Former Grand Prix and sports car driver turned long-time race official Tim Schenken has been awarded an Order of Australia medal in today’s Queen’s Birthday honours.
Earmarked as one of the the outstanding talents in junior motorsport in the late 1960s, Schenken made his Grand Prix debut for Frank Williams’ little Formula 1 team in 1970.
In 1971, he made a big breakthrough, joining the Brabham team as Graham Hill’s number-two. Despite being saddled with the older-spec BT33 chassis, he outperformed his more experienced team-mate for much of the season, peaking with a fine podium finish at the Austrian Grand Prix. His pair of points’ finishes that season were scant reward for his efforts, although he achieved rather more solid results in the non-championship Race of Champions and the International Trophy.
With Bernie Ecclestone buying the Brabham team, Schenken was hesitant about the team’s prospects and quit for Surtees, which proved to be a major misjudgement. Stifled by Surtees’ now-famous lack of management skills, Schenken’s long-term F1 ambitions were in trouble.
Despite this, it was in the field of sports cars where Schenken truly made his mark. He joined the Ferrari team, winning the 1000Km races at Buenos Aires and the Nürburgring – as well as claiming four further second-placed finishes – alongside Ronnie Peterson.
Hopes of helping Ron Dennis’ Rondel Formula 2 operation move into the big league when belly-up along with Dennis’ team, but Schenken was back the following year, reuniting with former Brabham boss Ron Tauranac in the ill-fated Trojan F1 project.
With no further opportunities in F1 forthcoming, Tim turned to sports car and GT racing, driving George Loos’ stable of Porsches between 1975-7, winning the Nürburgring 1000Km for a second time in 1977.
After retiring from competitive driving, Tim co-founded the Tiga racing car enterprise with fellow former F1 driver Howden Ganley, and the operation proved to be a huge success with Tiga cars achieving a multitude of wins in various open-wheeler championships.
In the mid-1980s, Tim took up a position with Australia’s motorsport body, CAMS, serving the long-time role of CAMS Race Director and clerk of the course for the Australian Grand Prix and continues to serve as the Race Director for the Australian Supercars Championship.
“It’s a great honour and of which I am incredibly proud,” said Schenken of today’s OAM.
“I feel privileged to have spent most of my life in motor sport in one capacity or another. Motor racing has been more than a job, it has been a great passion of mine.
“Whether as a driver, team manager, constructor, official and in my role at CAMS, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing people and enjoy the challenges and changes in the sport over a long period of time.
“I would like to thank my family, particularly my wife Brigitte, for their constant support. I would also like to acknowledge my colleagues and friends at CAMS, the FIA and Supercars.”
CAMS President Andrew Papadopoulos paid tribute to Schenken’s contribution to motorsport.
“We are extremely proud of Tim and all he has achieved,” Papadopoulos said.
“He has left an indelible mark on our sport. Whether as an administrator, Race Director, Clerk of Course or Steward in Australia or overseas, Tim’s work has always been of the highest order. His contribution to Australian motor sport cannot be underestimated and it continues to this day.
“On behalf of CAMS and the Australian motor sport community, I offer my wholehearted congratulations to him and his family for this prestigious honour.”
You can read our complete feature interview with Tim Schenken on our website by clicking here.
Image via Australian Grand Prix Corporation and Getty Images