Tom Walkinshaw (R.I.P., 1946-2010)
Former Formula 1 and Sportscar boss, Tom Walkinshaw has passed away at the age of 64. The Scot had been suffering from cancer for some time, before eventually succumbing to the disease.
Walkinshaw started out as a racer in the late-60’s, where he competed in Midget’s and Formula Ford’s, eventually winning the Scottish FF1600 Championship.
Later he contested in many different classes of racing, included Formula 2, Formula 5000 and Formula 3 – in the later class, he broke his ankle badly at the wheel of a March. In the mid-70’s, Walkinshaw took to Touring Car racing and come 1976, he established Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR). He would continue to race for several more years, before retiring in 1988 to concentrate on TWR.
Before hanging up his helmet, Walkinshaw won the European Touring Car title for Jaguar. Under the TWR banner, Walkinshaw oversaw Jaguar secure three Sportscar titles and two victories at the Le Mans 24 Hour Race (1988 and 1990).
Walkinshaw joined the Benetton Formula 1 team as Engineering Director in 1991 and would oversee not only the drafting of Michael Schumacher from Jordan Grand Prix, but also the German’s first two titles.
Walkinshaw bought 50% of the Ligier team with Benetton team principal, Flavio Briatore, but after falling out with the Italian, he bought the Arrows Formula 1 team, recruiting reigning Champion Damon Hill in the process.
Despite the occasional good result (including nearly winning the 1997 Hungarian Grand Prix), Arrows struggled for the next few years and eventually collapsed in 2002, with Walkinshaw leaving the sport to head to the V8 Supercar series in Australia.
Following several years running or co-owning several squads, he created Walkinshaw Racing in 2009 to run two cars in the V8 Supercup for Paul Drumbrell and David Reynolds. They returned for a second season this year with Andrew Thomson and Fabian Coulthard.
Admittedly I had never met the chap, but whenever he was interviewed, he always came across as quite a character devoid of much the modern day corporate chirping associated with motorsports.
He will be missed.
Here’s video of Tom Walkinshaw’s pole lap at the 1985 Bathurst 1000 race in his TWR Jaguar XJS.