Ron Walker, the promoter who secured the Australian Grand Prix for Melbourne in 1996, died Tuesday at the age of 78.

Ron Walker death news

Walker was the chairman of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation until his retirement in 2015. He was instrumental in relocating the race from its former home in Adelaide to its current location in Melbourne.

Before his involvement in Formula One, Walker worked on several business ventures in Melbourne and served as the Lord Mayor of the city from 1974-76. While serving on the city council, he hosted sporting events and brought music acts to Melbourne’s Moomba Festival.

Walker was also the former chairman of Fairfax Media and an important member of the Liberal Party.


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Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was one of several prominent politicians who paid tribute to Walker on Twitter.

“Vale Ron Walker —  a great Australian, magnificent Melburnian & ferociously committed Liberal,” Turnbull wrote. “Ron was a wise and true friend to me as he was to so many Liberal leaders. We will not see his like again. Our hearts go out to Barbara and their family at this sad time.”

Andrew Papadapoulos, the president of the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport, also paid homage to walker in a statement on the CAMS website.

“Ron was a true visionary and a person everyone had the greatest respect for,” Papadopoulos said. “Working with Ron throughout his time as Chairman of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation was always an honour. For those of us who had the pleasure to meet him, we won’t forget the lasting impression he left on us.

“He leaves behind a strong legacy and we’ll always be thankful for his contribution to motor sport in particular. Ron will always be remembered.”

Walker also served as the Liberal Party’s National Treasurer from 1998 to 2003.

“I always thought it was a great mistake to not have the negotiating skills and the get up and go to secure it in the first place,” he said of his attempts to secure the Grand Prix.

“Recognizing our Grand Prix as so important to this state, nothing would have stopped me in the end from securing it for this state.”

After being named chairman of the Melbourne Major Events Company, Walker traveled to more than 80 countries in search of events, adding the Bledisloe Cup, the 2006 Commonwealth Games and golf’s President’s Cup to his list of coups.

Australian former racing driver Mark Webber also paid his respects:

In 2012, Walker had a melanoma removed from his face and was shortly afterwards told his brain and body were riddled with a severe form of cancer. He traveled to the US to take part in the trial of a new melanoma drug, Keytruda.

By the end of 2014, he was cancer-free, to the surprise of his doctors.

After this, Walker pulled back from his public life, and gave up his position with the Grand Prix. He remained closely linked with cancer research, and claims his involvement in the trial of Keytruda — now a widely used drug — was one of his greatest achievements.

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