President of Operations and Competition, INDYCAR
Derrick Walker has more than 40 years of racing experience, including 19 years as an owner of his own race team. At an early age, the native of Leven, Scotland, moved with his family to Western Australia, where he became hooked on “motorsports” after he saw his first street race in Northham, Western Australia. Walker’s family moved back to Scotland and at the age of 16, Walker went on to complete a five-year mechanics apprenticeship with Scotland’s largest bus company, Scottish Omnibus Ltd. At age 21, he joined the engineering company, Cortune Engineering Ltd., racing an ex-works Le Mans Austin Healey Sprite along with preparing customer sport racing cars.
He was a race mechanic for Ron Tauranac’s Motor Racing Development, LLC, before joining Roger Penske’s Grand Prix team in 1976 as chief mechanic with driver John Watson. Walker’s 13-year association with Penske began with F1 and evolved into the overall responsibility of management of Penske Cars Ltd., which designed and manufactured a series of Penske Indy cars in the Poole, Dorset, UK, facility. In late 1980, Walker moved to the United States to take up the position as Roger Penske’s vice president of racing with overall responsibility of the race team operations at Penske Racing, Inc. and the design and development of Penske’s Indy cars at Penske Cars, Ltd. During his tenure with the Penske organization, he succeeded in winning five Indianapolis 500 events, six Indy car championships and 28 Indy car races with drivers such as Mario Andretti, Tom Sneva, Rick Mears, Danny Sullivan, Al Unser and Bobby Unser.
In 1988, Walker accepted the position of general manager and the opportunity for an ownership share in Al Holbert’s Indy team, which had newly embarked on the Porsche Indy car program. He managed the program for two years following Holbert’s death in a plane crash.
Walker formed his own CART team, Walker Motorsports, Ltd., in late 1990. The team’s first event was the 1991 Indianapolis 500, where the team made history with driver Willy T. Ribbs and with help from entertainer Bill Cosby. Ribbs was the first African-American to qualify for the Indianapolis 500.
Throughout Walker’s 19 years as a team owner, he fielded multi-car teams in 414 races in IndyCar, Firestone Indy Lights and Formula BMW, earning six victories and 16 poles with drivers such as Gil de Ferran, Scott Goodyear, Christian Fittipaldi, Sarah Fisher, Alex Tagliani, Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Paul Tracy and others.
In 2010, after campaigning a small program of Firestone Indy Lights with driver Dan Clarke, Walker entered into the very competitive American Le Mans Series GT class with the Falken Tire RSR Porsche, winning at Mid-Ohio and the Baltimore street race. This unique program provided two primary challenges: A tire development platform and building a competitive team to race a customer RSR program. The 2013 season is the third for the Falken Tire Motorsports program. In addition, in late 2011, Walker contracted to build and manage Ed Carpenter Racing, a new IZOD Indy Car Series race team that in 2012 – its first season – won the 500-mile event at Fontana, Calif.
Walker also served an extended tenure as a member of the CART/Champ Car Board of Directors and also worked on the Rules and Compensation Committees.