Ron Walker, the promoter who secured the Australian Grand Prix for Melbourne in 1996, has died at the age of 78.
Walker was the head of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation until his retirement in 2015 and was instrumental in moving the race from its former home in Adelaide to its current location in Melbourne. His close relationship with Bernie Ecclestone made him a powerful figure among grand prix promoters and he was chairman of the Formula One Promoters' Association until he retired.
Prior to his involvement in Formula One, Walker worked on a number of business ventures in Melbourne and served as the Lord Mayor of the city between 1974 and 1976.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was among the prominent politicians paying their respects 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."
The president of the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport, Andrew Papadopoulos, also paid tribute to Walker via 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."