The Formula One paddock gave Murray Walker a send-off to remember in Indianapolis, as the legendary British commentator prepared for his final race behind the mike.
A large proportion of the grand prix clan gathered at the BMW Williams
F1 Paddock Club suite to pay homage to the 75-year old, with all his media colleagues being joined by team personnel and managers and, to Walker's great delight, a great number of drivers, who all wanted to partake in the celebration of his long career.
Walker's propensity for making gaffes during his excitable commentary naturally formed a centrepiece to the evening, and world champion Michael Schumacher was just one of the stars who took part in a re-enactment of one of Murray's famous mistakes. Names new and old from up and down the pit-lane recalled their own 'Murray Moments', ranging from relative newcomers like Jenson Button
and Rubens Barrichello, to 'old hands' like co-commentator and former driver Martin Brundle and team boss Eddie Jordan. Eddie Irvine played his usual joker role, and refused to toe the line, but still managed to pay tribute to the man many still see as the voice of F1 world-wide.
To mark the occasions, Indianapolis Motor Speedway boss Tony George presented Walker with a brick from the original Indianapolis 'Brickyard' circuit, thought to date back to 1909.
Formula One ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone also paid tribute to one of the sport's longest serving faces, and claimed that Murray would always be welcome in the paddock - to the extent that he would be granted a lifetime pass to the F1 circus. Ecclestone also repeated the belief that Walker would not stay away from the sport which has enthralled him for more than fifty years, insisting that he would only be taking a year off, a la
Mika Hakkinen, before returning to work for either a satellite channel of his proposed digital coverage.
The event turned out to be a great evening, with everyone present finding something to laugh about, despite the sombre mood in which the US Grand Prix is taking place. Typically, given the following he has built up over the years, Murray Walker received a standing ovation at the end of the night.