James Hunt

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James Hunt
James Hunt - Dutch GP 1976 crop mod.jpg
James Hunt at the 1976 Dutch Grand Prix
Born(1947-08-29)29 August 1947
Belmont, Sutton, Surrey, England
Died15 June 1993(1993-06-15) (aged 45)
Wimbledon, London, England
Formula One World Championship career
NationalityUnited Kingdom British
Active years1973-1979
TeamsHesketh, McLaren, Wolf
Races93 (92 starts)
Championships1 (1976)
Wins10
Podiums23
Career points179
Pole positions14
Fastest laps8
First race1973 Monaco Grand Prix
First win1975 Dutch Grand Prix
Last win1977 Japanese Grand Prix
Last race1979 Monaco Grand Prix
 
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For other people named James Hunt, see James Hunt (disambiguation).
James Hunt
James Hunt - Dutch GP 1976 crop mod.jpg
James Hunt at the 1976 Dutch Grand Prix
Born(1947-08-29)29 August 1947
Belmont, Sutton, Surrey, England
Died15 June 1993(1993-06-15) (aged 45)
Wimbledon, London, England
Formula One World Championship career
NationalityUnited Kingdom British
Active years1973-1979
TeamsHesketh, McLaren, Wolf
Races93 (92 starts)
Championships1 (1976)
Wins10
Podiums23
Career points179
Pole positions14
Fastest laps8
First race1973 Monaco Grand Prix
First win1975 Dutch Grand Prix
Last win1977 Japanese Grand Prix
Last race1979 Monaco Grand Prix

James Simon Wallis Hunt (29 August 1947 – 15 June 1993)[1] was a British racing driver who won the Formula One World Championship in 1976. After retiring from racing in 1979, Hunt became a media commentator and businessman.

Beginning his racing career in touring car racing, Hunt progressed into Formula Three where he attracted the attention of the Hesketh Racing team and was soon taken under their wing. Hunt's often action-packed exploits on track earned him the nickname "Hunt the Shunt". Hunt entered Formula One in 1973, driving a March 731 entered by the Hesketh Racing team. He went on to win for Hesketh, driving their own Hesketh 308 car, in both World Championship and non-Championship races, before joining the McLaren team at the end of 1975. In his first year with McLaren, Hunt won the 1976 World Drivers' Championship, and he remained with the team for a further two years, although with less success, before moving to the Wolf team in early 1979. Following a string of races in which he failed to finish, Hunt retired from driving halfway through the 1979 season.

After retiring from motor racing, he established a career commenting on Grands Prix for the BBC. He was known for his knowledge, insights, dry sense of humour and his criticism of drivers who, he believed, were not trying hard enough, which in the process brought him a whole new fanbase.

Hunt died from a heart attack aged 45. He was inducted into the Motor Sport Hall of Fame on January 29, 2014.[2]

Early life[edit]

James Hunt was born in Belmont, Sutton, Surrey, as the second child of Sue and Wallis Hunt, a successful stockbroker. His parents were brought up in strict Victorian environments and worked hard to maintain discipline in the family. He had an elder sister, Sally, three younger brothers, Peter, Timothy and David, and one young sister, Georgina.[3] Hunt's family lived in a flat in Cheam, Surrey, moved to Sutton when he was 11 and then to a larger home in Belmont.[4] Before his 5th birthday, Hunt was enrolled at a nursery class at Ambleside. He was then educated at Westerleigh School in Hastings, East Sussex from 1955, and later at Wellington College in Crowthorne, Berkshire.

As a youngster, Hunt became a proficient sportsman. He played for the Westerleigh School cricket team, and played in goal at football for two years. At the age of 12 he entered an under-17s tennis tournament, and lost to a 16-year-old in the final. Rather than congratulate himself, he instead cried for hours. He later competed at Junior Wimbledon, and also became a keen squash player and golfer.

As a child, Hunt was fascinated with animals and birds, and professed an intention of becoming a doctor, which his family supported. However, he had a persistently rebellious personality; for example, his parents believed that he had started smoking from the age of 10, a habit he continued into adulthood, despite their attempts to persuade him to stop. He was prone to violent tantrums; as an adult, he acknowledged that he was quick tempered.

Hunt first learned to drive on a tractor on a farm in Pembrokeshire, Wales while on a family holiday, with instruction from the farm's owner, but he found changing gears frustrating because he lacked the required strength.[5] Hunt passed his driving test one week after his 17th birthday, at which point he said his life "really began".[6] Hunt also took up skiing in 1965 in Scotland and made plans for further ski trips. Before his 18th birthday, he went to the home of Chris Ridge, his tennis doubles partner. Ridge's brother Simon, who raced Minis, was preparing his car for a race at Silverstone that weekend. The Ridges took Hunt to see the race, which began his obsession with motor racing.[7]

Early career[edit]

Mini racing[edit]

Hunt's own racing career started off in a racing Mini. His first race entered was at Snetterton but he was prevented from competing by race scrutineers as the Mini was deemed to have many irregularites with the car which left Hunt upset. Hunt later brought the necessary funding from working as a trainee manager of a telephone company to enter three events.[8]

Formula Ford[edit]

He graduated to Formula Ford in 1968. He drove a Russell-Alexis Mk 14 car which was bought from a hire purchase scheme. In his first race at Snetterton, Hunt had lost 15 hp from an incorrect engine ignition setting but managed to finish 5th. Hunt took his first win at Lydden Hill and also set the lap record on the Brands Hatch short circuit.[9]

Formula Three[edit]

James Hunt driving a Brabham BT21 in the Guards Trophy F3 race at Brands Hatch, 1969.

Hunt later raced in Formula Three in 1969 from a budget conceived by Gowrings of Reading which brought a Meryln Mk11A. Gowrings had a view to run the car in the final two races of 1968.[9] Hunt won several races and constant high placed finishes which was evaluated by the British Guild of Motoring Writers which awarded Hunt a Grovewood Award as one of the three drivers to have promising careers.[10]

Hunt was involved in a controversial incident with Dave Morgan during a battle for second position in the Formula Three Daily Express Trophy race at Crystal Palace on 3 October 1970. Having banged wheels earlier in a very closely fought race, Morgan attempted to pass Hunt on the outside of South Tower Corner on the final lap, but instead the cars collided and crashed out of the race. Hunt's car came to rest in the middle of the track, minus two wheels. Hunt got out, ran over to Morgan and furiously pushed him to the ground,[11] which earned him severe official disapproval. Both men were summoned by the RAC and after hearing evidence from other drivers, Hunt was cleared by a tribunal but Morgan was given a 12-month suspension of his racing licence. Hunt later met with John Hogan and racing driver Gerry Birrell to obtain sponsorship from Coca-Cola.[12]

Hunt's career continued in the works March team for 1972. His first race at Mallory Park saw him finish 3rd but was told by race officials he was able to exclude himself from the results when it was discovered that his engine was outside the regulations but had passed scrutineering tests at the next two races in Brands Hatch. In these races, Hunt finished 4th and 5th respectively. He collided with two cars at Oulton Park but finished 3rd at Mallory Park after a long duel with Roger Williamson. The cars did not appear at Zandvoort with Hunt still attending the race, but as a spectator.[13]

In May 1972 it was announced by the team that he had been dropped from the STP-March Formula 3 team and replaced by Jochen Mass. When Hunt attempted to contact March, he was unable to get any response from his employers. Hunt decided to consult Chris Marshall, his former team manager who explained that a spare car was available.[13] This followed a period characterized by a series of mechanical failures, and which culminated in a decision by Hunt, against the express instructions of March director Max Mosley, to race at Monaco in a March from a different team, unexpectedly vacated by driver Jean-Claude Alzerat, after Hunt's own March had first broken down and then been hit by another competitor in a practice lap.[14]

After the termination of his racing relationship with STP-March, Hunt joined the Hesketh team, where he was seen as a kindred spirit. The team initially entered Hunt in Formula Two with little success but Lord Hesketh announced that they might as well fail in F1 as in F2, as it wasn't significantly more expensive.

Formula One career[edit]

1973-1975: Hesketh[edit]

Hunt's Hesketh 308 from 1975 being driven by his son, Freddie, in 2007
1973

Hesketh purchased a March 731 chassis, and it was developed by Harvey Postlethwaite. The team was initially not taken seriously by rivals, who saw the Hesketh team as party goers enjoying the glamour of Formula One (indeed, Hunt's driving suit featured a specially made patch which read "Sex - The Breakfast of Champions"). However, the Hesketh March proved much more competitive than the works March cars, and their best result was second place at the 1973 United States Grand Prix. Hunt also made a brief venture into sports car racing at the 1973 Kyalami Nine Hours, driving a Mirage M6 along with Derek Bell, finishing second.[15]

After the season's end, Hunt was awarded with the Campbell Trophy from the RAC marking his performance in Formula One as the best for a British driver.[16]

1974

For the 1974 season Hesketh Racing built a car, inspired by the March, called the Hesketh 308, but an accompanying V12 engine never materialised. Hunt's first test of the car came at Silverstone and found it more stable than its predecessor, the March 731. Hunt was retained on a £15,000 salary.[17] The Hesketh team captured the public imagination as a car without sponsors' markings, a teddy-bear badge and a devil-may-care team ethos, which belied the fact that their engineers were highly competent professionals. In Argentina, Hunt qualified 5th and led briefly before being overtaken by Ronnie Peterson before Hunt spun off the track and eventually retired due to engine failure.[18] In South Africa, Hunt retired from 5th place from a broken driveshaft.[19] Hunt's season highlight was a victory at the BRDC International Trophy non-Championship race at Silverstone, against the majority of the regular F1 field.

1975
Hunt in the Hesketh in 1975

Hunt scored a 6th in Brazil and retired with an engine failure in South Africa. In Spain, Hunt led the first six laps before colliding with a barrier with the same cause of retirement in Monaco. He had a further two retirements in Belgium and Sweden which were both down to mechanical failures.[20] Hunt's first win came in the 1975 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort. He finished fourth in the Championship that year, but Lord Hesketh had run out of funds and could not find a sponsor for his team. With little time left before the 1976 season, Hunt was desperately looking for a drive until Emerson Fittipaldi left McLaren and joined his brother's Copersucar-Fittipaldi outfit. With no other top drivers available, the team management signed Hunt to McLaren - in a deal brokered by Marlboro's John Hogan - for the next season on a $200,000 contract.[21] Hunt immediately caused a stir by refusing to sign a clause in his contract which stipulated he wore suits to sponsor functions. Hunt wore t-shirt and jeans and was often barefoot for sponsor-led functions with world leaders, chairmen of businesses and media moguls.

1976-1978: McLaren[edit]

Hunt leading John Watson in the 1976 Dutch Grand Prix
1976

1976 was Hunt's best year; the season proved to be one of the most dramatic and controversial on record. While Hunt's performances in the Hesketh had drawn considerable praise, there was some conjecture as to whether he could really sustain a championship challenge. Now a works McLaren driver, he dispelled many doubters at the first race in Brazil, where, in a hastily rebuilt McLaren M23, he landed pole position in the last minutes of qualifying. Over the course of the year he would drive the McLaren M23 to six Grands Prix wins, but with superior reliability, reigning world champion and main rival Niki Lauda pulled out a substantial points lead in the first few races of the season. Hunt's first race win of 1976, at the fourth race of the season, the Spanish Grand Prix, resulted in disqualification for driving a car adjudged to be 1.8 cm too wide. The win was later reinstated upon appeal, but it set the tone for an extraordinarily volatile season. At the British Grand Prix, Hunt was involved in a first corner incident on the first lap with Lauda which led to the race being stopped and restarted. Hunt initially attempted to take a spare car, however this was disallowed, and during this time the original race car was repaired, eventually winning the restarted race.[22] Hunt's victory was disallowed on 24 September by a ruling from the FIA after Ferrari complained that Hunt was not legally allowed to restart the race.[23]

Lauda sustained near-fatal injuries in an accident at the following round, the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring. Hunt dominated the restarted Nürburgring race, building an immediate lead and remaining unchallenged to the chequered flag.

Lauda's injuries kept him out of the following two races, allowing Hunt to close the gap in the championship chase. At Zandvoort, Hunt overtook Ronnie Peterson on the 12th lap and resisted pressure from John Watson to win.[24] At the Italian Grand Prix, the big story was Lauda's miraculous return from his Nürburgring accident. At a circuit that should have suited Hunt's car, the Texaco fuel McLaren were using was tested and although apparently legal, their cars and also those of the Penske team, were judged to contain a higher octane level than allowed. Subsequently both teams were forced to start from the rear of the grid. While trying to make his way up the field, Hunt spun off, while a returning Lauda finished fourth. However, at the penultimate round in the United States, Hunt started from pole and took victory after a close battle with Jody Scheckter.[25]

This set the stage for the final round in Japan. Hunt's late season charge pulled him to just three points behind Lauda. The sliding scale of points for the top six finishers meant that Hunt needed to finish third (4-points) or better to overtake Lauda coupled with Lauda earning too few points to stay ahead. McLaren team manager Alastair Caldwell had taken advantage of the gap between the final two races to hire the Fuji circuit - a track hosting its first Grand Prix and therefore unknown to all the teams - for an exclusive McLaren test. After a few laps the gearbox seized, bringing the test to a premature close, but the team had had the advantage of acclimatising themselves to the new circuit. Conditions for the race itself were torrentially wet. Lauda retired early on in the race, unable to blink because of facial burns from his accident in Germany.[26] After leading most of the race Hunt suffered a puncture, then had a delayed pitstop and finally received mixed pit signals from his team. But he managed to finish in third place, scoring four points, enough for him to win the World Championship by one point.[27] Hunt was the last British Formula One champion until Nigel Mansell won the 1992 championship for Williams.[28] He was one of the relatively cheapest F1 World Champions ever, having signed at the last minute for $200,000 – a scenario similar to that of 1982 Champion Keke Rosberg.

1977

Before the start of 1977, Hunt attended a gala function at the Europa Hotel in London where he was awarded the Tarmac Trophy along with a two cheques which were for £2000 and £500 respectively, a magnum of champagne and other awards. The presentation was made by HRH the Duke of Kent. Hunt made an acceptance speech after the event which was considered "suitably gracious and glamorous". The media became critical of Hunt as he attended the event dressed in jeans, t-shirt and a decrepit windbreaker.[29]

Before the South African Grand Prix, Hunt was confronted by customs officials who searched his luggage, finding no illegal substances except a publication that contravened the strict obscenity laws of South Africa. Hunt was later released, and tested at Kyalami where his McLaren M26 suffered a loose brake caliper which cut a hole in one of the tyres. He recovered and put the car on pole position and the race saw Hunt suffer a collision with Jody Schekter's Wolf and another collision with Patrick Depailler's Tyrrell but still managed to finish 4th.[30]

The season did not start well for Hunt. The McLaren M26 was problematic in the early part of the season, during which Niki Lauda, Mario Andretti and Jody Scheckter took a considerable lead in the Drivers' Championship. Towards the end of the year Hunt and the McLaren M26 were quicker than any rival combination other than Mario Andretti and the Lotus 78. Hunt won in Silverstone after trailing the Brabham of John Watson for 25 laps.[31] He then took a further victory at Watkins Glen. At the Canadian Grand Prix, Hunt retired after a collision with team-mate Jochen Mass and was fined $2000 for assaulting a marshal and $750 for walking back to the pit lane in an "unsafe manner".[32] In Fuji, Hunt won the race but did not attend the podium ceremony[33] resulting in a fine for $20,000.[34] He finished fifth in the World Drivers' Championship.

Hunt in the 1978 British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch with McLaren M26.
1978

Before the 1978 season Hunt had high hopes to win a second world championship; however, in this season he scored only eight world championship points. Lotus had developed effective ground effect aerodynamics with their Lotus 79 car and McLaren were slow to respond. The M26 was revised as a ground effect car midway through the season but it did not work, and without a test driver to solve the car's problems, Hunt's motivation was low. His inexperienced new team-mate Patrick Tambay even outqualified Hunt at one race. In Germany, Hunt was disqualified for taking a shortcut to allow for a tyre change.[35]

Hunt was also greatly affected by Ronnie Peterson's fatal crash in the 1978 Italian Grand Prix. At the start of the race there was a huge accident going into the first corner. Peterson's Lotus was pushed into the barriers and burst into flames. Hunt, together with Patrick Depailler and Clay Regazzoni, rescued Peterson from the car, but Peterson died one day later in hospital. Hunt took his friend's death particularly hard and for years afterwards blamed Riccardo Patrese for the accident.[36] Video evidence of the crash has since shown that Patrese did not touch Hunt or Peterson's cars, nor did he cause any other car to do so.[37] Hunt believed that it was Patrese's muscling past that caused the McLaren and Lotus to touch, but Patrese argues that he was already well ahead of the pair before the accident took place.[37]

1979: Wolf[edit]

For 1979 Hunt had resolved to leave the McLaren team. Despite his poor season in 1978 he was still very much in demand. He was offered a deal to drive for Ferrari in 1979, but wary of the potentially complicated political environment at the Italian team, he opted to move instead to the initially very successful Walter Wolf Racing team. Again he had high hopes to win races and compete for the world championship in what would be his last, and ultimately brief, Formula One season. The team's ground effect car was uncompetitive and Hunt soon lost any enthusiasm for racing.[38] Hunt could only watch as Jody Scheckter won the World Driver's championship that year driving the Ferrari 312T4.

At the first race in Argentina, he felt the car was difficult to handle and on a fast lap, the front wing became detached, narrowly striking his helmet. In the race, Hunt retired due to an electrical fault. In Brazil, he retired on lap 6 due to instability under braking caused by a loose steering rack. During qualifying in South Africa, the brakes on his car failed. He managed not to collide with the wall, but only finished 8th in the race. He retired at the Spanish Grand Prix after 26 laps. At Zolder, a new Wolf WR8 was raced but Hunt crashed into a barrier hard enough to bounce back onto the track. After failing to finish the 1979 Monaco Grand Prix, the race where six years previously he had made his debut, Hunt made a statement on 8 June 1979 to the press announcing his immediate retirement and walked away from F1 competition citing his situation in the championship.[39] Despite going into retirement, he continued to work to promote his personal sponsors Marlboro and Olympus.[40]

Later career (1979–1993)[edit]

Commentary career[edit]

Soon after retirement, in 1979, Hunt was approached by Jonathan Martin, the head of BBC television sport, to become a television commentator alongside Murray Walker on the BBC 2 Formula One racing programme Grand Prix. After a guest commentary at the 1979 British Grand Prix, Hunt accepted the position and continued for thirteen years until his death. During his first live broadcast at the 1980 Monaco Grand Prix, Hunt placed his plaster-cast leg into Walker's lap and proceeded to drink two bottles of wine during the broadcast.[41][42] Hunt regularly went into the booth minutes before a race started, which concerned Martin who believed that Hunt was "a guy that lived on adrenaline".[43]

In the commentary booth, the producers supplied only one microphone to Walker and Hunt, to avoid them talking over each other. On one occasion, Hunt wanted the microphone and went up to Walker who had continued for longer than expected and Hunt grabbed him at the collar with Walker having his fist near to Hunt.[44] On another occasion, Hunt grabbed the microphone cord and cracked it like a whip, which yanked the microphone out of Walker's hand. Viewers were regularly exposed to his knowledge, insights and dry sense of humour during broadcasts, bringing him a whole new fanbase. He was famous for 'rubbishing' drivers he did not think were trying hard enough –during the BBC's live broadcast of the 1989 Monaco Grand Prix he described René Arnoux's comments that non-turbo cars didn't suit the Frenchman's driving skills as "bullshit".[45] He also had a reputation for speaking out against back-markers who held up race leaders[46] and not holding back on any of his commentaries - in sharp contrast to the gentlemanly Walker.

Other than Arnoux, Hunt's other frequent targets included Andrea de Cesaris, Philippe Alliot, Jean-Pierre Jarier and Riccardo Patrese. Hunt criticized Jean-Pierre Jarier for blocking leaders, calling him "pig ignorant", a "French wally" and having a "mental age of ten" during live broadcasts. Hunt further suggested that Jarier should be banned from racing "for being himself".[47][47][48] Hunt also tended to favour McLaren drivers in accidents with other drivers in other teams, even if the other driver was a former McLaren driver himself.

Less well known is the fact that Hunt didn't want his commentaries broadcast in South Africa during the apartheid years but when he couldn't stop this from happening gave his fees to black-led groups working to overthrow apartheid.[49]

Hunt also commented on Grand Prix racing in newspaper columns which were published in The Independent and elsewhere, and in magazines. Hunt criticized 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell for failing to defend his F1 title in 1993, stating that Mansell left to "avoid racing Alain Prost in the same car" and gave "two fingers to the business and the team". Hunt also described Indycar as "club racing", stating that Mansell could "win the championship easily and then come back to real racing."[50][51]

Attempted comebacks[edit]

In 1980, Hunt nearly made a comeback with McLaren at the United States Grand Prix West, asking for $1 million for the race. This opportunity came about when regular driver Alain Prost broke his wrist during practice for the previous round in South Africa, and the French rookie was not fully fit to drive at Long Beach. The team's main sponsor, Marlboro, offered half the figure but negotiations ended after Hunt broke his leg while skiing. In 1982, Bernie Ecclestone owner of the Brabham team, offered Hunt a salary of £2.6 million for the season but was rejected by Hunt. In 1990, Hunt was in financial trouble with the loss of £180,000 investing in Lloyd's of London[52] and considered a comeback with the Williams team. He had tested on the Paul Ricard Circuit a few months prior to test modern cars and was several seconds off the pace and believed he would be physically prepared. Hunt attempted to persuade John Hogan, VP Marketing of Philip Morris Europe,[53] for support for the possible comeback and presented him with bank statement for proof of being indebted.[54]

Other projects[edit]

Hunt made a brief appearance in the 1979 British silent slapstick comedy "The Plank", as well as co-starring with Fred Emney in a Texaco Havoline TV advertisement. He also made a posthumous appearance on ITV's Police Camera Action! special Crash Test Racers in 2000; this was one of many interviews to be aired posthumously. Hunt also competed in an exhibition race to mark the opening of the new Nürburgring in May 1984.[55] Despite having no licence to ride a motorcycle, he accepted, instead of his usual fee, the then-new 1980 electric start Triumph Bonneville he had contracted to advertise on behalf of the struggling Triumph motorcycle workers' co-operative. With journalistic mirth, he turned up at the press launch with his foot in plaster.[56]

Hunt was hired by John Hogan as an adviser and tutor to drivers who were sponsored by Marlboro, instructing them in the tactics of driving and the approach to racing. Mika Häkkinen was one of the most successful drivers because Hunt had been involved with Häkkinen's discussions about not only racing but about life in general.[43]

Private life[edit]

Public image[edit]

Hunt being interviewed by a BBC reporter

Hunt was notorious for his unconventional behaviour on and off the track, which earned him a reputation for cavalier indulgence in both alcohol and sex.[57] Having been part of Formula One when the series was consolidating its global popularity, Hunt's image was the epitome of the unruly, playboy driver, with a touch of English eccentricity (which included dining with his pet alsatian, Oscar, at expensive Mayfair restaurants).[57]

Early in their careers Hunt and Niki Lauda shared a one-bedroom flat in London, and were close friends off the track. Lauda, in his autobiography To Hell and Back, described Hunt as an "open, honest to God pal". Lauda admired Hunt's burst of speed while Hunt envied Lauda's capacity for analysis and rigour.[58] In the spring of 1974, Hunt moved to Spain on the advice of the International Management Group.[59] Whilst living there as a tax exile, Hunt was the neighbour of Jody Scheckter, and they also came to be very good friends, with Hunt giving Scheckter the nickname Fletcher after the crash-prone bird in the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Another close friend was Ronnie Peterson. Peterson was a quiet and shy man, whilst Hunt was exactly the opposite, but their contrasting personalities made them very close off the track. It was Hunt who discovered Gilles Villeneuve, whom he met after being soundly beaten by him in a Formula Atlantic race in 1976. Hunt then arranged for the young Canadian to make his Grand Prix debut with McLaren in 1977.

Hunt's lifestyle was as controversial as some of the events on track: he was associated with a succession of beautiful women; he preferred to turn up to formal functions in bare feet and jeans; he liked to drink, and also used cocaine and marijuana;[60] and he lived an informal life near the beach in Marbella. He was regularly seen attending nightclubs and discos, and was generally the life and soul of the party. Hunt was an expert ball game player, and regularly played squash and tennis. He also played on the Formula One drivers' cricket and football teams and appeared on the BBC's Superstars more than once.

Personal life and relationships[edit]

Hunt was involved in a relationship with Taormina Rieck (known as Ping by her friends) from the age of 15.[6] Rieck separated from Hunt in May 1971 which left Hunt not seeing his family or friends for long periods of time.[61]

Hunt met his first wife, Suzy Miller, in 1974 in Spain. A few weeks after their initial meeting, he proposed. Hunt held the engagement party at the apartment of his brother Peter, to the guests' surprise. The couple married on 18 October 1974 at the Brompton Oratory in Knightsbridge. By the end of 1975, Suzy had left Hunt for the actor Richard Burton, who paid Hunt's divorce settlement of $1 million, which was finalised in June 1976 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.[57]

In 1982, Hunt moved to Wimbledon.[62] In September that year, he met his second wife, Sarah Lomax, while she was on a holiday in Spain with friends. Hunt started dating Lomax when she arrived back in England and they dated throughout the winter. Hunt and Lomax were married on 17 December 1983 in Marlborough, Wiltshire. Hunt had arrived late for the service with proceedings delayed further when his brother Peter went to a shop to purchase a tie for Hunt.[63] The marriage resulted in two children, Tom and Freddie.[64]

On a visit to Doncaster, Hunt was arrested for an assault, which was witnessed by two police officers, and was released on bail after two hours with the charges against him later being dropped.[65] Hunt and Lomax separated in October 1988 but continued to live together for the best interests of their children. Lomax and Hunt were divorced in November 1989 on the grounds of adultery committed by Hunt.[66]

Hunt met Helen Dyson in the winter of 1989 in a restaurant in Wimbledon, where she worked as a waitress. Dyson was 18 years Hunt's junior and worried about her parents' reactions to him. Hunt kept the relationship secret from friends. The relationship had brought new happiness to Hunt's life, among other factors which included his clean health, his bicycle, his casual approach to dress, his two sons and his Austin A35 van.[67] The day before he died, Hunt proposed to Dyson via telephone.[68]

Death[edit]

Hunt died in 1993 at the age of 45, of a heart attack at his home in Wimbledon, only hours after proposing marriage to Helen Dyson.[69] Two days previously, Hunt cycled from his home to Television Centre to comment on the 1993 Canadian Grand Prix.[70][71]

Hunt's funeral service included a solo trumpeter playing lively hymns in an attempt to raise the spirits of the mourners. The pallbearers included his father Wallis, his brothers Tim, Peter and David, and his friend Bubbles Horsley. They carried the coffin out of the church and into the cortège which drove two miles to Putney Vale Crematorium, where he was cremated. After the service, most of the mourners went to Peter Hunt's home to open a 1922 claret, the year of Wallis Hunt's birth. The claret was given to him by James in 1982 as a present on Wallis's 60th birthday.[72]

Legacy[edit]

Hunt was known as a fast driver with an aggressive, tail-happy driving style, but one prone to spectacular accidents, hence his nickname of Hunt The Shunt. In reality, while Hunt was not necessarily any more accident prone than his rivals in the lower formulae, the rhyme stuck and stayed with him. In the book, James Hunt: The Biography, John Hogan said of Hunt: "James was the only driver I've ever seen who had the vaguest idea about what it actually takes to be a racing driver."[43] Niki Lauda stated that "We were big rivals, especially at the end of the [1976] season, but I respected him because you could drive next to him—2 centimeters, wheel-by-wheel, for 300 kilometers or more—and nothing would happen. He was a real top driver at the time."[73]

After winning the world championship in 1976, Hunt inspired many teenagers to take up motor racing[74] and was retained by Marlboro to give guidance and support to up and coming drivers in the lower formulae. In early 2007, Formula One driver and 2007 World Champion Kimi Räikkönen entered and won a snowmobile race in his native Finland under the name James Hunt. Räikkönen has openly admired the lifestyles of 1970s race car drivers such as Hunt.[75] Hunt's name was lent to the James Hunt Racing Centre in Milton Keynes when it opened in 1990.[76]

A Celebration of the Life of James Hunt was held on 29 September 1993 at St. James's Church, Piccadilly. The service was attended by 600 people and conducted by Reverend Andrew Studdert-Kennedy. The service included readings from Wallis and Sue Hunt from the book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter III and Hunt's sister Sally Jones read Hilaire Belloc's poem 'Jim'. Innes Ireland read Rudyard Kipling's poem 'If' and Helen Dyson read Psalm LXXXIV. Nigel Davison, Director of Music and Master in charge of running Wellington College prefaced the second reading.[77] On January 29, 2014, James Hunt was inducted into the Motor Sport Hall of Fame.

Helmet[edit]

Hunt's helmet featured his name in bold letters along with blue, yellow and red stripes on both sides and room for the sponsor Goodyear, all placed onto a black background.[78] Additionally, the blue, yellow and red bands resemble his Wellington College school colours.[79] During his comeback year to Formula One in 2012, 2007 World Champion Kimi Räikkönen sported a James Hunt painted helmet during the Monaco Grand Prix.[80] Räikkönen repeated the tribute at the 2013 Monaco Grand Prix.[81]

In popular culture[edit]

Racing record[edit]

Complete Formula One World Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position, races in italics indicate fastest lap)

YearEntrantChassisEngine1234567891011121314151617WDCPts.
1973Hesketh RacingMarch 731Ford V8ARGBRARSAESPBELMON
9
SWEFRA
6
GBR
4
NED
3
GERAUT
Ret
ITA
DNS
CAN
7
USA
2
8th14
1974Hesketh RacingMarch 731Ford V8ARG
Ret
BRA
9
8th15
Hesketh 308Ford V8RSA
Ret
ESP
10
BEL
Ret
MON
Ret
SWE
3
NED
Ret
FRA
Ret
GBR
Ret
GER
Ret
AUT
3
ITA
Ret
CAN
4
USA
3
1975Hesketh RacingHesketh 308BFord V8ARG
2
BRA
6
RSA
Ret
ESP
Ret
MON
Ret
BEL
Ret
SWE
Ret
NED
1
FRA
2
GBR
4
GER
Ret
AUT
2
4th33
Hesketh 308CFord V8ITA
5
USA
4
1976Marlboro Team McLarenMcLaren M23Ford V8BRA
Ret
RSA
2
USW
Ret
ESP
1*
BEL
Ret
MON
Ret
SWE
5
FRA
1
GBR
DSQ
GER
1
AUT
4
NED
1
ITA
Ret
CAN
1
USA
1
JPN
3
1st69
1977Marlboro Team McLarenMcLaren M23Ford V8ARG
Ret
BRA
2
RSA
4
USA
7
MON
Ret
5th40
McLaren M26Ford V8ESP
Ret
BEL
7
SWE
12
FRA
3
GBR
1
GER
Ret
AUT
Ret
NED
Ret
ITA
Ret
USA
1
CAN
Ret
JPN
1
1978Marlboro Team McLarenMcLaren M26Ford V8ARG
4
BRA
Ret
RSA
Ret
USW
Ret
MON
Ret
BEL
Ret
ESP
6
SWE
8
FRA
3
GBR
Ret
GER
DSQ
AUT
Ret
NED
10
ITA
Ret
USA
7
CAN
Ret
13th8
1979Olympus Cameras Wolf RacingWolf WR7Ford V8ARG
Ret
BRA
Ret
RSA
8
ESP
Ret
NC0
Wolf WR8Ford V8USW
Ret
BEL
Ret
MON
Ret
FRAGBRGERAUTNEDITACANUSA

* Hunt was initially disqualified due to an "illegal" car, but later reinstated.

Formula One non-championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

YearEntrantChassisEngine123
1973James HuntSurtees TS9Ford V8ROC
3
INT
1974Hesketh RacingMarch 731Ford V8PRE
Ret
Hesketh 308Ford V8ROC
Ret
INT
1
1975Hesketh RacingHesketh 308Ford V8ROCINT
Ret
SUI
7
1976Marlboro Team McLarenMcLaren M23Ford V8ROC
1
INT
1
1977Marlboro Team McLarenMcLaren M23Ford V8ROC
1
1978Marlboro Team McLarenMcLaren M26Ford V8INT
Ret
1979Wolf RacingWolf WR8Ford V8ROCGNM
2
DIN

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Driver: Hunt, James." at the Wayback Machine (archived November 4, 2007) Autocourse Grand Prix Archive, 14 October 2007. Retrieved: 4 November 2007.
  2. ^ "2014 Hall of Fame". Motor Sport Magazine. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  3. ^ Young and Hunt 1978, p. 9.
  4. ^ Donaldson 1994, pp. 11–12.
  5. ^ Donaldson 1994, pp. 16–19.
  6. ^ a b Donaldson 1994, pp. 24–30.
  7. ^ Donaldson 1994, pp. 29–31.
  8. ^ Donaldson 1994, pp. 41–43.
  9. ^ a b Donaldson 1994 pp. 43–45.
  10. ^ Donalson 1994, p. 54.
  11. ^ Goddard, Jeff (Producer), Walker, Murray (Commentator). "Daily Express Trophy Final, October 1970." 100 Great Sporting Moments (BBC-BBC Two, Airdate 1993.
  12. ^ Donaldson 1994, pp. 61–62.
  13. ^ a b Donaldson 1994, pp. 75–76.
  14. ^ Skilleter, Paul (Charles Bulmer, ed.). "Sporting side: Hunt out - Mass in." Motor, 3 June 1972, pp. 46–47.
  15. ^ McDonough 2012, pp. 78–79.
  16. ^ Donaldson 1994, p. 114.
  17. ^ Donaldson 1994, p. 117.
  18. ^ Donaldson 1994, p. 118.
  19. ^ Donaldson 1994, p. 122.
  20. ^ Donaldson 1994, pp. 135–136.
  21. ^ New York Magazine, 7 June 1976, p. 66.
  22. ^ "Hunt wins third grand prix in the confusion." The Glasgow Herald, 19 July 1976, p. 14.
  23. ^ "James Hunt set for war". The News-Dispatch, 9 October 1976, p. 8.
  24. ^ "Dutch Grand Prix Hunt's Birthday Gift."The Pittsburgh Press, 30 August 1976, p. 18.
  25. ^ "Hunt Captures US Grand Prix; Ickx Injured." The Milwaukee Sentinel, 11 October 1976, p. 9B.
  26. ^ Rubython 2010, p. 243.
  27. ^ "Lauda withdrawl [sic] gives Hunt title." Ottawa Citizen, 26 October 1976, p. 19.
  28. ^ "James Hunt's death shocks racing world". The Vindicator, 16 June 1993, p. C3.
  29. ^ Donaldson 1994, p. 254.
  30. ^ Donaldson 1994, pp. 257–259.
  31. ^ "James Hunt Wins Grand Prix Event."Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 18 July 1977, p. 2C.
  32. ^ Williamson, Martin. "'Hunt the punch'." ESPN, 11 June 2010. Retrieved: 12 October 2012.
  33. ^ Medland, Chris. "Fuji's failed finale".ESPN, 4 October 2011. Retrieved: 17 November 2012.
  34. ^ "Hunt snubs Grand Prix ceremony." The Age, 25 October 1977, p. 38.
  35. ^ "Andretti Wins Prix; Nears Formula Title". The Milwaukee Journal, 31 July 1978, p. 4 (Part 2).
  36. ^ "8W - Who? -James Hunt." 8w.forix.com. Retrieved: 11 August 2012.
  37. ^ a b Widdows, R. "Patrese: more sinned against than sinning?" Motor Sport, 83/11, November 2007, pp. 82–85.
  38. ^ Rubython 2010, p. 270.
  39. ^ "James Hunt to retire." The Rock Hill Herald, 8 June 1979, p. 7.
  40. ^ Donaldson 1994, pp. 300–305.
  41. ^ "James 'Hunt The Shunt', The 1970's High-Flyin' Lothario of Formula 1." The Selvedge Yard, 16 October 2010.
  42. ^ "Trackside: Remembering James Hunt." Auto Trader, 30 November 2006.
  43. ^ a b c Donaldson 1994, pp. 312–313.
  44. ^ "Murray Walker: Life in the Fast Lane" (Television Production and video). BBC (London), Airdate 2011.}
  45. ^ Walker, Murray and James Hunt,(Commentators) (7 May 1989). "Monaco Grand Prix May, 7 1989". Season 1989. BBC. BBC Two.
  46. ^ Walker, Murray, and James Hunt,(Commentators). "Portuguese Grand Prix September 23, 1990". Season 1990. BBC. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xl6w2OHOwkk.
  47. ^ a b http://richardsf1.com/2012/07/10/happy-birthday-jean-pierre-jarier/
  48. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGLpaAlZk1I
  49. ^ "Guardian diary Thursday 15th August 2013". The Guardian. Retrieved: 7 September 2013.
  50. ^ http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/obituary-james-hunt-1491961.html
  51. ^ http://www.f1archives.com/magazines/Mag-BBC-GP-93.pdf
  52. ^ "James Hunt 'faced 180,000 pounds losses at Lloyd's'." The Independent, 21 June 1993.
  53. ^ "John Hogan."Grand Prix.com. Retrieved: 24 August 2013.
  54. ^ Donaldson 1994, pp. 310–311.
  55. ^ Edmondson, Laurence."Twenty equal cars, one winner." ESPN, 22 July 2011. Retrieved: 17 November 2012.
  56. ^ Rosamond 2009, p. 183.
  57. ^ a b c Rubython, Tom. "Formula 1 champion James Hunt slept with 33 BA air stewardesses before race | Mail Online." Dailymail.co.uk, 14 October 2010. Retrieved: 24 May 2012.
  58. ^ Chimits et al. 2008, pp. 90–93.
  59. ^ Donaldson 1994, p. 128.
  60. ^ Rubython, Tom . "Turbo charged by lust: How Formula One womaniser James Hunt slept with 33 BA stewardesses before race that made him world champ." Daily Mail(London), 14 October 2010.
  61. ^ Donaldson 1994, pp. 67–68.
  62. ^ Stock, Jon."For sale: F1 star James Hunt's London home". The Telegraph, 16 October 2012. Retrieved: 15 December 2012.
  63. ^ Donaldson 1994, p. 321
  64. ^ "James Hunt: Biography."IMDb. Retrieved: 11 August 2012.
  65. ^ Donaldson 1994, p. 332.
  66. ^ Donaldson 1994, pp. 334–335.
  67. ^ Tremayne, David."Obituary: James Hunt." The Independent, 16 June 1993.
  68. ^ Donaldson 1994, pp. 346–354.
  69. ^ "James Hunt". The Official Formula 1 Website. Retrieved: 22 September 2013.
  70. ^ "Ex-Formula One champ James Hunt dies at 45." Reading Eagle, 16 June 1993.
  71. ^ Donaldson 1994, p. 369.
  72. ^ Donaldson 1994, p. 357.
  73. ^ Stern, Marlow (2013-09-27). "Almost fatal: Legendary Formula One racer Niki Lauda on the season that nearly killed him.". Newsweek. Retrieved 2013-10-09. 
  74. ^ "Formula 1's Greatest Drivers: No. 24, James Hunt". Autosport. Retrieved: 10 August 2012.
  75. ^ Benson, Andrew."Raikkonen the playboy king". BBC Sport, 21 October 2007 . Retrieved: 23 October 2007.
  76. ^ Donaldson 1994, p. 337.
  77. ^ Donaldson 1994, pp. 360–361.
  78. ^ "James Hunt helmet a 'nice design'." ESPN, 25 May 2012.
  79. ^ Donaldson 1994, p. 34.
  80. ^ "Formula One qualifying 2012 at Monaco." Formula 1.com. Retrieved: 22 September 2013.
  81. ^ "Raikkonen told to cover up James Hunt helmet tribute". ESPN. 25 May 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2013. 

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Jackie Stewart
BRDC International Trophy winner
1974
Succeeded by
Niki Lauda
Preceded by
Niki Lauda
BRDC International Trophy winner
1976
Succeeded by
Keke Rosberg
Preceded by
Niki Lauda
Formula One World Champion
1976
Succeeded by
Niki Lauda
Preceded by
Tom Pryce
Brands Hatch Race of Champions winner
1976-1977
Succeeded by
Gilles Villeneuve
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Denny Hulme
Hawthorn Memorial Trophy
1975-1977
Succeeded by
John Watson