IndyCar confirms Derrick Walker as new President of Competition, Operations

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Derrick Walker was introduced Monday as IndyCar’s new President of Operations and Competition. The confirmation follows a report by Robin Miller on last week.

Walker will be responsible for all technical and competition aspects of the racing operations at the open-wheel sanctioning body. A team of six others will report directly to him, and Walker will report directly to Mark Miles, the CEO of IndyCar parent company Hulman & Co.

The five key areas he’ll look after include: cost management, enhancing innovation within the current technical platform and race formats, continuing to emphasize and develop safety initiatives, sustaining programs and avenues to develop drivers and suppliers for the IZOD IndyCar Series, and developing plans for future technical platforms.

“I am going to the dark side and happily so,” said Walker, 68, who worked with Penske Racing as a mechanic, then team manager, before starting his own race team in IndyCar.

“It is a lot to learn. Fortunately there is 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.

“So 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.”

The team reporting to Walker includes: Brian Barnhart, who will serve as senior vice president of operations; race director Beaux Barfield; vice president of technology Will Phillips; vice president of technology, timing and scoring Jon Koskey; director of grassroots initiatives Jason Penix; and Firestone Indy Lights director Anton “Tony” George Jr.

Walker will leave his post as team manager with Ed Carpenter Racing in IndyCar and begin his new role with the series on May 27.

Additionally, Walker said this weekend in Monterey, Calif. that if he took the IndyCar role, he would continue his team manager role with Team Falken Tire if the team continues into the 2014 merged sports car championship, United Sports Car Racing.

In Monterey, the No. 17 Porsche driven by Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler finished second in the GT class despite a post-race points penalty assessed for the car failing its stall test in post-race inspection.

NHRA: New book a celebration of life, love and drag racing

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The overpowering smell from nitromethane that powers Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars in the National Hot Rod Association oftentimes brings fans to tears after getting a whiff of the stuff.

Now there’s a new inspirational book that will also bring tears to the eyes of die-hard drag racing fans.

Veteran crew chief Jim Oberhofer has released “Top Fuel For Life, Life Lessons From A Crew Chief,” a touching homage to both his late wife and persevering and overcoming adversity in the highly competitive world of NHRA drag racing.

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Oberhofer wears a number of hats as vice president of one of the sport’s most veteran and successful teams, Kalitta Motorsports, including serving as crew chief for Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta’s dragster.

Oberhofer relates a number of stories about overcoming adversity in the book, but none more touching than how he watched his beloved wife “Tammy O” lose a long and painful battle to stage 4 metastatic lung cancer.

While Oberhofer has spent his life using wrenches and tools working on 10,000-horsepower engines, his new book shows that he is also a very gifted writer.

Known in the sport as “Jim O,” Oberhofer describes the fight his wife went through in gritty and descriptive prose, but with a foundation built upon what the love of his life meant to him – and continues to mean to him more than two years since she passed away.

“When you take a long hard look at your life, I guarantee you that being a winner has little to do with crossing the finish line,” Oberhofer said. “After many mistakes and a whole lot of heartache, I learned that happiness comes from a deeper, simpler place. That’s the big win.”

“Top Fuel For Life” is available on Amazon for $19.95.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Report: Ecclestone believes F1 could be sold by year’s end

F1 Grand Prix of Germany
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Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone on Tuesday said the racing series is up for sale and has as many as three potential buyers.

Ecclestone told The Associated Press that a deal could still be struck by year’s end.

“I think so, maybe this year,” Ecclestone said. “There are three people mentioned to buy. So it’s a case of whether CVC or Mr. Mackenzie wants to sell.”

Ecclestone was referring to F1’s largest and controlling shareholder, CVC Capital Partners co-chairman Donald Mackenzie.

But even if F1 is sold, the 84-year-old Eccelstone doesn’t plan on going anywhere.

“The people that I’ve spoken to … have asked me if I would stay,” Ecclestone told AP.

Follow @JerryBonkowski