Erebus Motorsport’s Betty Klimenko says she feels “very honoured” to be awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to motorsport and contributions to charitable organizations.
Klimenko was recognized in today’s Queen’s Birthday celebrations and says she remembers her late father receiving the same accolade.
“What made it even more special is that I remember when my father got his,” she said.
“I remember sitting there thinking to myself, you have to do something special to be standing there and receiving a medal, and now I’m getting the same honour he did.
“I am a very proud Australian and to be honoured by the country that I love so much means the world to me.
“It was instilled in me at a young age to give back and to make a difference and it makes me very proud I could earn this honour in my own right.”
Klimenko broke the barriers in 2012 when she bought Stone Brothers Racing and launched her own Supercars program, becoming the first female team owner.
Weeks before Erebus Motorsport’s Supercars debut, it won the Bathurst 12 Hour, before claiming victory at the famed Bathurst 1000 in 2017.
Klimenko, who describes the October enduro as one of her greatest accomplishments, has compared the two.
“It’s up there with Bathurst, it’s very special,” she said.
“I am being honoured for work that I have done in the sport that I love.
“I didn’t just open a lot of doors for women in motorsport, I broke them.
“I wanted them to be left open for other women to come through and I have shown that it is possible to be a woman and receive one of the highest accolades in the country for the sport.
“It is for the same reason why we run the Erebus Academy, to give people that would otherwise have the chance to race in this category, the chance.”
Away from the track, Klimenko has also been a key figure in her Saunders Family charitable programs, donating to major non-for-profit organizations and smaller causes.
Her team will hit the track this weekend at Hidden Valley Raceway for the Darwin Triple Crown.