One of Australia's hardest-working and most respected motorsport administrators, Margaret Hardy, has lost her battle with breast cancer.
Hardy was one of the driving forces behind Formula Ford in Australia before her official “retirement” from the sport in 2013.
Hardy joined the Light Car Club of Australia in 1977, which was then the promoters of the Sandown International Raceway, and began working with the national series in the late 1970s.
General Manager of the Club, Ian McKnight, was the Formula Ford Administrator at the time and office staff assisted with the category's general paperwork.
In 1983 she was appointed Assistant Administrator, holding that position until the administration role was transferred to Winton Raceway in 1990.
Two years later she was appointed Administrator, a role which she held until the end of 2009.
Her key responsibilities, under the supervision of the FFA Committee, included record maintenance, working with sponsors and the controlling body and members.
She was also responsible for managing the National Championship, a role she continued until championship status was removed in 2013.
The 1990s were regarded as the most successful era of the category in Australia and Hardy oversaw the series evolve from the Formula Ford Driver to Europe Series to the Australian Formula Ford Championship.
Hardy developed personal friendships with many of the drivers who went on to achieve success nationally and internationally, including former category stars Mark Webber, Mark Larkham, Russell Ingall, Craig Lowndes, Steven Richards, Will Davison and its last champion, Anton De Pasquale.
In recent times, Hardy has contributed greatly to the content for a book celebrating the history of Formula Ford in Australia which is due to be published next year.
Sonic Motor Racing Services owner and Formula Ford stalwart Michael Ritter said Hardy's contribution was rarely acknowledged publicly.
“It is very sad news,” said Ritter.
“She contributed a huge amount to the category in this country and so many drivers have a lot to thank her for.
“I don't think people will ever understand the work she did behind the scenes.
“She was highly respected and valued and will be missed by everyone that worked with her or knew her.
“We may not have always seen eye to eye, but you knew that she was doing what she thought was the right thing for Formula Ford.
“Sonic Motor Racing Services passes on its condolences to her husband David and the entire Hardy family.”
Richards, who won the championship in 1994, was taken aback by the news.
“What an amazing lady and what an incredible contribution she made, not only to Formula Ford, but to our sport,” said Richards.
“Her personal commitment was incredible. She cared about the sport and the people in it.
“She genuinely enjoyed watching drivers succeed in the category and go on to achieve great things at higher levels of the sport.”
Hardy was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer in 2019 and endured lengthy chemo, surgery and radiotherapy.
She spent the last three weeks in hospital and husband David was with her when she passed this morning.
Funeral details will be released, but current Victorian COVID-19 rules means that it can only be attended by 10 people.
Speedcafe.com offers its condolences to David, and Margaret's family and friends.