He won the Australian Touring Car Championship four times. He also won Australia's greatest domestic motor race, Bathurst, four times. Yet only today, almost 15 years after his retirement from regular motor racing competition, did Allan Moffat, OBE, become an Australian.

The Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Mr Gary Hardgrave, conferred Australian citizenship on Moffat this morning in a ceremony at the Australian Grand Prix Corporation offices in Melbourne.

The man known for his flying starts in motor races admitted he had been "a few laps behind" in taking up citizenship.

Canadian-born Moffat first came to Australia as a student with his parents in the early 1960s and has lived permanently in the country since the late '60s, when he embarked on his record-setting racing career.

"I first made inquiries about becoming an Australian citizen in the early 1970s, but one way or another I never followed it through," Moffat said. "I love Australia, obviously, and have long considered myself Australian.

"Over recent months I decided I needed to get on with my citizenship application. I felt it was time to stop being a foreigner in the country I love and have lived in for so long.

"I suppose this makes me a fair dinkum Aussie now - after all these years."

The Chairman of the AGPC, Mr Ronald Walker, AC, CBE, congratulated Moffat on his citizenship and said he would be invited to join the modern stars of Australian motor racing in the V8 Supercar Parade Lap on the Saturday of the 2004 Foster's Australian Grand to be held at Melbourne's Albert Park from March 4-7.

"While Allan's great victories were at tracks other than Albert Park, he has become a great friend and supporter of the Grand Prix since the event came to Melbourne in 1996," Mr Walker said.

"The match races Allan and Peter Brock had at the Grand Prix a few years back in an old Ford Falcon and Holden Torana, and more recently the speed comparisons with Allan driving a BMW road car against a V8 Supercar and a Formula One car, have been among the most popular features of the events we've staged."

While these days Moffat is associated with BMW Australia, the official vehicle supplier to the AGPC, his record sees him regarded as the country's greatest racer of Ford cars.
He won the Australian Touring Car Championship in 1973, '76, '77 and '83 - the first three times in Ford Falcons and the last in a Mazda RX-7.

He won the Bathurst 500 in 1970 and '71 and the Bathurst 1000 in 1973 and '77 - all four of those victories in Ford Falcons. However, he is perhaps most famous for the mighty 1969 Trans Am Ford Mustang he raced to 101 victories.

Moffat received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 1978 for exceptional services to motor sport.
While Moffat, 64, has not retained any of his race cars, die-cast models have been made of almost all the machines he raced and are now highly-prized collectors' items. He was filmed and photographed with many of those models at today's ceremony.

His greatest racing rival, Peter Brock, led a rendition of the national anthem, Advance Australia Fair, as the ceremony came to its conclusion.

Minister Hardgrave said Moffat would be a role model for other people with a long association with Australia who were eligible permanent residents but had not yet taken the final step of becoming Australian citizens.

Mr Hardgrave said there were more than 900,000 people Australia-wide who were eligible permanent residents yet to become Australian citizens, and that choosing to become a citizen was an expression of a commitment to Australia and its people.