Keeping It Off the Wall|
by Ed Donath
Tight Rope Walker
Cairo, NYŚUnlike so many latter day Champ Car World Series team owners who took on ride buyers when they could not produce enough revenue, Derrick Walker has always been able to acquire at least enough sponsorship to keep his team racing. Walker's success at doing so when others were unable reflects on his work ethic, his creativity, his straightforwardness, and his likeability.
Never a whiner, whenever a pit reporter's microphone got stuck in his face after a crash, a breakdown, or some unexplainable injustice, Walker always spoke more objectively than any of us would ever expect him to; more objectively than any of us could ever hope to speak under similar circumstances.
With a stellar tech/mech background prior to becoming a CART team owner in 1993, Derrick Walker's resume includes stints in Formula One with Brabham Racing followed by Team Penske in CART. Long-time Walker Motorsports sponsors Valvoline and Cummins stuck with Walker through the thick and thin of Robby Gordon and Gil de Ferran.
So where did poor Derrick Walker go wrong? What led to the events that precipitated the following posting at his team's website?
"I was extremely disappointed by Craig Gore's announcement to take Team Australia, our driver, and sponsors to KV Racing. Contrary to Gore's recent statements, I developed the concept of Team Australia in 2005. Over a three-year period, Team Australia had great success in using motor sports as a marketing tool for Australian companies, including Gore's winery, Aussie Vineyards. Despite the success of the team, Gore defaulted on his financial obligations to Team Australia throughout the 2007 season. Walker Racing was forced to loan the team substantial funds in order to continue competing in the Champ Car World Series. Walker Racing is still owed in excess of $1,500,000 by Gore and his related entities. I relied upon Gore's repeated assurances that he would fulfill his commitments to the Team Australia program and to me. Until Gore's recent announcement to take Team Australia to KV Racing, I was led to believe that we would be moving forward together as a team in 2008. I believe that Gore's actions are a serious default of his contractual commitments and fiduciary obligations as a business partner. I have given Gore ample opportunities to resolve these disputes informally. Unfortunately, it appears I will have no choice but to take legal action."
Having spoken with Derrick Walker several times since 1994 and having observed him up close in press conferences and TV interviews, I must assume that his recent statement is not only accurate and objective but probably understated, as well.
While sleazoids like Craig Gore and Kevin Kalkhoven did their best to hide their underhanded dealings and intentions from all of us, Derrick Walker was an insider long before their arrival on the Champ Car scene and surely knows and understands more of what became of American open-wheel racing than most.
We have all been betrayed by the aforementioned and by the inheritor of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway before them but few of us have lost as much as Derrick Walker has over the years as a result of that betrayal. Walker's Champ Car longevity is a testimonial to both his abilities and to his passion for our beloved speed sport.
Who will be the next well-respected Champ Car personality forced to publicly renounce and/or enter into litigation with the Swindlers from Down Under? Judging by his close proximity to them, my best guess is that we'll be hearing from Jimmy Vasser any time now.
---Got a comment?---
Visit the Ed Donath blogs and rant away!
Copyright © 2008 by Ed Donath and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.
Ed Donath Archive