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David Walker (racing driver)

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Dave Walker
Walker at the wheel of the Lotus 56B Formula One car during the 1971 Dutch Grand Prix
Born(1941-06-10)10 June 1941
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Died24 May 2024(2024-05-24) (aged 82)
Queensland, Australia
Formula One World Championship career
NationalityAustralia Australian
Active years19711972
TeamsTeam Lotus
Career points0
Pole positions0
Fastest laps0
First entry1971 Dutch Grand Prix
Last entry1972 United States Grand Prix

David Walker (10 June 1941 – 24 May 2024) was an Australian racing driver who drove for Lotus in the 1971 and 1972 Formula One World Championships.

Walker died in Queensland on 24 May 2024, at the age of 82.[1][2]


Walker had some international racing experience early in his career in the Australian rounds of the Tasman series in 1964–65 on challenging tracks like Longford and Sandown at a time when most Australian National 2.5 drives were near world class and he also finished 5th in the ex Follmer Lotus 70 in the Nov 1970 Australian GP at Warwick Farm.[3] While few would have been surprised that Walker failed to match the fastest Australian F5000 driver Frank Matich, Neil Allen and Kevin Bartlett, it was a pointer to Walker's later big car problems that at Warwick Farm he was slower than Australia's leading 2-litre single seater exponents, Kevin Bartlett, Max Stewart and Leo Geoghegan. During the 1960s Walker's racing career faltered (he was the 1969 British Formula Ford Champion and finished third in the 1969 European Formula Ford Championship), however finally broke through racing a works Team Lotus Formula Three car in 1970 and 1971. Walker dominated Formula 3 in those years against strong opposition including from James Hunt who found Walker's later failure in F1 inexplicable. He won 25 out of 32 races in 1971, including the Formula Three support races at the Monaco Grand Prix and the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. By the end of the year he had won both the Shell and Forward Trust UK Formula Three titles. In his initial non championship races in a Lotus 72 in early 1971 at the Race of Champion at Brands Hatch and at Hockenheim, Walker qualified only on the 3rd row and was no faster than John Miles in a BRM P160 who Walker had effectively replaced in the Lotus team. Lotus founder Colin Chapman, was contractually bound by his John Player, British Imperial sponsors who rated Walker highly,[4] to put Walker in F1 and when he won the 1971 F3 championship give Walker a full season Lotus F1 team drive. Imperial Tobacco extraordinarily wanted, Dave Walker to lead the Lotus F1 team in 1972 as they thought Fittipaldi form was patchy and he had not done enough. Walker was handed his Formula One debut at the 1971 Dutch Grand Prix to drive the Lotus 56B, powered by a Pratt & Whitney turbine engine. During the rain-affected race, Walker used the turbine car's advantages of four wheel drive and superior torque to rise from his starting position of 22nd to 10th place within five laps, but eventually spun off into retirement. The Lotus team management, Chapman and Manager Peter Warr were less than impressed as they thought the turbine Lotus 56 had an overwhelming advantage in the conditions and Firestone tyres well suited to the rain and had Walker taken a more cautious approach he was almost guaranteed victory.

Walker was given a full-time Formula One seat to drive the Lotus 72 in the 1972 season, as number two driver to Emerson Fittipaldi. As the season went on, however, both Walker and the team became increasingly disenchanted. After Lotus discovered Walker had tested a Formula Two car for another team, he was dropped from the team for the Italian GP and the Canadian GP, where he was replaced by Reine Wisell. However Colin Chapman said that Lotus had never really considered Walker a F1 driver, but he was actually a lot quicker than they anticipated and Walker was back for the trip to America, as No 3 for the US GP, but retired.

In all, Emerson Fittipaldi won five races and scored 61 points, winning the championship. Walker managed a fifth in the non championship round in Brazil and in the 1972 South African Grand Prix, Walker starting second last passed ten cars and was closing on 6th placed Graham Hill it a BT33 when Walker ran out of fuel, which happened often in 1972, Lotus team Manager Peter Warr said Walker drove the Lotus 72 like a F3 car, never adapting to the smoother approach required to finish F1 races while Walker never finished a Grand Prix higher than ninth place (in Spain), his best race where he had been contesting 5th place with Peter Revson, when he ran out of fuel, in the last laps. He was promising in the opening laps at Monaco where he had F3 experience, but made mistakes in the extraordinary downpour. By mid season Team Lotus was totally focused on Fittipaldi taking the Championship, and Walker's 72 was of little importance, but predictably his form at Brands and in Austria suggested some improvement, while the engine lasted. Going into the pits early in British GP, Walker took the Lotus 72 back into the race and as the leaders Ickx, Fittipaldi and Stewart came up to lap him on lap 23 Walker suddenly found form,[5] Fittipald taking a couple of laps to get by, and when he did, Walker clung on, his 72, as tail out as Peterson would drive the car the following year, and extraordinarily under pressure and possibly hitting oil from Ickx Ferrari, Fittipaldi, slipped and Walker passed, and the extraordinary cameo continued, until an increasingly annoyed and fist waving Fittipaldi, was allowed thru by Walker, whose race effectively ended the following lap when he came up to lap backmarker Niki Lauda, the Austrian in an uncompetitive March 722, the Austrian, restoring order by not giving way to the equally lowly rated Australian. Lotus blamed Walker's allegedly inadequate driving technique, poor fitness and lack of mechanical sensitivity; while Walker claimed Lotus gave him inferior equipment and gave far more attention to Fittipaldi's needs than his. He was not retained for the 1973 season, and was replaced by Ronnie Peterson. David Walker remains the only driver not to score a single Formula One Championship point in the same season his teammate won the drivers' title.

Walker driving at the 1972 French Grand Prix.

For 1973, Walker drifted into Formula Two but was unfortunate to be badly injured in two road accidents that year. He retired from motor racing at the end of 1975, saying the effect of crash injuries made him not the same driver, and he was trying too hard, after a few impressive outings in the UK Shellsport F5000 series, taking a front row grid position at Oulton park and lived in Queensland running a boat charter business.

Racing results[edit]

Career summary[edit]

Season Series Position Car Team
1963 Australian Formula Junior Championship 4th Brabham BT2 - Ford Scuderia Veloce
1964 Australian Formula 2 Championship 2nd Brabham BT2 - Ford
1969 BRSCC Formula Ford 1600 1st Lotus 61 - Ford Holbay
European Formula Ford Championship 3rd Lotus 61 - Ford Holbay
1970 BRSCC Lombank Formula 3 Britain 1st Lotus 59A - Ford Gold Leaf Team Lotus
BRSCC Motor Sport / Shell Formula 3 Britain 2nd Lotus 59 - Ford
1971 Shell Super Oil British F3 Championship 1st Lotus 69 - Ford Gold Leaf Team Lotus
Forward Trust BARC F3

Complete Formula One World Championship results[edit]


Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 WDC Points
1971 Gold Leaf Team Lotus Lotus 56B Pratt & Whitney STN76 TBN RSA ESP MON NED
1972 John Player Team Lotus Lotus 72D Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 ARG
NC 0
1975 Citizen Maki F1 Maki F101C Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 ARG BRA RSA ESP MON BEL

Non-Championship Formula One results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
1971 Gold Leaf Team Lotus Lotus 56B* Pratt & Whitney Turbine ARG ROC QST SPT INT JRG
Lotus 72* Ford Cosworth V8 JRG
1972 John Player Team Lotus Lotus 72 Ford Cosworth V8 ROC
1975 RAM Racing Chevron B28 Chevrolet V8 ROC

* Walker was entered in the 1971 Jochen Rindt Gedächtnisrennen in a Lotus 56B, but the car suffered an engine fire during practice, so Walker took over Tony Trimmer's Lotus 72 for the race.


  1. ^ "Driver: Dave Walker". www.driverdb.com. Retrieved 31 May 2024.
  2. ^ "Dave Walker". Old Racing Cars. Retrieved 30 May 2024.
  3. ^ K> Nevinson. Drivers. Harper Collins (Auckland) 2007 p 136
  4. ^ P. Warr, Lotus
  5. ^ B. Gill (Commentator) BBC, Full race Telecast of 1972 British GP
  6. ^ Small, Steve (1994). The Guinness Complete Grand Prix Who's Who. Guinness. p. 391. ISBN 0851127029.


External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Emerson Fittipaldi
(Combined championship)
British Formula 3 Championship
BRSCC Lombank Series Champion

Succeeded by
Preceded by Monaco Formula Three
Race winner

Succeeded by
Preceded by British Formula 3 Championship
BARC Series Champion

Succeeded by
Preceded by British Formula 3 Championship
BRSCC Motorsport/Shell Series Champion

Succeeded by