Born on this day, Dave Walker, Australian former racing driver who drove for Lotus in the 1971 and 1972 Formula One Championships

Tuesday 10th June 1941

Born on this day, Dave Walker, Australian former racing driver who drove for Lotus in the 1971 and 1972 Formula One Championships.

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 Lotus in Formula Three during 1971. He won 25 out of 32 races that year, 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. Coming to the attention of Lotus founder Colin Chapman, 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.

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. Walker was back for the US GP, but retired.

In all, Fittipaldi won five races and scored 61 points, winning the championship, while Walker never finished a Grand Prix higher than ninth place (in Spain). 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.

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, and now lives in Queensland running a boat charter business.

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