiums to take out his maiden title in Australia’s premiere category.
The West Australian’s efforts also earned him the prestigious Peter Brock Medal, which recognises the sport's rising stars and is voted upon by a special selection committee.
Another West Australian young gun of Australian motorsport to be recognised at the Gala Dinner was Aaron Love, who was named as the 2023 Young Driver of the Year Award recipient, having won races in a handful of Australian and international categories over the past few years.
In addition to drivers being recognised for their seasons, the Gala Dinner also honoured many individuals within the motorsport community for their work off the track.
Receiving the highest accolade of the event was the great Dick Johnson AM, who was named as the Member of Honour. For decades, Johnson has been a remarkable ambassador for the sport, both as a driver, where he won five Australian Touring Car Championships and three Bathurst 1000s, and team owner, famously leading his team to three consecutive Supercars titles between 2018 and 2020.
Five individuals received Motorsport Australia Life Membership for their contributions to the sport, with the quintet including Lawrie Schmitt, Paul Morris, Frank Lowndes, Stephen Preece and Phillip East.
A highly esteemed Presidential Citation was given to four individuals - Jeff Mattner and David Halstead, each honoured for their special dedication to the sport over many years, while Gordon Smith and Maverick Kemenyvary received the Citation for displaying courageous and selfless behaviour during a critical incident in 2023, where they saved a fellow competitor from a burning car at Queensland Raceway.
Alongside Kemenyvary and Smith in that extraction was Steve Kirby, who was named as the 2023 Donald Thompson Award winner.
There were a handful of other individuals to win notable awards during the Gala, most notably Susanne Dixon, who was named as the 2023 Australian Motorsport Official of the Year.
Having been an outstanding and dedicated volunteer official for more than 20 years, Dixon has been involved with many facets of motorsport, her most distinguished position as an instrumental member of the rescue and extrication teams.
Bringing her real-world experience as a State Emergency Services volunteer and road crash rescue first responder and trainer, Dixon has been called to action on many occasions and has acted with the upmost professionalism.
Another individual boasting decades of experience in motorsport was Phil Irvine Award winner, Kevin Drage, who was recognised for his continual commitment to innovation and improvement of the essential components used by motor cars in motorsport.
Australian media were another group of individuals to receive honours across the event for their contributions of bringing the sport to fans around the country.
Named as Journalist of the Year for the second time was West Australian Andrew van Leeuwan, while New South Wales based photographer Jack Martin also received his second Photographer of the Year award.
Motorsport news outlet V8 Sleuth received two awards during the evening with Connor O'Brien awarded the Breaking News Story of the Year with his report on Will Brown going to Triple Eight, while Aaron Noonan received the Motorsport Australia Best Use of Digital Media.
Rounding out the West Australian photographer Timothy Wilson has his exciting photo of WA rally driver Daniel Gonzalez named as the Photo of the Year.
2023 Awards Winners
2023 Life Membership – Lawrie Schmitt
2023 Life Membership – Paul Morris
2023 Life Membership – Frank Lowndes
2023 Life Membership – Stephen Preece
2023 Life Membership – Phillip East
2023 Presidential Citation - Jeff Mattner
2023 Presidential Citation - Gordon Smith
2023 Presidential Citation - Maverick Kemenyvary
2023 Presidential Citation - David Halstead,
2023 Member of Honour – Dick Johnson
Motorsport Journalist of the Year – Andrew van Leeuwen
Breaking News Story of the Year – Connor O'Brien
Best Use of Digital Media – V8 Sleuth
Motorsport Photograph of the Year – Timothy Wilson
Motorsport Photographer of the Year – Jack Martin
Peter Brock Medal – Brodie Kostecki
Phil Irvine Award - Kevin Drage
Donald Thompson Award - Steve Kirby
Australian Motorsport Official of the Year – Susanne Dixon
Young Driver of the Year – Aaron Love