Murray Walker 1923-2021

Along with the whole Motorsport community, Xtrac would like to pay our respects to Murray Walker, the doyen of Motorsport commentary who passed away on 13th March aged 97.  Everybody at Xtrac has an enthusiasm for Motorsport that undoubtably began by watching and listening to Murray commentating on Formula One, motorcycle racing and rallycross.

In-fact it was that latter that indelibly connects Murray with Xtrac.

In 1983 Mike Endean the founder of Xtrac had designed a new 4WD transmission that was first used by Norwegian Driver Martin Schanche in the British Rallycross series in a turbocharged 4WD Escort, and in the 1983 Rally Cross Grand Prix at Brands Hatch, the car was racing for the first time.  Murray was commentating on the event, and being a consummate professional was researching Scanche’s new car.  At breakfast in the hotel on the morning of the event, he asked Mike who had made the gearbox.  Mike at that time had not thought of the name Xtrac, so he said “it’s Mr X’s Traction Company”.  This was a bit of a mouthful for Murray’s quick-fire rapid commentary style, and so in the commentary Murray shortened it to Xtrac, and the name stuck!  The first use of the name “Xtrac” can be heard on the commentary of the event, and the transmission in the Escort became known as the G4 and was in use until the mid 1990s in national and international Rally Cross.  The original Xtrac Escort as it became known still exists, now fully restored to its former glory, and is from time-to-time run at various tarmac sprint and hill-climb events, although it’s too much a valuable piece of Xtrac’s history to be used in anger on a proper Rally Cross track any more.

Watch the 1983 Brands Hatch event HERE:

The next 38 years are history, although it’s fascinating that in 2022, almost 40 years after the Brands Hatch event Xtrac’s P1316 electric drive unit (EDU) built in conjunction with Kreisel Electric will be used as the standard transmission in the new eWRX (electric World Rally Cross) championship; Xtrac remaining at the cutting edge of motorsport transmission technology.

Watch the prototype eWRX car HERE: