Earlier today Queanbeyan City Council honoured Australian Formula One driver, and local lad made good, Mark Webber with a civic reception. I made the short journey across the border to join in the fun.
Proceedings begun with a parade down Queanbeyan’s main street, where hundreds of people, including lots of school kids, were able to cheer Webber on and offer best wishes for this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.
Once the parade was over Webber was greeted by Queanbeyan Mayor, Cr Tim Overall, before he became a pied piper of sorts on his way into the Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. It was a short walk but with every step Webber happily signed autographs for F1 fans of all ages.
The usual speeches were presented including a great precis of Webber’s career from an old family friend. You could see from the smile on Mark’s face that he enjoyed the snapshot offered, and that the effort made was very much appreciated.
Webber then took the stand, accepted a plaque from Cr Overall and spoke of his fond memories from growing up in Queanbeyan. He also made special mention for two other local boys done good, namely David Campese and David Furner.
During Webber’s F3 days he was facing a financial crossroad and he needed money for his motorsport career to survive. Former Wallaby David Campese came to the fore providing $100,000 which allowed Mark to carry on. Webber quipped that he has since paid back the loan and acknowledged his gratitude to Campese who took a huge risk to support what was then a fledgling career.
David Furner, NRL premiership player and current Canberra Raiders coach, also earned praise from Webber who recalled his days growing up when he would walk his dog and see Furner out practicing alone. Mark commented that when he first arrived in Europe he thought he was doing pretty well, but he soon realised all the other young hopefuls from countries far and wide wanted to achieve the same thing he did, a Formula One career. He remembered Furner’s discipline and willingness to train that little bit harder and soon followed a similar methodology. Mark mentioned he likes training on Christmas Day and News Year’s Day as he reckons this gives him two extra days on his competitors.
Webber spoke well and his enthusiasm for friends, family and all in attendance was clear to see. He appears to have a humility that many of his peers would do well to imitate. He also has the support of Australian F1 fans and I’m sure all wish him great success, including a strong result this weekend.
More pics and a few sound bites from Webber’s speech can be seen after the jump.