Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tom Walkinshaw fades away...

Silk Cut Jaguar XJR-14 at Magny Cours, 1991. (Source: mulsannescorner.com)
Perhaps Y’all have heard that Tom Walkinshaw, the guiding force behind TWR (Tom Walkinshaw Racing) passed away on Sunday, December 12, 2010, at the tender age of 64yrs old – having succumbed to his 3-year battle against Cancer...

Tom Walkinshaw R.I.P. 1946-2010
So, I’m not gonna try recapping his illustrious Motorsports career, which has been done all over the Blogosphere... But instead I’ll simply touch upon a few aspects of how I remember Messer Walkinshaw.

I first became aware of Mister Walkinshaw during those heady Jaguar days – when those iconic blue & white Bud Light XJR-Jaguar IMSA GTP Prototypes were carving up the Sports Cars landscape... As I seem to recall the North America’s lead driver being Davy Jones, along with Price Cobb... Although I’m certain there were many more - as Raul Bosel, Martin “Billy Bob” Brundle and Arie Luyendyk most easily come to mind for me. Although I tend to remember something ‘bout Derek Daly doin’ 240mph+ on le Mulsanne Straight in those dominant Jaguar XJR-9’s... When the TWR-cars won the classic 24 Heurs du Mans twice, while gosh-gee-wilikers... I now seem to think someone name Eddie Cheever drove for The Cat too, eh?

And I mostly saw The Cat’s at; Yep! You guessed it... Portland International Raceway, as they always put on a very good show, albeit I had a most enjoyable outing whilst once attending an IMSA GTP race in San Diego, CA. As a guest of an ex-Jaguar Test Driver, who took me to sleepy ‘Ol Del Mar in a Jaguar XJS V-12 (making mincemeat of a Lincoln Mercury XKR-7? Who wanted to play with us...) to watch the super fast Bud Light twin turbo Jag’s dominate the field ‘round the Del Mar Horsetrack grounds... As I can’t remember exactly what year this was, ‘cept ‘Gentleman John (Andretti) was driving a gold & white Miller Beer Porsche 962 – which I’ve got pic’s of stashed awayz some where’s...

Yet my favourite Jaguar was the menacing looking XJR-14 green Silk Cut World Sports Car (WSC) racecar – which to me was most radical looking... A sorta Formula 1 racecar on Steroids, with the ubiquitous Airbox overheads of the extremely narrow cockpit surround. As I’d forgotten that that chassis was running a rebadged 3.5-liter normally aspirated Ford HB V-8, taken off of the 1990-91 Benetton-Ford’s lump, albeit slightly detuned in hopes of reliability concerns... As this was the era when Ford owned Jaguar and hence the Ford engine connection – as the HB lump was quite competitive in Formula One during this time period...

And although not directly concerning TWR, as Jaguar Racing F1 was born outta the Stewart Grand Prix concern, I’ll always chuckle to myself when recalling seeing ‘Scooter, nee Scott Pruett sandwiched between those Jagg-U-war Boyz Mark “Bicycles R-Us” Webber and Justin BIG UNIT Wilson; as Pruett was piloting a Bud Light Cat at Daytona that year...

And while Walkinshaw was instrumental in Benetton’s rise to power as a Formula One Champion, most notably for bringing their Technical knowledge to the forefront; not to mention bringing Ross Brawn to the party... Yet for Mwah, Tom was best known for poaching a very young German by the name of Michael Schumacher from EJ, (Eddie Jordan) before ultimately falling out with Flavour Flav (Flavio Briatore) and buying the Arrows Grand Prix team...

But sadly thru all of Walkinshaw’s accomplishments, my strongest memory of tom will always be the FUCK TOM! T-Shirts at the Nurburgring... Which I scribbled ‘bout in my Nurburgring, 2002 Trip recap; as apparently Yuhs simply DON’T PISS OFF the Dutch – Yuhs Here!

European GP: Nurburgring – June 21-23, 2002With evening having fallen, becoming dark outside, tired and feeling relaxed after the Bitburger’s; I fell asleep while Mary Ellen went out on her own; as she told me there were several drunks everywhere and that the Dutch seemed to be the rowdiest.

She told me they were wearing T-Shirts that said: “FUCK TOM!” What’s that all about? I just lay there laughing out loud… I explained how Tom Walkinshaw had just (let-go) fired Jos “THE BOSS” Verstappen from Arrows... Replacing him with “Heinz 57.” (Heinz Harald Frentzen) As apparently the Dutch are very loyal about their race drivers! As I still chuckle about this even now. It makes me very happy to see such devotion publicly displayed and as it turned out Walkinshaw was a total “Wanker!”


 

Nurburgring, 2002

You may also be interested in reading: The Other Tom Walkinshaw

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