LAMENTING THE LOSS OF TOM WALKINSHAW
Tributes flow for leading light Tom Walkinshaw, writes Craig Duff
MOTORSPORT and motoring industry icon Tom Walkinshaw has died aged 64. The Scottish-born businessman who once owned the Arrows F1 team and founded the race engineering and design empire TWR that spanned three continents, has lost a long battle with cancer.
His Australian legacy is the continuing strength of the Holden Special Vehicles and Holden Racing Team V8 Supercar products and brands that TWR helped to develop.
Walkinshaw formed a joint venture with Holden in 1987 to create HSV which led to the ‘‘Walkinshaw VL Commodore in 1988 with an aero-kit Superman would have struggled to fly with.
He founded the HRT race outfit in 1988 and, after losing the company during the collapse of the Arrows F1 team, he rejoined the V8 Supercar scene in 2005 and last year regained control of HRT from Mark Skaife.
TWR also campaigns the Walkinshaw Racing team in Bundaberg Red and Team Autobarn colours.
His long-time business associate and former HSV managing director John Crennan says: ‘‘I’m a great believer — only because I’ve seen it so many times with Holden at a dealership level — that operators don’t last forever, but names do.
‘‘ I saw enough to know that Holden Racing Team and Holden Special Vehicles will endure. Tom always had a philosophy that we were in this business to make your client’s brand grow and he’s succeeded in doing that.
‘‘As courageous as he was in his private battle, he was just as courageous in business to invest and persist with concepts well before we’d taken them to our partners for approval.’’
It was a sentiment repeated by HSV, whose official release marking Walkinshaw’s death noted: Tom Walkinshaw has made an incredible contribution to the landscape of Australian motor racing and automobile industry over many years and he will be sadly missed by many in the industry.
HSV managing director Phil Harding said: ‘‘Tom was a tremendous inspiration to me and the whole team at HSV, and while we will all miss him the HSV business continues as normal.
‘‘ While these events are moments to reflect and grieve, it is important to remember that it is the continuation and success of the business that will serve as the best way of honouring Tom’s memory, and we know this was his desire and the desire of his family.’’
Holden chairman and managing director Mike Devereux was another figure quick to pay tribute to Walkinshaw.
‘‘ On behalf of the men and women at Holden, I’d like to extend our deepest sympathies to Tom’s family, friends and coworkers across the world,’’ Devereux said.
‘‘For more than 20 years Tom’s pursuit of excellence helped forge our brand’s reputation as a per- formance leader both on and off the track through the creation of Holden Special Vehicles and the Holden Racing Team.
‘‘From the original 1988 Group A Commodore that will forever be known as a ‘Walkinshaw’ to the extraordinary W427 20 years later, Tom’s work was truly iconic.
‘‘His contribution not only to Holden but the automotive industry is legendary and will never be forgotten.’’
Ateco boss Neville Crichton grieves not just for the passing of a major industry figure but also a mate:
‘‘I remember him very fondly. He’s been a good mate for a long time and the motor industry and motor racing fraternity have lost a very great man.’’