MotorActive would like to congratulate Owen Webb on being awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) 2015 for his outstanding and meritorious service to the community. In particular his charity work, training and support and contribution to the motoring enthusiast community. Receiving an OAM is an acknowledgement of tirelessly and selflessly dedicating a significant portion of your life to helping others. This personifies Owen, who is an immensely-deserving recipient.
Owen’s farm upbringing instilled a healthy work ethic that has served him well all his life. After entering the panel beating/spray painting industry, Owen quickly earned a reputation of being a spray painter of note. In 1988 he worked closely with Jim Frecklington on the construction and painting of the Queen’s Australian State Coach – earning him a personal audience with the Queen.
More recently Owen flew to Malaysia to paint a car for a Prince and was again invited to be involved with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee State coach, which she used at the 2014 Opening of the Parliament in London. His painting skills brought Owen to the attention of ICI Dulux, which is where Owen fed his hunger for training and began developing his acute business acumen.
Being a dedicated enthusiast, Owen has built a number of vehicles. His most high-profile show-stopper was a blue XY Falcon (Wild Thing). This innovative machine scored Top Three and Top Undercarriage at the inaugural Summernats in 1988. It also graced the March 1988 front cover of Street Machine magazine. After which, Owen directed his show-winning talents to benefiting other enthusiast’s projects; including Brian Willis’s HULK HK Monaro (Summernats 7 Grand Champion, Summernats 8 People’s Choice) and Howard Astill’s PIONEER XA Falcon Coupe (Summernats 10 Grand Champion and 1996 Street Machine of the Year). “Having had good success myself, I was happy to put something back into supporting the sport,” says Owen.
This support extended to serving as Summernats Chief Steward for some 26 years, a role perfectly suited to his supreme mediation skills and level headed thinking. Summernats expressly solicited his assistance to help them run the inaugural Summernats Malaysia in 2014. Owen’s extensive involvement in Canberra’s iconic horsepower festival has significantly contributed to the high esteem with which Summernats and the Meguiar’s Pavilion Top 60 Show is held within the greater motoring enthusiast community. Owen has invested a great deal of effort in cultivating and developing show car judging in Australia. “I really wanted to give the judging system transparency,” says Owen, “and to nurture new judges to keep things fresh.” It was his belief that by building up an experienced pool of dedicated judges, it would give the sport real direction and provide competitors something to build towards. Given the level of professionalism currently within the sport, he has succeeded on a massive scale.
His many years of service to Summernats led to him being inducted into the Rare Spares Legend Hall of Fame in 2011. Owen also serves as the Chief Steward and primary organiser for Meguiar’s MotorEx (Australia’s premier elite car show), while happily providing his wealth of experience, as well as donating numerous weekends of his own personal time to support Australian grass roots events. He has also actively encouraged Australian car owners to compete in the US. Owen was personally involved in getting Bruno Gianoncelli (Mercules) and Adam LeBrese (393 Coupe) over to the US – both of whom went fantastically well. Revered by his peers, Owen is tremendously passionate about helping aspiring builders with encouragement and of course spending countless hours with them developing the perfect House of Kolor hue to best highlight their blockbuster creations.
One of Owen’s stronger traits (yet lesser known activities) is his charity work – especially through MotorEx Cruise for Charity, Hand Brake Turn initiative, Anson Street School (Orange) and Sunrise Village. Cruise for Charity is an Australia-wide series of enthusiast cruises that raises significant funds for Camp Quality. Hand Brake Turn initiative is a youth scholarship organisation which provides intensive automotive training and social skills development for disadvantaged kids. Anson Street School caters to special needs students, for whom Owen assisted a good friend in setting up a panel beating and spray painting program.
Owen was instrumental in organising the Air Brushers Charity Spray Off, with 15 of Australia’s most talented airbrush artists. This initiative raised over $150,000 for abandoned and maimed Cambodian children at Sunrise Village. The programme helped some undertake university courses here in Australia, while others were invited to sing at the Sydney Opera House. Owen declared, “this project is one of the most personally-rewarding things I’ve ever done.” Owen’s other great passion is training. Throughout his career he has gone to great lengths to share his knowledge. He loves ensuring invaluable trade skills are passed onto future generations. Over the years he’s developed specialist paint application training programs. He teaches these programs around Australia at TAFE colleges along with businesses, particularly in remote areas that typically do not have access to this type of training. He takes much pleasure assisting trainees in this way.
When asked about being awarded an OAM, Owen replied, “It’s quite humbling actually, I never did any of it to win any type of award. When I look back at all the things I’ve been involved in. I think I’ve been very fortunate. I’m also greatly appreciative of Bruce and MotorActive for providing me the support and flexibility to get involved in these highly-rewarding ventures.” Owen would also like to personally thank David Rayner for his nomination. And how did Owen celebrate being awarded this great honour, “I’ll be at the Melbourne Hot Rod Show, selecting the latest Meguiar’s MotorEx Superstars Finalists and chasing up potential entrants.” And he’s not about to rest on his laurels, “haven’t got time to retire, I’ve still got too many things to do.”
About: Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM)
Announced annually on Australia Day (and Queens Birthday), the OAM is Australia’s highest recognition for outstanding lifetime achievement and service. Recipients are nominated by their community peers and can be from many fields of endeavour and all walks of life. Each nominee’s merit is assessed by the Council for the Order of Australia via nominated referees. Successful nominees are approved by the Governor General and appointed with a gold insignia (medal). Recipients are also entitled to use the initials “OAM” after their name.