Ron Walker has announced that he will step down as chairman of the Australian Grand Prix next year. It is anticipated that he will be replaced by John Harnden, a former CEO of the event, who has been organising the 2015 Cricket World Cup. That event will be happening at the same time as the Australian GP next year but after it is completed Harnden can switch roles. Walker took the Australian GP to Melbourne in 1996 and has run the event ever since. Now 74 he has had some serious health problems in the few years and wants to retire.
“It’s good governance to let someone fresh take the reins,” he said.
The board has yet to confirm Harnden, but he has already joined the board of directors.
A graduate of civil engineering from the University of Adelaide, Harnden joined the Kinhill Engineers company in 1986. He worked on a wide variety of engineering projects before becoming involved with the management of engineering works for the Australian GP in Adelaide. In 1990 he was appointed track manager for the Grand Prix. His responsibilities included constructing the street circuit every year and making sure that everything met the necessary standards imposed by the FIA.
This experience led to him working on the design of the Zhuhai International circuit in China and as a consultant engineer on other F1 projects before being hired by the Grand Prix office in Melbourne. After playing a key role in setting up the Albert Park event he was appointed deputy chief executive to Judith Griggs and replaced her when she resigned from the job in 1998, becoming chief executive of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation at the age of only 32. At the end of 2002 he stood down from his job and moved on to head the organisation for the Commonwealth Games in 2006. He then spent three years in the theme park business before joining the South Australia Cricket Association as CEO in 2010 and then took over the World Cup in 2012.