Walker Racing withdraws from IndyCar Program UPDATE In this article posted on the Walker Racing website, Derrick Walker explains to the fans "Where we go from here...the story behind the story!"
Over the last 48 hours we have been flooded with calls and emails from fans and colleagues offering their support and we thank you for it all. We really do. It means a lot to all of us at Walker Racing. Now here is the story behind the story!
Up until a few days ago, I was of the belief, because of commitments that had been previously made to me, that we were to continue the Team Australia program into 2008. In addition, we had other new sponsorship opportunities that were progressing towards an agreement but, suddenly, both deals evaporated in the span of two days. Faced with that situation, I met with the employees and advised them of the difficult road ahead and the fact that we were starting all over again with new sponsor relationships. As of right now, these commitments and new opportunities have ruined the great plans we had been working on for the last two months.
Although the Team Australia program and relationship with Craig Gore has ended, as well as his commitment to move forward with us into IndyCar, Walker Racing is not out of business, nor have we thrown in the towel. Walker Racing still has the Atlantic program going. In fact, I am currently in California for the Atlantic test with Greg and Leo Mansell, and Kevin Lacroix.
The employees are the biggest asset of a race team. Whether it's driving the car, engineering it or taking care of the trucks and equipment, the employees are the most important asset, period!
Having said that, my first meeting was with the employees. I shared with them the bad news and the difficult situation we were in. I asked them to give us until Monday, but to be aware because I had my work cut out for me. We released the statement in as professional and businesslike of a manor to inform everyone that the Team Australia partnership had ended along with the new sponsorships. Never sugar coated it, nor did we hang out our dirty laundry in public.
As for my partnership with Craig Gore, we have some loose ends to sort out, which Craig has assured me they will be taken care of. Through these last couple of years, Craig had the passion for the Team Australia program and time will tell if Craig will stay in IndyCar, but for us it was unfortunately the end of the Team Australia partnership. It is part of the business we are in today. Things change and we have to move on.
So we are not out of racing by any means. There is a huge mountain to climb, but if I can get the job done in time we will be there at Homestead. I will not kid you, it will be tough. The Atlantic program will definitely continue, and we are looking at A1GP to possibly help out some other race teams and take that time to work our way back to IndyCar in 2009. It's the best time to be in open wheel racing and we want to get back as soon as we can. Stay tuned, we will keep you posted
UPDATE Robin Miller chronicles the events that led to Walker Racing closing down in this Speedtv.com article. One of the most resilient and over-achieving teams in major open-wheel racing of the past two decades is out of business.
“I’ve been keeping this thing going for the last four months because I thought we could work things out, but I finally ran out of time and money. I had to pull the plug,” said Derrick Walker, whose CART team started in 1991 with Willy T. Ribbs and actor Bill Cosby. “I dropped the bomb on my team Friday and it was the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do. Everybody was shocked, to say the least, because I had been optimistic we were going to get sponsorship.” More at SPEEDtv.com
03/09/08 Reluctantly, Walker Racing has been forced to withdraw its attempt to join the IndyCar Series for 2008. The racing partnership of "Team Australia" and the association with Australian businessman Craig Gore, drivers Will Power and Simon Pagenaud, has also come to an end.
Notwithstanding a commitment for 2008, it came down to the lack of funding. A lengthy search for new sponsorship partners drew a blank, so Walker Racing had to close the program officially on Friday.
“It's a great pity that the team has had to abandon our IndyCar program. So much work by so many has gone into the Team Australia program over the last three and a half years, but now it will remain unfinished business for us. I wish my co-partner well with his new venture and so to Will and Simon and all the employees, associates and fans who have given me the opportunity. Many thanks,” said Walker Racing Owner, Derrick Walker. For further updates on Walker Racing, please visit www.walkerracing.com.