Derrick Walker, president of competition and operations for the IndyCar Series, has decided to step down effective Aug. 31 “to pursue other professional opportunities,” the series announced early Thursday afternoon. The current season ends on Aug. 30.
"We have benefited from Derrick’s extensive racing experience, his tireless effort and his passion for IndyCar, and he will be missed," said Mark Miles, CEO of IndyCar parent firm Hulman & Co., in a prepared release. "We appreciate the thoughtful way Derrick has planned his transition and wish him well in his future endeavors."
Among his accomplishments, Walker was credited with securing Boston as the site for a new race in the 2016 season, introducing the Angie’s List Grand Prix in 2014, spearheading improvements in technology for race control, and leading innovation of the controversial aero kits in use by the series this year.
"I have appreciated the opportunity to work closely with the team owners, drivers and the team at INDYCAR. After two and a half racing seasons, I believe the timing is right to move on to other opportunities."
The aero kits have been a consistent source of controversy this season, with team owners blasting their cost. The aerodynamic bodywork was intended bring higher speeds and attract more fans, but there is little evidence those hopes have panned out so far.
After a rash of crashes during practice for the Indianapolis 500 in May, some suspected that the aero kits were to blame. Series officials responded by reducing horsepower for cars during qualifying, squashing hopes for a new track record for this year's Month of May festivities.
The thud from the aero kit failure at Indianapolis was heard globally, motorsports analyst Derek Daly told IBJ at the time.
“These aero kits and the increased speeds have been the story line all year for this series,” Daly said. “They had people in the motorsports industry and the motorsports specialty media from around the world paying attention. Last weekend caused the IndyCar Series a significant loss in the credibility [series officials] so desperately crave.”
This story will be updated.