Tom Walkinshaw

Born:
14th August 1946
Mauldslie Farm, Penicuik, Midlothian, Scotland
Died:
12th December 2010 (Aged 64)
Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, England, cancer
Nationality:
British
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Tom Walkinshaw was a touring car champion both as driver and team owner. He founded the most successful motor racing consultancy of the late-20th century but is perhaps best remembered for his unhappy Formula 1 experiences and his time as Chairman of the British Racing Drivers' Club.

Early racing career

With interest in the sport sparked by a local garage owner’s exploits in a Mini, Walkinshaw raced an MG Midget in 1968. He then bought a Formula Ford Hawke with which he won the 1969 Scottish title. A move to Formula 3 in 1970 ended with broken ankles after crashing at Brands Hatch’s Paddock Hill Bend.

He raced an Ecurie Ecosse March 712M in Formula 2 during 1971 and a GRD for the next two seasons but without success. So Walkinshaw switched to touring cars in 1974 and his works Ford Capri won its class in the British Championship.

Tom Walkinshaw Racing

He formed Tom Walkinshaw Racing in 1976 and raced a BMW CSL in the World Sportscar Championship. Both driver and team scored their breakthrough victory at the Silverstone Six Hours. He won the Tourist Trophy at the Northamptonshire circuit for the first of four times in 1977 and Win Percy twice won the BTCC in a TWR Mazda RX-7 in 1980 and 1981.

Walkinshaw the driver also won the 1981 Spa 24 Hours to confirm his prowess in saloons. Both the European and British series switched to Group A rules in 1982. Steve Soper won the 1983 BTCC with a TWR Rover only to be disqualified when his car was found to have contravened the rules.

Success with Jaguar

Walkinshaw’s next manufacturer partnership captured the imagination of British race fans. He entered and drove a British Racing Green Jaguar XJ-S in the ETCC. Having come close for two years, Walkinshaw dominated in 1984 and won both the Spa 24 Hours and the championship.

He retired from driving in 1986 but, buoyed by international success, TWR and Jaguar entered both the World Sportscar and IMSA championships. Titanic duels with Porsche and then Mercedes-Benz lit up the former and TWR Jaguar won both drivers’ and team titles in 1987, 1988 and 1991. The prime goal – Jaguar victories at Le Mans for the first time since 1957 – were duly achieved in 1988 and then 1990.

British Racing Drivers' Club and Formula 1

Walkinshaw served as Chairman of the British Racing Drivers’ Club but that ended amid controversy surrounding his plans for the Silverstone Motor Group in 1992. He was Director of Engineering at the Benetton F1 team from 1992 to 1994 and helped recruit Michael Schumacher.

With ambitions of F1 team ownership, he bought Arrows and enticed reigning world champion Damon Hill for the 1997 season. Unfortunately, that venture was ultimately unsuccessful and it finally closed its doors in December 2002. Saddled with Arrows’ debts, his TWR Group closed just months later.

Aside from his motor racing interests, Walkinshaw bought Gloucester Rugby Football Club in 1997 and served as the head of Premier Rugby from 1998 to 2002. He returned to motorsport with TWG (Tom Walkinshaw Group) in 2006 but died four years later after battling lung cancer.