Monday, December 13, 2010

Driven Personalities - Tom Walkinshaw

I had the pleasure of knowing Tom Walkinshaw through some pretty interesting times, first meeting him in Kidlington, Oxford in 1981. I remember thinking, "This guy's a tough nut, I'd hate to be on the wrong side of him." Fortunately, I was mostly on the right side of Tom, and we enjoyed a good friendship.

There were several times I had to negotiate with him in the business of motor sport, but it was pretty one-sided because Tom mostly ended up with what he wanted, and he had the uncanny knack of convincing you that it was what you wanted too.

This photo, from my friend Les Hughes of Australian Jaguar magazine, shows Tom and I, with JRA colleagues John Shingleton (background) and Gerry Cronin (on Tom's left) enjoying the celebrations at Mount Panorama, Bathurst in 1985, after the TWR team's Jaguar XJ-S's came home in first and third place.

That was an expensive exercise for JRA Limited, but well worth it because the company sold every XJ-S bound for Australia for the following 12 months!

Tom Walkinshaw was tough, but a man of his word. Whatever agreement you struck with him, he delivered as promised. He was a thorough professional, and when he presented a racing team at the track it was top notch, and usually a winner! He was a trailblazer, a lateral thinker, a great competitor, and (above all) a canny businessman.

Despite his fighting spirit he lost his battle with cancer at 64, and that's a real shame because the Scotsman's wry humour will be missed.

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