BEYOND HOLDEN: WALKINSHAW’S OTHER MANUFACTURER DEALS

The Walkinshaw family has partnered with many manufacturers in motorsport other than Holden. Pics: an1images.com & Supplied

THE Walkinshaw family might be most closely linked with Holden due to its strong ties with the brand in Australian touring car racing, but it has enjoyed partnerships with many marques over its time in the sport.

Here is a quick rundown:

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TWR’s first Holden race came at the Nurburgring round of the 1987 World Touring Car Championship. Pic: an1images.com / Racepress

HOLDEN
The relationship with racing Holden products is the longest among TWR’s racing history, spanning the end of the TWR empire in 2002, the rise of Walkinshaw Racing at the close of the decade and its evolution into Walkinshaw Andretti United in 2018.

TWR’s first on-track adventure with Holden began at the end of 1986 when the squad acquired an ex-Holden Dealer Team Commodore and built one of its own as part of an aborted bid to tackle the inaugural World Touring Car Championship.

By year’s end, TWR had won the tender to become Holden’s partner in starting Holden Special Vehicles, leading to the inauguration of the Holden Racing Team in 1990.

The race team, which carried subtle TWR branding at various points of its existence, grew into Australian touring car racing’s dominant team under the Holden Racing Team moniker.

Walkinshaw on his way to winning the Silverstone round of the 1976 World Championship of Makes. Pic: Wiki Commons / Gillfoto

BMW
While TWR is best remembered for campaigning Jaguars in sports car racing, their first success actually came in the 1970s with BMW.

Walkinshaw and John Fitzpatrick hung on to take a memorable victory on home soil at the Silverstone round in 1976 aboard a BMW 3.5 CSL, holding off a works-support Kremer Porsche 935 to score TWR’s first major international race win.

The sports car entry headlined a solid relationship between Walkinshaw and the German marque; TWR prepared and ran BMWs in touring car races, including the European Touring Car Championship, British Saloon Car Championship and the Spa 24 Hours.

TWR also prepared the cars for the one-make BMW County Challenge, a series whose drivers included then rising stars Nigel Mansell and Martin Brundle, plus high-profile guests like Barry Sheene, and the squad also ran a pair of cars in the BMW M1 Procar Championship that supported Formula 1 Grands Prix in 1979.

MAZDA
While the Capri was still the car to have in the British Saloon Car Championship, TWR pivoted to the rotary-powered Mazda RX-7 for the 1979 season.

Ostensibly a class contender, Walkinshaw piloted one to an outright race win at Donington but fell short of the title courtesy of a points system that favoured consistent class success.

Win Percy took over driving duties for 1980 and claimed back-to-back championships, while Walkinshaw and Belgian racer Pierre Dieudonne drove a TWR Mazda to victory in the 1981 Spa 24 Hours.

Stirling Moss aboard an Audi during the 1980 BSCC; the cars would be taken over by TWR for 1981. Pic: Audi

AUDI
While Percy was winning the British title overall 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 line-up.

After another squad ran the cars for the initial season, TWR took over for 1981 with Moss joined by a 21-year-old Martin Brundle, beginning a relationship with Walkinshaw that would deliver a pair of Le Mans wins and a drive with the Benetton F1 team.

Walkinshaw at the wheel of one of his Bastos Rovers at the Donington round of the 1986 European Touring Car Championship. Pic: Supplied

ROVER
Rover’s fastback Vitesse was a front-runner in touring car racing throughout Europe during the 1980s, often led by TWR-built machines.

Their Rovers won races across the European, British and French Touring Car Championships, winning a pair of titles in the latter – although it lost the 1983 British title through eligibility issues and the 1986 European title through a bizarre scoring mistake recognised after the season had concluded.

The TWR Rovers also claimed a class win in the 1984 Bathurst 1000 in Mobil colours and impressed in New Zealand’s Nissan-Mobil 500 Series in 1986 in a stunning metallic chocolate Whittaker’s Peanut Slab livery.

Ironically, TWR’s initial involvement with Rover had nothing to do with touring car racing: it built the Range Rover that French race and rally star Rene Metge used to win the 1981 Paris-Dakar Rally!

Walkinshaw on his way to third place with Win Percy in the 1985 Bathurst 1000. Pic: an1images.com / Dale Rodgers

JAGUAR
TWR was synonymous with Jaguar throughout the 1980s across both touring car and sports car racing.

The team made the big V12-engined XJ-S coupes competitive in touring car racing, Walkinshaw winning the 1984 European Touring Car Championship aboard the patriotically liveried Jaguar, as well as claiming that year’s Spa 24 Hour endurance race.

The Jaguars are best remembered in Australia for their raid on the 1985 Bathurst 1000, where Walkinshaw took pole position with a storming lap in the Hardie’s Heroes Top 10 Shootout, before John Goss and Armin Hahne took 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 line of XJR prototype sports cars earnt the marque a pair of world championship triumphs in 1987 and 1991, a pair of Le Mans 24 Hours victories in 1988 and 1990, plus success in the North American-based IMSA Series.

Volvo earnt plenty of media coverage with their TWR-run 850 Estate in the 1994 British Touring Car Championship. Pic: Volvo

VOLVO
TWR returned to touring car racing early in the two-litre Super Touring era, making a splash 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 of them came down under in 1995 to race in Australia’s Super Touring Championship – before TWR switched to the 850 sedan.

However, it was the sleek S40 model that earnt the marque its greatest successes: Rickard Rydell piloted one to the 1998 British Touring Car Championship title, while he and Jim Richards claimed victory for Volvo in that year’s AMP Bathurst 1000.

This Ford Capri forms part of Zak Brown’s collection; it was once owned by Tom Walkinshaw and is representative of the cars he drove as a works Ford touring car driver in the early 1970s. Pic: Supplied

FORD
Yes, the Walkinshaw family’s racing history already includes a stint with the ‘blue oval’.

Tom Walkinshaw started his career in Formula Ford and in fact became a Ford works driver in touring car racing in the early 1970s, and he continued to race Ford Capris after founding TWR and despite his BMW relationship.

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 to Thruxton, where he was piloting 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 during the announcement of WAU’s Ford deal.

“My mum was pretty quick to remind me that she actually 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 period of time, it’s just not as well-known in Australia as our relationship with General Motors-Holden.”

Tom Walkinshaw’s involvement with the Benetton Formula 1 team also came during its Ford engine period in the early 1990s, culminating in Michael Schumacher’s maiden world championship victory in 1994.

Walkinshaw Racing entered a pair of factory-supported Porsches in the 2017 Bathurst 12 Hour. Pic: Porsche

PORSCHE
Prior to the end of its factory Holden status in Supercars, Walkinshaw Racing had branched out beyond Supercars and into GT racing with Porsche.

The squad ran a factory-supported 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 in the 2017 Bathurst 12 Hour, the first time Porsche had made any form of factory assault on the event.

Will Dale is V8 Sleuth's Head of Content - Digital. He began his media career as a breakfast radio newsreader before joining SPEED TV Australia and FOX SPORTS Australia in 2012 as its Digital Editorial Lead - Motorsport, covering all forms of motorsport both in Australia and internationally. He became part of the V8 Sleuth team in 2018.