Derrick Walker, the IndyCar President of Competition and Operations, has decided to step down after this year’s season-ending Grand Prix of Sonoma on Augut 30.
“I have appreciated the opportunity to work closely with the team owners, drivers and teams at INDYCAR. After two and a half racing seasons, I believe the timing is right to move on to other opportunities,” Walker said.
The 70-year-old Brit’s motorsport experience dates back to the 1960s. Between 1970-1975, he was chief mechanic for the Brabham Formula 1 team before joining its driver John Watson in moving to the Penske team, which was in its second year of Grand Prix racing.
While Penske would exit Formula 1 at the end of that year, Walker stayed with the operation and headed up its manufacturing plant in England before being promoted to Vice President of the racing team. During his time, the team claimed four CART PPG titles and four Indianapolis 500 wins.
He moved to the Ione Porsche IndyCar team, taking over the team’s management after the death of Al Holbert. When the team went under at the end of the year, Walker purchased the assets of the team and formed the Walker Motorsports.
The team enjoyed occasional successes and in 2004 he sold a shareholding to Australian businessmen Craig Gore and John Fish. Now rebranded Team Australia, the outfit took until 2007 to notch its first victory, with Will Power winning the Champ Car Grand Prix of Las Vegas and his teammate Simon Pagenaud shining in the second car. The team ceased operating a year later, and Walker subsequently moved across to the IndyCar operation and his current role in 2013.
Walker has made several important contributions that have not only done great things for the series but also advanced INDYCAR as a sanctioning body. During his time, he greatly assisted in securing Boston as a new event on the 2016 calendar, successfully introduced the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis last year, spearheaded additional investment to improve technology in Race Control and helped lead innovation into the IndyCar aerodynamic body kits.
His focus on continuous safety advancement resulted in changes to the cars’ underwing, making them a lot more stable and strengthening sidepods, further protecting the drivers.
CEO of Hulman & Company, parent of INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Mark Miles spoke of Walker’s hard work and dedication to the sport.
“We have benefited from Derrick’s extensive racing experience, his tireless effort and his passion for INDYCAR, and he will be missed,” said Miles. “We appreciate the thoughtful way Derrick has planned his transition and wish him well in his future endeavours.”
A search for his replacement is underway.
Image via Motorsport.com
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