V8 Utes Australia has decided to pay tribute to former V8 Supercar driver Ashley Cooper with the presentation of an award in his memory at the end-of-season awards.

The former Ute racer passed away on 25 February after a fatal accident at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide, and the support series has inaugurated the Ashley Cooper Memorial Rookie of the Year Award in a bid to keep his memory alive. Cooper is a former winner of the Ute rookie award, which he won in 2006, and father Alan is honoured that the series has decided to remember him.

"Ashley loved his time in the V8 Ute Racing Series, and to have this award named after him will ensure that his memory will be cherished for years to come," he noted, "I can't thank Craig and the team at Spherix enough for this wonderful gesture."

After his sudden departure, Cooper's donated organs saved seven people's lives, including that of a six-year old child. As a result, his parents began the Ashley Cooper Foundation to help partner Cathy and children Ella and Bailey, as well as support other families in similar circumstances, and to encourage others to help save lives through organ donation.

"It is wonderful to see what his family are doing with the Ashley Cooper Foundation, and I believe it is important for people all over to support the cause," V8 Utes Australia director Bill West said, "Ashley was such an inspiration on and off the track and [the rookie of the year] award is our way to honour his memory."

The perpetual Ashley Cooper Memorial Trophy will be an additional award, sitting alongside the Racer Industries Rookie of the Year competition, and looks set to be fought out between Glenn McNally, Ben Kavich and Michael Bartsch at the final round of 2008, at Oran Park, on the first weekend of December.

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