- October 07, 1912
- March 01, 1984
- United Kingdom
- Not Active
- Jaguar,Aston Martin,BRM,ERA
Peter Walker (1912 – 1984) was a British racing driver whose most notable result was a victory at 1951 Le Mans 24 Hours in a Jaguar C-Type, together with Peter Whitehead. Walker was on Le Mans podium one more time, finishing second in 1953, together with Stirling Moss.
In the Formula One World Championship, Walker recorded four starts in Grand Prix races between 1950 and 1955, driving four different cars (ERA, BRM, Maserati and Connaught).
Yorkshiremen Walker and Whitehead started to race together
Peter Douglas Conyers Walker, nicknamed Skid or Skidder, was born in October 1912 in Huby, Yorkshire. He started a racing career together with fellow Yorkshireman Peter Whitehead in 1935 and their link lasted for more than two decades, until Walker's retirement in 1956 and Whitehead's death in 1958.
In his early racing years, Walker was driving ERA cars in circuit racing and hillclimbs, scoring some notable wins, such was at Brooklands or Donington Park. The World War II stopped racing activities but Walker returned to race car soon after the war ended.
Participant of the first British Grand Prix in 1948
In October 1948, he was one of the participants of the inaugural British Grand Prix at Silverstone Airfield. He was supposed to race in a new ERA E-Type but the manufacturer didn't deliver a car on time, so Walker was driving his own ERA B-Type.
After lots of problems, he managed to end a race in 11th place, twelve laps behind the winner Luigi Villoresi in a Maserati.
Lofty England invited Walker to Jaguar in 1949
Next year, Walker was the third fastest qualifier for the British Grand Prix but retired in the race after 50 laps. However, his good performances in hillclimb and circuit races brought him an attention of Lofty England, the manager of Jaguar's sports car racing team.
Lofty invited Walker to race in a Jaguar XK120 at car's inaugural race at Silverstone in August 1949. Walker finished second, behind Leslie Johnson in the same car.
Walker raced in the first ever F1 Championship race
In 1950, the Formula One World Championship was formed and Walker participated in the first ever Grand Prix race of the new championship. It was the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on May 13, 1950.
He contested in the #9 ERA E-Type, qualifying a car in the 10th place and racing for two laps before handing a car to Tony Rolt. He was in a race for three more laps before he retired with a broken gearbox.
Victory at 1950 Silverstone International
In summer 1950, Walker was listed for Le Mans race but he skipped the event. In August, he was driving the #28 Jaguar XK120 at Silverstone International sports car race, winning the race ahead of Nick Haines in another Jaguar.
For 1951, Jaguar prepared an improved version of XK120, more suitable for endurance racing. It was the Jaguar C-Type.
1951 Le Mans victory for Walker and Whitehead
Three Jaguar C-Types entered the 1951 Le Mans 24 Hours, with a strong line-up of drivers: Peter Walker/Peter Whitehead (#20), Stirling Moss/Jack Fairman (#22), Clemente Biondetti/Leslie Johnson (#23). Only Walker and Whitehead reached a finish.
After 24 hours of racing and 267 laps around the Circuit de la Sarthe, they won the race with a 9-lap advantage over Talbot-Lago of Pierre Meyrat and Guy Mairesse. It was Jaguar's first Le Mans victory in brand's history.
Seventh place and burns at 1951 British Grand Pix
Three weeks later, Walker entered the 1951 British Grand Prix at Silverstone. In that race, Jose Froilan Gonzalez scored the first ever win for Scuderia Ferrari. Walker was driving the #7 BRM P15, powered by the monstrous V16 engine.
He skipped practice and qualifying, starting from the back of the grid. Suffering from burns on hands and legs by heat from the engine and exhaust system, Walker finished the race in seventh place, two spots behind BRM teammate Reg Parnell. The British press was celebrating Walker and Parnell as heroes because they finished the race despite being badly burned.
1953 Le Mans podium for Walker and Stirling Moss
Three months later, still nursing his burns, Walker participated at Tourist Trophy sports car race at Dundrod, driving the #8 Jaguar C-Type. He finished in second place, behind Stirling Moss in the #7 Jaguar. Stirling Moss was Walker's co-driver at 1952 Le Mans race in the #17 C-Type. They retired early, after two hours.
Next year, Moss and Walker were sharing a car again. This time, they brought the #17 Jaguar to the finish line as the second-placed crew, four laps behind teammates Tony Rolt and Duncan Hamilton in the #18 Jaguar. Moss and Walker participated together at Le Mans one more time, in 1954, not finishing the race in the #12 Jaguar D-Type.
Racing with Jaguars since 1954
During his years with Jaguar, Walker recorded few more notable results. In September 1953, he and Stirling Moss finished third at Tourist Trophy race which was a part of the World Sportscar Championship.
In May 1954, Walker was on a podium at Silverstone International, finishing third in a Jaguar C-Type. It was his last year with Jaguar, as he moved to Aston Martin in 1955.
Moving to Aston Martin in 1955
Peter Walker moved to Aston Martin in 1955, having the first race in May at Silverstone International, where he finished 8th in an Aston Martin DB3S.
In June 1955, Walker joined Roy Salvadori in the #24 Aston Martin DB3S at Le Mans. In his fifth attempt at the world's greatest race, Walker recorded third DNF result. It was a race marked by the greatest tragedy in a history of motorsport.
Two more Formula One Grand Prix starts in 1955
A week after Le Mans, Walker returned to Formula One World Championship, driving a Maserati 250F, owned by Stirling Moss, in the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort. Walker retired after just two laps.
A few weeks later, Walker was driving the #36 Connaught-Alta for Rob Walker Racing Team in the 1955 British Grand Prix. He was sharing a car with Tony Rolt, who raced for ten laps and then Walker was in a car for nine laps, retiring due to a broken transmission.
Goodwood 9 Hours victory with Aston Martin
After a disappointing ending of Le Mans race with Aston Martin, Walker managed to win the Goodwood 9 Hours in August 1955, sharing an Aston Martin DB3S with Dennis Poore. A month later, they were fourth in the Tourist Trophy WSC race.
In June 1956, Walker had an accident at Le Mans race in the #9 Aston Martin DB3S, which he was sharing with Roy Salvadori. Walker crashed heavily on the morning of the second day, due to a sudden downpour. The injuries from that accident forced Walker to end his career.