SPEEDWAY, Ind. — For years Derrick Walker talked about the “Dark Side” of racing which was working for in a technical capacity for a racing series. After all, as a team owner or race strategist, series management could be a gigantic thorn in the direction of a racing team.
On Monday, Walker officially moved to the “Dark Side” when he was named president, operations & competition of IndyCar, effective May 27 (Read The Press Release Here).
Hulman & Company chief executive officer Mark Miles made the announcement on Monday and the 68-year-old Walker is prepared to work for the “dark side.”
“Funny you should say that,” Walker said. “That is a favorite quote of mine. I am going to the ‘dark side’ and happily so. It is a lot to learn. Fortunately there are a lot of good people at IndyCar that have been around a heck of a lot longer on this side of the fence than me. So I expect to be on a very steep learning curve and find my place in how to influence or how to help steer the governing body.
“I think when you look at the quality of the field of IndyCar; it demands a strong governing body that has a vision and the leadership that is required to match the quality of our teams. We have a responsibility and obligation to be as good as we can as a governing body. So hopefully I can fit into that matrix somewhere there.”
Before taking over at IndyCar, Walker will fulfill his duties as general manager at Ed Carpenter Racing as it continues its quest for a victory in the 97th Indianapolis 500 on May 27.
“While we will miss Derrick being a part of Ed Carpenter Racing, we are excited about his new opportunity to join the leadership team at IndyCar,” Carpenter said. “Derrick has done a phenomenal job for ECR. He really was the architect of our team, and helped us establish a very strong foundation that will continue to lead to future successes. I am confident that he will do an outstanding job at IndyCar. He will be an asset there that will also help the race teams within the series. Although we wish him well, we will enjoy our last month working together, and if all goes according to plan, we will drink milk together at the end of the month before he moves on to his new responsibilities.”
Walker helped create a winning program for Carpenter, who drove to victory in the 2012 season-ending 500-mile race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
There has been plenty of support for Walker taking this position and former IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard tried to hire him in the past. Bernard was ousted from his role last October and Miles is making the major decisions for IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Corporation as the Hulman & Co. CEO.
Miles wanted a strong leader for the competition side of the business and his selection of Walker drew some positive reviews on Gasoline Alley.
“I think Derrick Walker is a perfect choice,” said Team Penske driver Will Power, who drove for Walker in the Champ Car Series from 2005-2007 as part of the Team Australia operation that also included Craig Gore and John Fish as team owners. “He is a brilliant man who understands all facets of racing and I think his time as a team owner will be very important in his new role with IndyCar because he knows what the teams are faced with.”
Mike Hull is the managing director of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing and also applauded Walker’s hiring.
“I think it’s a great selection because of the wealth of experience that he has is hard to match and he provides relevance to the direction that IndyCar wants to go and Mark Miles is creating positive change by hiring people like Derrick. Innovation comes from the generation Derrick and I both represent. I understand technology and innovation has been reigned in a bit by cost containment but I think there still has to be a positive way for us to tell the positive story of technology in IndyCar racing because it is well-advanced of other forms of motorsports but takes it on the chin because it is referred to as a spec series.
“I think the fact he has a broad spectrum of experience and he is current to what IndyCars do currently. That has a lot of value and has a lot of weight and it moves us in the right direction.
“It moves the needle.”