Ross Tapper, owner of Targa West Events, has been awarded an Order of Australia Medal for services to motorsport in the Australia Day Honours.
Mr Tapper’s career in motorsport administration spans close to 45 years.
He has been Clerk of Course in over 250 events including motorkhana, autocross, rallysprint, and national, state and club rallies including the Forest Rally, Rally of Melbourne, Rally Tasmania, Rally Calder and Australasian Safari.
In 1988, Mr Tapper was Assistant Clerk of Course for Safety in the country’s first round of the World Rally Championship, Rally Australia, a role he performed until 1994.
He has been a Clerk of Course for at least one round of the WA State Rally Championship or Australian Rally Championship every year since 1978, and in May he will be Clerk of Course for the 32nd time for WA’s round of the ARC Forest Rally held in Bunbury and Nannup.
Mr Tapper has run tarmac rally Targa West in Perth for 16 years, has been chairman of the WA Rally Advisory Panel for 12 years, President of the WA Car Club for 20 years in three separate stints, was named WA State Official of the Year in 2015 and in that same year inducted into the Australia Rally Hall of Fame and given Lifetime Membership to Motorsport Australia (previously CAMS).
Mr Tapper said that the OAM has taken him by surprise.
“I feel very humbled and equally very pleased that someone from a non-mainstream sport can be recognised for their contribution to a sport they love,” Mr Tapper said.
“Running rallies is not a one-man-show and I certainly couldn’t have done any of this without the friendship and support of many officials, competitors and service crews, and especially my number one supporter, my wife Jan.
“My love of rallying doesn’t come from liking cars, in fact, it’s the opposite – I don’t pop open a bonnet and get excited at the shiny bits.
“What makes it so rewarding are the friendships formed, many that have lasted decades and continue on to this day. That, and bringing together a gazillion moving parts that make up a motorsport event – approvals, competitors, officials, all of it, and overseeing everything so events run safely and smoothly.
“I am so fortunate that I’ve been able to turn a hobby into a long and fulfilling career, it’s been amazing.
“When I reflect back, I feel truly grateful to do what I love and love what I do, every day I’m surrounded by friends and good people.
“I’m living proof that motorsport is addictive, whether you’re behind the wheel or not, before one event is over, I’m already planning the next.”
There’s no talk of retirement or slowing down, Mr Tapper, 63, is deep in the throes of planning the next rally, the Auto One Targa Albany Sprint on February 28 and March 1, which he has expanded from one event last year into three events this year.
Introduced to motorsport by his father in the 1950s, Mr Tapper joined the WA Car Club in 1975 and the following year started rally driving in a Galant. His first foray organising a rally was three years later in 1978 for which he received the Director of the Year Award.
Mr Tapper was sent overseas by the FIA to officiate and train in Japan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam, and his long list of awards and accolades includes Lifetime Membership of the WA Car Club.
The WA Rally Community congratulates Mr Tapper on an outstanding career and the much-deserved Order of Australia Medal.