Tom Walkinshaw - an obituary
Tom Walkinshaw, who has died of cancer aged 64, was one of the most powerful personalities in motorsport for nearly 30 years and, latterly, an influential figure in English rugby.
Walkinshaw's famous TWR racing team won championships in touring cars and sportscars, as well as claiming the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1988, giving Jaguar its first win in the race for more than 30 years in the process.
But Formula 1, motorsport's pinnacle, proved a tougher challenge. Although the Scot was instrumental in the success of the Benetton team with Michael Schumacher from 1992-4, his attempts to conquer it with his own team eventually led to his downfall and exit from top-level motor racing.
When Walkinshaw joined Benetton in 1991, after nearly two decades of often controversial successes in touring cars and sportscars, his reputation preceded him.
He was known as an uncompromising and controversial character whose granite jaw reflected his determination - he pushed things to the limit, didn't mind who he upset to get his way and used his imposing physical presence to its full effect.
Walkinshaw was not a tall man but he was immensely broad and stocky, and he was not afraid to employ his physical strength to his own ends.
At a sportscar race once, he sought out a journalist to whose reporting he had taken exception, dragged him across the pit lane and hung him over the pit wall as cars passed by at nearly 200mph while he verbally harangued him.
But Walkinshaw had brains as well as brawn. He was a very competent racing driver in touring cars in the 1970s but he was a far better team boss.
Walkinshaw took him on to apply F1 expertise to sportscars and the result was a game-changing car that won the world sportscar championship.
With that conquered, only F1 remained and the flamboyant new Benetton team boss Flavio Briatore, an intimidating character himself, decided that Walkinshaw and Brawn were the men he needed to turn Benetton from also-rans to winners. Walkinshaw was installed as engineering director, Brawn as technical director.
It didn't take long for Walkinshaw's ruthlessness to emerge.
He had witnessed Schumacher's talents driving for Mercedes in sportscars and when the 22-year-old German made an electrifying F1 debut for Jordan at the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix, Walkinshaw told Briatore this was the driver they needed. By the next race in Italy Schumacher was in the cockpit of a Benetton, the fact that he had binding contract with Jordan a minor inconvenience.
Together, Benetton and Schumacher made a formidable team and success was not long coming - by 1994 they were world champions. But, just as in the other categories in which Walkinshaw had competed, the whiff of controversy followed him to F1.
Benetton were accused of cheating. They were found to have illegal driver-aid software in their cars, but were not punished because the sport's governing body, the FIA, could not prove it had been used. Then, after a refuelling fire during the German Grand Prix, Benetton were found guilty of taking a filter out of their fuel hose without authorisation.
Benetton's 1994 pit fire led to the end of Walkinshaw's career with the team
They blamed it on a "junior member of staff", but the rumour was that Walkinshaw had authorised it.
Benetton agreed with the FIA to part company with certain unidentified staff as an act of good faith. It was an open secret that a deal had been brokered behind closed doors that Walkinshaw would leave the company at the end of the year.
He moved first to run Benetton-linked Ligier, before in early 1996 taking over Arrows.
Such was the regard in which Walkinshaw was held that he was expected to make a success of a team that had never won a race in its 20-year history.
He pulled off a coup by convincing world champion Damon Hill to join the team for 1997 but the car was uncompetitive. Hill took a somewhat freak second place in Hungary but left the team at the end of the year.
From then on, it was largely all downhill, despite a few flashes of hope, namely when investment bank Morgan Grenfell bought into the team in 1998 and Walkinshaw signed a high-profile sponsorship deal with mobile phone network Orange in 2000.
Generally, his Arrows years were a struggle against the odds, and they ended in 2002 with the ignominy of a High Court battle with Morgan Grenfell and a damning judgement, in which Mr Justice Lightman described proposals Walkinshaw had made trying to ensure the survival of the team as "underhand and improper, indeed downright dishonest".
Why did it go wrong for him in F1?
Some said Walkinshaw too often had his eye off the ball, concentrating on his other business interests, such as his TWR engineering group and Gloucester Rugby Club, to the detriment of his F1 team.
Walkinshaw found money and new partners hard to come by, despite his long history in the car and motorsport industries - or perhaps because of it, some believed.
Walkinshaw was a hard-nosed businessman and sportsman, always viewed as the ultimate survivor, the man who could be guaranteed to pull off the last-minute saving deal.
But his failure with Arrows spelt the end of his association with top-level motorsport, although he did continue to run a touring car team in Australia.
He turned his business acumen and tough negotiating skills to a new role in rugby.
Related or not, the collapse of Arrows coincided with Walkinshaw's tenure as chairman of Premier Rugby, the top-flight clubs' umbrella body, from 1998-2002.
Later, he led the clubs' team negotiating with the Rugby Football Union over the release of England players, the details of which are now enshrined in an eight-year agreement that has largely ended what for a while were very bitter wrangles over the management of the men playing for the national side.
As chairman of Gloucester, he is remembered fondly for pumping in lots of money and keeping the team at the forefront of the game, even if he never quite achieved his ambitions either domestically or in Europe.
Walkinshaw was a complex figure who aroused mixed emotions but, although he had a dark side, plenty of people will remember him as a warm-hearted and generous man.
BBC F1 analyst Martin Brundle, whose long relationship with Walkinshaw included winning Le Mans and the world sportscar title, says: "He was a mentor to me.
"I wrote to him and asked him for a drive when he didn't know me from Adam and he gave me a chance. If he hadn't done that, I'd still be selling Toyotas in West Norfolk, for sure. He was an entrepreneurial racer and a great tactician."
And Hill, now president of the British Racing Drivers' Club that owns Silverstone, adds: "He was a very big-hearted guy who put everything he had into motor racing in all its forms. He loved motorsport and he liked business, too.
"Tom had competitive spirit and there were a lot of good things about him. He genuinely wanted to compete. He wanted things to turn out right.
"I certainly believed in Tom and his sincere desire to build a team. But it didn't work out.
"He was a major player in motorsport for a long time and that will be his testimony."