Moments like this are always difficult. The motor racing world has lost two good people in recent days – two very different people but both passionate about the sport.
Tom Walkinshaw, racing driver, Grand Prix team owner, entrepreneur and rugby fan has died after a long and brave battle with cancer. Walkinshaw, a successful racer in his own right, made his mark as a team manager, a man who made things happen and who was intensely competitive. In 1984 he won the European Touring Car championship in a Jaguar XJS. His own TWR team later gave Jaguar its first win at Le Mans in 30 years and a World Sportscar Championship for Martin Brundle, who recently said he’d still be selling Toyotas in Norfolk if it hadn’t been for Walkinshaw.
Tom went on to be engineering director at Benetton, with Ross Brawn as technical director, and this partnership – along with Flavio Briatore – gave Michael Schumacher the first of his seven Formula 1 world titles. He famously took a young Schumacher away from the Jordan team, causing a great deal of publicity and not a little controversy. As well as being a passionate racing fan, Walkinshaw was a tough negotiator who built up his TWR Engineering empire on the back of his success as a driver and team owner.
After Benetton he bought a 50 per cent stake in Ligier before moving on again to take over the Arrows F1 team, employing Derek Warwick and Eddie Cheever, both of whom had driven sports cars for him. Arrows was the end of his F1 career but he went on to run an Australian touring car team, putting Holden back in the winners’ circle. A devoted rugby fan, he was chairman of Gloucester Rugby Club.
A memorial service will be held at Gloucester Cathedral on February 4, 2011 at midday.
Christopher Hilton, author of a huge number of motor racing books and biographies, died suddenly at the end of last month. He was a prolific writer who did much to popularise the sport and his Grand Prix Century will remain a useful and very readable reference book, which contains not only facts and figures, but also some good tales of seasons gone by. He is also known for his biographies of Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, James Hunt and Ken Tyrrell among many others, as well as a long and interesting look at the business of being a racer entitled Inside the Mind of the Grand Prix Driver.
A memorial service will be held at Harlow Crematorium at midday on December 22 followed by a celebration of his life at the Manor of Groves in Harlow.