Having been involved with the sport for 55 years, van den Dungen has undertaken almost every role possible as an official, with his most notable being the many years as the National Clerk of Course at the Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix.
A highly respected Motorsport Australia official and a deserving recipient, the 77-year-old was surprised to have won the award but was extremely honoured.
“I was absolutely speechless when I got the call from Motorsport Australia's Michael Smith. At first, I thought he was calling about the Qatar Grand Prix, but it was about the award and I just couldn’t believe it,” van den Dungen said.
“I am delighted to have won and seriously humbled by it because it’s recognition for the many years I have put into motorsport.
“Of course, it doesn’t just represent my efforts, it’s more representative of the team that I have had the pleasure of working with throughout my time – without them it wouldn’t be possible.
“I am very grateful to have enjoyed the last 55 years and motorsport has been a large part of my life. It’s been a fantastic time and I want to thank everyone who has played a role in my life in motorsport.”
van den Dungen first became an official in 1965 after realising he was unable to fulfil his passion as a driver and picked the next best thing.
From the moment the Victorian joined, he was hooked on motorsport and spent as much time as possible at many race meetings so he could soak up everything there was to know about the sport.
Starting off as a flag marshal and then sector marshal, the talented official progressed through the ranks to eventually become a Clerk of Course - a role he has held for more than 40 years.
In 1985, van den Dungen had done enough to secure the position of National Clerk of Course at the Australian Grand Prix and has performed admirably in that role ever since.
Throughout his time, van den Dungen has experienced many unforgettable memories.
“What I have enjoyed most about being an official, especially at the Grand Prix, is the camaraderie amongst all the volunteer officials,” van den Dungen explained.
“It’s all about the friends you make. The crew that goes to the Grand Prix every year and the friendships you make are just 100 per cent and I love it.
“Our Grand Prix is special because we have such a terrific team who love what they do and have a lot of fun each year – which for me is what it’s all about.
“What always stuck with me was that the late great Charlie Whiting (former Formula 1® Race Director) used to love coming to our event because he knew he didn’t have to worry about the circuit as he had complete faith in us as operators.
“I love working at the Grand Prix. It’s such a great event and has such a buzzing atmosphere. I wouldn’t miss it for anything in the world and honestly, it’s the most exciting thing I do all year.”
van den Dungen’s award sees him join a long list of Australians to receive an international honour by the FIA, including Roger Chirnside and Steve Chopping.
Motorsport Australia CEO Eugene Arocca praised van den Dungen for the award and paid tribute to Australian officials.
“Henk is fantastic at what he does and is certainly deserving of this award,” Arocca said.
“The continued success and growth of the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix is reflective of Henk’s selfless devotion and commitment to the event, as he volunteers much of his personal time to many months of pre-event planning and organising.
“Henk is a wonderful leader. He has a wealth of knowledge and has an excellent ability to both manage critical situations and keep the schedule on time, which is a testament to his many years at the highest level of the sport.
“We may not have had a Grand Prix for the last two years, but he has still showcased his talents at many other events throughout the year, which is why it’s fitting that the FIA has honoured Henk.
“To have another Australian recognised internationally is fantastic for our sport and I couldn’t be prouder of Henk and all of our officials for doing what they do.
"This form of recognition confirms the high regard in which our Motorsport Australia officials are held, both here and internationally."
Story via Motor Sport Australia