Tom Walkinshaw, owner of the Holden Racing Team (HRT) and a long-time fixture in racing and performance circles, died last night at the age of 64 after battling cancer.
Among his exploits and accomplishments, Walkinshaw's racing history included a career as an F1 team manager and owner at Benetton and Arrows, along with his time behind the wheel in various Formula series', Le Mans and in touring car championships.
Although his Tom Walkinshaw Racing group folded in the 90s after the failure of the Arrows F1 team, Walkinshaw would not be beaten.
In Australia, the Scottish-born Walkinshaw had a long-standing relationship with the racing fraternity that included a Jaguar-sponsored assault on the Bathurst 1000, the birth of Holden Special Vehicles in 1987, the creation of the HRT powerhouse in 1988 and a string of V8 Supercar titles.
Despite his passing, Walkinshaw's dreams are expected to live on at HRT and Holden Special Vehicles.
“Tom was an amazing character, a dedicated family man and a shrewd businessman. His dynamic vision for HSV lives on in all of us who were touched by his brilliance, ambition and seemingly endless energy," HSV Chairman Jeffrey Browne said today.
"Tom expressed to me during his illness, the need to ensure processes that kept his legacy intact and I am proud that we have successfully achieved that, from Board level to the factory floor. I will miss a great friend and colleague but I am determined that his life’s work will live on in HSV.”
Holden boss Mike Devereux offered the Australian carmaker's condolences to Walkinshaw's family today, reflecting on his influence and achievements in Australia.
"On behalf of the men and women at Holden, I'd like to extend our deepest sympathies to Tom's family, friends and co-workers across the world," Mr Devereux said.
"For more than 20 years Tom's pursuit of excellence helped forge our brand's reputation as a performance leader both on and off the track through the creation of Holden Special Vehicles and the Holden Racing Team.
"From the original 1988 Group A Commodore that will forever be known as a "Walkinshaw" to the extraordinary W427 20 years later, Tom's work was truly iconic. His contribution not only to Holden, but the automotive industry is legendary and will never be forgotten."
While Walkinshaw spent much of his later life in the UK, where he also managed the Gloucestershire Rugby Club, his influence and his unique role in Australia's V8 racing and performance community was always felt.