Former team owner Derrick Walker is to being his wealth of experience to a senior position within the IZOD IndyCar Series, it was announced today in Indianapolis.

Walker has been appointed president of IndyCar operations and competition and will take up the post on Monday, May 27 immediately after the Indianapolis 500.

"We're pleased to welcome Derrick Walker to this vital role," said Mark Miles, chief executive officer of IndyCar's parent company Hulman & Co.

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Walker's job will give him the lead on liaising with team owners and suppliers on the subject of cost management as well as enhancing technical innovation sand safety programmes. Walker will also take the lead on developing relationships with potential new suppliers and on helping develop exciting new race formats to boost the vitality of the US open wheel championship.

Walker will report to Miles, while reporting directly to Walker in turn will be Brian Barnhart, who will serve as senior vice president of operations. Also reporting to Walker will be race director Beaux Barfield, vice president of technology Will Phillips and vice president of technology, timing and scoring Jon Koskey.

Firestone Indy Lights director Anton "Tony" George Jr. and IndyCar director of grassroots initiatives Jason Penix will also report to Walker once he takes up the position.

"We spoke with many of our constituents about an ideal person for this job, and Derrick's name emerged early and often," explained Miles. "Derrick stood out because his decades of experience in North American open-wheel racing blend ownership and management for his own race teams and other teams.

"He understands how to balance the technical and financial operations of our sport, and his confident leadership will provide a firm, clear direction for long-term IndyCar operations and competition," Miles added.

Walker's 40 years of experience saw him start as a mechanic and includes spells working with Ferrari in sports car racing, Brabham and Penske Racing in F1, and with Porsche and Penske Racing in IndyCar.

As the owner of Walker Motorsports, Ltd. he fielded multi-car teams in 414 races in IndyCar, Firestone Indy Lights and Formula BMW and worked with drivers including Gil de Ferran, Scott Goodyear, Christian Fittipaldi, Sarah Fisher, Alex Tagliani, Will Power, Simon Pagenaud and Paul Tracy. The Walker Motorsports team made Indianapolis 500 history in 1991 by fielding an entry for Willy T Ribbs, who became the first African-American to qualify for the race.

The 68-year-old who originally hails from Scotland has most recently been acting as general manager for Ed Carpenter Racing in the IZOD IndyCar Series, helping to lead the team to a victory last September at Auto Club Speedway in the team's rookie season.

"While we will miss Derrick being part of Ed Carpenter Racing, we are excited about his new opportunity to join the leadership team at IndyCar," said Carpenter after the announcement. "He really was the architect of our team and helped us establish a very strong foundation that will continue to lead future successes.

"Although we wish him well, we will enjoy our last month working together - and if all goes according to plan, we will drink milk together at the end of the month before he moves on to his new responsibilities!"

"I am going to the dark side, and happily so," quipped Walker. "I've been around long enough to see the good, bad and the ugly," he added.

"I have had the opportunity to participate in the business of professional racing my entire life, and I have gained valuable experience from many different angles," said Walker.

"Leading the operations and competition aspects of IndyCar is a perfect place to leverage my experiences and relationships to help ensure that IndyCar racing is exciting and engaging for our fans, that our drivers and owners are able to showcase their talents through our events, and that our technical partners are able to use our racing platform for innovation and development."