Walter Wolf (born 5 October 1939) is a Canadian oil-drilling equipment supplier who in the early 1970s made a fortune from the North Sea oil business and decided to join the world of Formula One (F1) motor racing.
Life and career
Wolf was born in Graz, Austria. His mother was a Slovene from Lower Styria, while his father was an Austrian. After the Anschluss, the family moved to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Wolf spent his childhood in Maribor, Slovenia. After his father returned from a Soviet military internment camp in 1951, the family moved to Wuppertal in West Germany. In 1958, they moved to Canada.
In Canada, Wolf became a renowned businessman. At first his funds helped prop up Frank Williams' fledgling F1 team before Williams left in 1977 to form Williams Grand Prix Engineering (later the Williams F1) team. Wolf's team continued as Walter Wolf Racing and before being wound up in 1979 managed to win three F1 Grands Prix.
In 1993 Wolf helped finance the unsuccessful American fire apparatus company Firewolf Industries, housed in a former Piper Aircraft factory building near Lakeland, Florida, US. The actor and vintage car collector L. Christian Mixon worked as a sales manager for this company briefly in 1993.
Walter Wolf was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame in 1998.
In 2008, he was involved in the so-called Patria affair, a corruption scandal involving the Finnish company Patria. The Finnish broadcasting company YLE's investigative program MOT made claims that he was a mediator in the paying of bribes to Slovenian government officials, including Prime Minister Janez Janša. Both Wolf and Janša rejected all accusations as being untrue. Finnish police issued an arrest warrant against him, but so far he has not been apprehended.
The Croatian tobacco company Adris grupa markets one of its cigarette brands as "Walter Wolf".