The Shunt

It’s twenty years today since the early death of James Hunt at the age of 45. He was the very definition of the playboy race car driver in the 70’s with plenty of action on, hence the nickname ‘The Shunt’, as well as off the track, just look at his race coveralls patch just below his embroidered blood type.

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His model wife Suzy Miller is sporting the a T-shirt with the Hesketh Team logo: a teddy bear in full face helmet. The young Lord Hesketh being the teams backer. As an aside Suzy left Hunt for actor Richard Burton including a million pound settlement…

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Not to worry though there was plenty more life to live on the edge of speed; here seen enjoying the harbor life of Monaco with friend Barry Sheene. The pair made their mark on the world Grand Prix stage in 1976, James in Formula One and Bazza on his motorcycle. The fans following their exploits on and off the circuits around the globe. A real pair of cheeky chappies!

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However when the going got tough they were up there with the best of ’em! Each taking world champion titles that year. Here’s a great behind the scenes shot of the mechanics shed for Maclaren (who took him to his title) in flared jeans, sandals and a relaxed brotherly attitude.

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His rival at the time was Nikki Lauder, a great of his day and worthy opponent. Mere weeks after a fiery crash at the Nürburgring where he suffered burns to his face and head he was back in the seat to maintain his points lead over Hunt. The season was down to the last race at Fuji Japan with Hunt winning by one point over Lauder after Niki withdrew over the wet course conditions.

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This climactic season is the subject of an upcoming film from Ron Howard “Rush”. Should be good!
James went on to become a foil for world class motor racing commentator Murray Walker and their colorful banter for the Formula One racing made watching them exciting, with Murrays excited exuberance and James’ pithy remarks .

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He’s legend in the high stakes world of speed and lived that life with gusto.

One Comment to “The Shunt”

  1. Man, this took me back. My Aussie mate and I went to the UK in 1976, saw Bazza Sheene at the Isle of Man in 1977, and Hunt at Brands Hatch the same year. The photo’s you’ve unearthed are very evocative of the period, even down to the last one where James is wearing his Greek ‘worry beads’, a very strong fad at the time, with me still having my very worn set which during some 10 years of that period I never took off.

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