THE Walkinshaw family are perhaps the most closely tied to Holden due to their strong ties to the brand in Australian touring car racing, but they have forged partnerships with many brands during their time in the sport.
Here’s a quick overview:
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The relationship with Holden racing products is the longest in TWR racing history, spanning the end of the TWR empire in 2002, the rise of Walkinshaw Racing at the end of the decade and its evolution into Walkinshaw Andretti United in 2018.
TWR’s first track adventure with Holden began in late 1986 when the team acquired an ex-Holden Dealer Team Commodore and built one of its own as part of a failed bid to tackle the first World Touring Car Championship.
By the end of the year, TWR had won the tender to become Holden’s partner in the start-up of Holden Special Vehicles, leading to the inauguration of the Holden Racing Team in 1990.
The racing team, which bore the subtle TWR branding at various times in its existence, became the dominant team in Australian touring car racing under the moniker Holden Racing Team.
While TWR is best known for campaigning with Jaguars in sports car racing, their first success actually came in the 1970s with BMW.
Walkinshaw and John Fitzpatrick hung on to claim a memorable home win at the 1976 Silverstone round in a BMW 3.5 CSL, fending off a works Kremer Porsche 935 to claim TWR’s first major international victory.
The sports car entry showcased a strong relationship between Walkinshaw and the German marque; TWR has prepared and raced BMWs in touring car racing including the European Touring Car Championship, British Saloon Championship and Spa 24 Hours.
TWR also prepared the cars for the BMW County Challenge, a series whose drivers then included rising stars Nigel Mansell and Martin Brundle, as well as celebrity guests like Barry Sheene, and the team also raced a pair of cars in the BMW M1. Procar Championship which supported the Formula 1 Grands Prix in 1979.
While the Capri was still the car to have in the British Saloon Car Championship, TWR pivoted to the rotary-engined Mazda RX-7 for the 1979 season.
Seemingly a class contender, Walkinshaw rode one to outright victory at Donington, but fell short of the title thanks to a points system that aided the class’s continued success.
Win Percy took the wheel in 1980 and won back-to-back championships, while Walkinshaw and Belgian racer Pierre Dieudonné drove a Mazda TWR to victory at the 1981 24 Hours of Spa.
As Percy won the overall British title in the Mazda, TWR also inherited another factory-supported class entry.
Audi joined the British Saloon Car Championship in 1980 with Stirling Moss returning from retirement to lead the driver lineup.
After another team had raced the cars for the initial season, TWR took over in 1981 with Moss joined by 21-year-old Martin Brundle beginning a relationship with Walkinshaw that would provide a pair of Le Mans wins and a drive with the Benetton F1. team.
Rover’s Fastback Vitesse was at the forefront of touring car racing across Europe in the 1980s, often led by TWR-built machinery.
Their Rovers won races in the European, British and French Touring Car Championships, winning two titles in the latter – although they lost the 1983 British title due to eligibility issues and the 1986 European title due to a bizarre scoring error recognized after the end of the season. .
TWR Rovers also took a class win in the 1984 Bathurst 1000 in Mobil colors and impressed in the 1986 New Zealand Nissan-Mobil 500 Series in a stunning Whittaker Peanut Slab livery in Chocolate Metallic.
Ironically, TWR’s initial involvement with Rover had nothing to do with touring car racing: it built the Range Rover that French racing and rally star René Metge used to win the Paris Rally- Dakar of 1981!
TWR was synonymous with Jaguar throughout the 1980s in touring car and sports car racing.
The team made the big V12-powered XJ-S coupés competitive in touring car racing, with Walkinshaw winning the 1984 European Touring Car Championship aboard the patriotic livery Jaguar, as well as the endurance in the 24 Hours of Spa that year.
The Jaguars are best known in Australia for their raid on the 1985 Bathurst 1000, where Walkinshaw took pole position with a blistering lap in the Hardie’s Heroes Top 10 Shootout, before John Goss and Armin Hahne claimed a popular victory in the race.
Touring car success was a springboard for TWR to take Jaguar into the World Endurance Championship in the mid-1980s, and its range of XJR sports car prototypes earned the marque a pair of championship triumphs. of the world in 1987 and 1991, a pair of Le Mans 24 Hour Victories in 1988 and 1990, more successful in the North American-based IMSA series.
TWR returned to touring car racing at the start of the two-litre Super Touring era, causing a stir by fielding a pair of Volvo 850 Estates in the 1994 British Touring Car Championship.
The popular wagons only lasted one season in England – one dropped in 1995 to compete in Australia’s Super Touring Championship – before TWR switched to the 850 saloon.
However, it was the sleek S40 model that brought the brand its greatest successes: Rickard Rydell drove one to the British Touring Car Championship title in 1998, while he and Jim Richards won the victory for Volvo in that year’s AMP Bathurst 1000.
Yes, the Walkinshaw family’s racing history already includes a stint with the ‘blue oval’.
Tom Walkinshaw started his career in Formula Ford and actually became a works Ford driver in touring car racing in the early 1970s, and he continued to drive Ford Capris after founding TWR and despite his relationship with BMW.
When he and Fitzpatrick took that narrow victory in the BMW 3.5 CSL at Silverstone, it was the Englishman who drove the final stint as Walkinshaw had already flown into Thruxton, where he piloted his Capri to victory in a round of the British Saloon Car Championship. !
Tom’s Ford years also proved pivotal in the life of Ryan Walkinshaw, who shared a story when announcing Ford’s WAU deal.
“My mum was quick to remind me that she met my dad 47 years ago yesterday driving a Ford Capri at Spa,” he said.
“So the relationship with Ford, for my family, actually goes back a long time, it’s just not as well known in Australia as our relationship with General Motors-Holden.”
Tom Walkinshaw’s involvement with Formula 1 team Benetton also came during his Ford engine days in the early 1990s, culminating in Michael Schumacher’s first world championship win in 1994.
Before its factory Holden status in Supercars ended, Walkinshaw Racing had branched out beyond Supercars and into GT racing with Porsche.
The team raced a factory-backed Porsche 911 GT3R in the 2016 Australian GT Championship, maintaining a presence in the category for the next two seasons.
Walkinshaw Racing also entered a pair of works-backed entries at the 2017 12 Hours of Bathurst, the first time Porsche had launched any form of factory assault on the event.