Walker Racing

Walker Racing

Walker Racing is a racing team founded by Derrick Walker in 1991 racing originally in the CART Championship Car series. Presently the team competes in the Atlantic Championship series.

Early success

The team fielded Scott Goodyear on a full time basis who won at Michigan and nearly won the 1992 Indianapolis 500 who was joined beginning with the 1993 Indianapolis 500 by Willy T. Ribbs who raced with the team until the end of the 1994 season. The team ran a third full-time car in 1993 for Hiro Matsushita. Goodyear was replaced at the beginning of the 1994 season by Robby Gordon who raced with the team with Valvoline sponsorship until 1996. Gordon raced alongside teammate Mark Smith in 1994 who had a generally unsuccessful season, failing to qualify for the Indy 500 and finishing 19th in points. Smith was replaced by rookie Christian Fittipaldi in 1995 who finished second in the Indy 500 and finished 15th in points. As a results of the CART-IRL split in 1996, the Walker team elected to participate in both races with Gordon and Fredrik Ekblom driving in the U.S. 500 and Mike Groff and racing in the 1996 Indianapolis 500. In 1997 Gil de Ferran took over the Valvoline car and he was the runner up in the championship that year despite not scoring a victory. De Ferran stayed with the team until 1999, a year where he finally broke through and scored his first victory for the team, the team's first since Gordon's win at Detroit in 1996.

A series of pay drivers

With no driver or sponsorship for the 2000 season, the team was forced to take on pay driver Shinji Nakano who finished a disappointing 24th in points. Meanwhile, the team entered the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series in 2000 with rookie female driver Sarah Fisher who was inconsistent but fast in her two years with the team, scoring a career-best finish of 2nd place at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2001. Nakano was replaced in the team's CART entry in 2001 by countryman Tora Takagi who brought Pioneer Electronics sponsorship to the team. Takagi managed slightly improved results over Nakano scoring 10 top-10 finishes in his two seasons with the team. The team also attempted to field Oriol Servia in the 2002 Indianapolis 500 but he failed to qualify. Takagi left to the IRL in 2003 and the team was left without full-time sponsorship. The sponsorship void was filled by Mexican driver Rodolfo Lavin who brought Corona sponsorship. Walker ran Darren Manning full-time in a second car with a variety of different sponsors and he finished 9th in points while Lavin only managed 18th. Both drivers were gone for 2004 as the series morphed into the Champ Car World Series. Brazilian Mario Haberfeld drove the team's only full time car. Late in that season Australian businessman Craig Gore bought into the team and it became Team Australia.

Team Australia

In 2005 the team took an Australian turn due to its new ownership, with the addition of Aussie Vineyards sponsorship and Austraian rookie driver Marcus Marshall joining Canadian veteran Alex Tagliani as the team returned to two full-time cars. Will Power made his debut in a third car at the 2005 Lexmark Indy 300 in Australia and replaced Marshall for the season finale in Mexico. The pair of Tagliani and Power continued with the team in 2006 and Tagliani was replaced by 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Series champion Simon Pagenaud in 2007. Power won two races in 2007 including the season opener in Las Vegas, the team's first victory since Gil De Ferran was with the team.

Walker initially indicated that he believed that the Champ Car World Series had run its last race and he was preparing to race in the IRL IndyCar Series in 2008. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/rpm/news/story?seriesId=5&id=3243165 Owner Walker making plans to compete in rival league] , Associated Press, February 12, 2008] However, on on March 9 the team announced that it would not race in the IndyCar Series in 2008 as it was unable to find adequate funding to do so. [ [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/racing/wires/03/09/3010.ap.car.irl.open.wheel.merger.walker.1st.ld.writethru.0225/ Walker Racing won't be making switch from Champ Car to IndyCar Series] , Associated Press, March 9, 2008]

Drivers

CART/CCWS

*flagicon|SUI Jon Beekhuis (1992)
*flagicon|AUS David Besnard (2004)
*flagicon|BRA Gil de Ferran (1997-1999)
*flagicon|MEX Luis Diaz (2003)
*flagicon|SWE Fredrik Ekblom (1996)
*flagicon|BRA Christian Fittipaldi (1995)
*flagicon|USA A. J. Foyt (1992)
*flagicon|USA Memo Gidley (1999)
*flagicon|CAN Scott Goodyear (1991-1993, 1996)
*flagicon|USA Robby Gordon (1994-1996)
*flagicon|USA Mike Groff (1992, 1996)
*flagicon|BRA Mario Haberfeld (2004)
*flagicon|JPN Naoki Hattori (1999)
*flagicon|USA Bryan Herta (2000)
*flagicon|MEX Rodolfo Lavín (2003)
*flagicon|USA Buddy Lazier (1991)
*flagicon|GBR Darren Manning (2003)
*flagicon|AUS Marcus Marshall (2005)
*flagicon|JPN Hiro Matsushita (1993)
*flagicon|JPN Shinji Nakano (2000)
*flagicon|FRA Simon Pagenaud (2007)
*flagicon|AUS Will Power (2005-2007)
*flagicon|USA Willy T. Ribbs (1991-1994)
*flagicon|USA Mark Smith (1994)
*flagicon|CAN Alex Tagliani (2005-2006, 2008)
*flagicon|JPN Tora Takagi (2001-2002)
*flagicon|CAN Michael Valiante (2004)
*flagicon|NED Charles Zwolsman (2005)

IRL IndyCar Series

*flagicon|CAN Paul Tracy (2008)
*flagicon|USA Sarah Fisher (2000-2001)
*flagicon|USA Mike Groff (1996)

References


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