The Verizon IndyCar Series announced today that the league’s President of Competition and Operations, Derrick Walker, is resigning “in order to pursue other professional opportunities.” The resignation won’t take effect until August 31 – the day after the 2015 season ends at Sonoma Raceway – and no replacement is lined up.
Walker’s statement provided by the league was brief and gave no reference to what his other opportunities might be. “I have appreciated the opportunity to work closely with the team owners, drivers and the team at IndyCar,” he said in the release. “After two and a half racing seasons, I believe the timing is right to move on to other opportunities.”
Added league boss Mark Miles, “We have benefited from Derrick’s extensive racing experience, his tireless effort and his passion for IndyCar, and he will be missed. We appreciate the thoughtful way Derrick has planned his transition and wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Walker’s tenure as the man overseeing IndyCar competition hasn’t come without some speed bumps. He’s credited with leading the innovation of the new aero kits, which have been great at times and troublesome at others.
Decisions handed down by Race Control have been met with moments of confusion and criticism, most notably saying that the governing body didn’t see a fuel nozzle attached to the car of Graham Rahal at the Fontana event that should have earned a drive-through penalty – when it was seen by fans, broadcast teams and track officials, who threw a caution flag because of it.
Then there was the controversial new driver conduct policy introduced earlier this month after participants publicly criticized the racing at Fontana, which many have likened to a gag order.
At the same time, the league credits him with helping to secure next year’s new Boston street course race, introducing the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis that now precedes the Indianapolis 500, contributions to safety advancement and spearheading the move to invest additional money for improvements in Race Control.
No matter what your opinion on Walker, IndyCar is losing a key executive now and will have to search for someone else to take its competition reins before the 2016 season. Fans on Facebook are now suggesting former drivers, including Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dario Franchitti and current NBCSN commentator Paul Tracy, for the role.
For more on the Verizon IndyCar Series, visit the league’s website.