IN MEMORIAM ROB WALKER

No doubt, Robert Ramsay Campbell Walker was one of the greatest private team owners in the motor racing business. Coming from a very wealthy family, the Johnny Walker whiskey dynasty, he had tried to be a racing driver in the 1930s, before World War II. broke out. His best international result was an 8th place in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Delehaye partnered by Ian Connell. During the war, Rob Walker had not great hope, that motorsport would survive. But shortly after the end of the war he again founded a small private team for Delahaye and Delage sports cars as he once had done before the great catastrophe. Not driving was his talent, but managing. So it was no wonder, that Rob Walker, Jack Brabham and Cooper technician Alf Francis were the driving force behind the middle-engine Cooper appearing first at the 1957 Monaco Grand Prix. It was the greatest revolution ever made in motorsport. It also definitely put the British constructors on the top of the whole business for the following 50 years.

Walker also cooperated with Lotus. In 1960 Sir Stirling Moss won the first of 79 Grand Prix overall for the Colin Chapman founded team - in a Lotus Climax 18 entered by the Scottish Rob Walker team, whose cars were not raced in the famous British Racing Green, but in the very special dark blue livery of Scotland. Rob Walker won 9 Grand Prix with his professionally organized crew, more than many works entries in the history of this sport, the last one in 1968 with Jo Siffert behind the steering-wheel of a Lotus Ford 49. Other great names were Maurice Trintignant, the French gentleman, who had won the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix (also the first ever victory for this make), Jochen Rindt (who had driven his first ever Grand Prix in a Walker Brabham B.R.M. at Zeltweg 1964) and Graham Hill, who had a fine return to Grand Prix Racing in Walker Lotus Ford 49s and 72s in 1970, after suffering from heavy leg injuries caused by a puncture at the 1969 United States Grand Prix of Watkins Glen.

For 1971 the team of Rob Walker, since 1970 sponsored by British tea brand Brooke Bond Oxo did a merger with Team Surtees for a two car entry of John himself and German driver Rolf Stommelen. In 1972 Rob Walker Team Surtees brought three cars to the track for former British motor-cycle world champion Mike Hailwood, Tim Schenken from Australia and Italy´s Andrea de Adamich. For 1973 the team´s drivers were again Hailwood, Carlos Pace from Brazil and in some Grand Prix young Jochen Mass from Germany. But the partnership between Walker and Surtees, in spite the lack of a Grand Prix victory a pretty successful one, ended suddenly in winter 1973/74. Mike Hailwood switched to Yardley McLaren and Rob Walker went with him, but sadly the Englishman had to retire from car racing after a very heavy crash into the armco barriers at the 1974 German Grand Prix on the Nuerburgring-Nordschleife. At the beginning of the 1970s Rob Walker also had got involved in journalism; he wrote Grand Prix reports for US-American magazine Road & Track. The last private car Rob Walker brought to the grid, was a Hesketh Ford 308 for Australian Alan Jones (together with Harry Stiller) for a few Grand Prix at the beginning of the 1975 season. Then the dark blue Scottish racing colours disappeared. Rob Walker died on 29th April 2002 in the age of 84 caused by a pneumonia.

J H

 

 

© 2002 by researchracing

 

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