James Hunt Biography

James Simon Wallis Hunt was a British racing driver who became hugely popular in 1970s. Check out this biography to know about his childhood, life, achievements, works and timeline.

James Hunt
Quick Facts

Birthday: August 29, 1947

Nationality: British

Famous: F1 Drivers British Men

Died At Age: 45

Sun Sign: Virgo

Also Known As: James Simon Wallis Hunt, Hunt the Shunt

Born in: Belmont, Sutton

Famous as: F1 Driver

Family:

Spouse/Ex-: Sarah Lomax, Suzy Hunt

father: Wallis Hunt

mother: Sue Hunt

siblings: David Hunt, Georgina Hunt, Peter Hunt, Sally Hunt, Timothy Hunt

children: Freddie Hunt, Tom Hunt

Died on: June 15, 1993

place of death: Wimbledon

More Facts

education: Wellington College, Berkshire

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James Simon Wallis Hunt was a British racing driver. He became immensely popular in the 1970s and won the Formula One World Championship in 1976. He had a colourful personality which combined with his handsome looks and playboy image, won him the love and affection of many young people. Although he started his career as a touring car racing driver, he gradually advanced to Formula Three in 1969 when he became a part of the Hesketh Racing team. He came to be known as ‘Hunt the Shunt’ for his thrilling adventures on the racing track. In 1973, he entered Formula One representing the Hesketh Racing team and driving a March 731. Later, he won both World Championship and non-Championship races for them, driving the Hesketh 308 car. Towards the end of 1975, he joined the McLaren team and won the World Drivers' Championship in 1976. After a couple of years he joined the Wolf team but was unsuccessful in completing a series of races, perhaps because he had lost the thrill in the sport. He retired from his racing career in the mid season of 1979. Following his retirement, he continued to create an impact as a television commentator and businessman, but died all of a sudden at the age of 45.

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James Hunt
Childhood & Early Life
  • James Hunt was born on August 29, 1947, in Belmont to a London stockbroker, Wallis Hunt and his wife Sue Hunt. He was the second child of the family and had an elder sister and four younger siblings.
  • He got educated at Westerleigh School in Hastings from 1955 and later at Wellington College in Crowthorne, Berkshire. As a young boy, he was resolute by nature and became a talented sportsman, excelling in tennis and squash.
  • Exposure to an auto race before his 18th birthday motivated him to become a professional car racer. However, given his whimsical temperament, his parents did not support his plans. He did odd jobs to purchase a previously owned Mini and dedicated two years race-preparing it. His entry was, however, disqualified because the driver's seat was an old lawn chair. He later worked as a trainee manager of a telephone company to collect necessary funds to prepare for races.
  • In the initial days of his racing ventures, he met several big accidents that instilled fear in him. Gradually, he learned to overcome these fears momentarily in order to win races but would throw up in the garage.
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Career
  • In 1968, he raced in Formula Ford and drove a Russell-Alexis Mk 14 car. In his first race, he finished at the fifth position. He first won at Lydden Hill and set a lap record on the Brands Hatch short circuit.
  • In 1969, he raced in Formula Three and drove a Meryln Mk11A car. Thereafter, he won several races and created a reputation for himself. In 1972, he was dropped from the STP-March Formula Three team.
  • He signed up with the Hesketh team in 1973. Initially, the team entered him in Formula Two but with little success. He was later entered in Formula One according to Lord Hesketh’s wishes. He drove the Hesketh March 731 and won the second position at the 1973 United States Grand Prix.
  • In 1974, he was successful at the BRDC International Trophy non-Championship race at Silverstone. In 1975, he won the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort. Soon, Hesketh was running short of funds leading Hunt to sign up with McLaren for the next season.
  • 1976 was the most remarkable season of his career. He drove the McLaren M23 and won six F1 Grand Prix that year. He was the last British F1 champion until Nigel Mansell won the 1992 championship for Williams.
  • The season of 1977 started on a rough note with McLaren M26 underperforming but by the year end, he and McLaren M26 emerged quicker than most rival combination. He won in Silverstone and Watkins Glen. He also won the race in Fuji but was imposed a heavy fine for not attending the podium ceremony. He finished fifth in the World Drivers' Championship that year.
  • In 1978, he wanted to win a second world championship; however, he could manage to score only eight world championship points due to the slow responding McLaren M26.
  • By 1979, he was determined to part with the McLaren team. He received a deal from Ferrari but opted to join the Walter Wolf Racing team instead. He desired to win more races and compete for world championship. However, he soon lost motivation as he realised that the team’s car was not good enough. On June 8, 1979 he announced his retirement from F1 competition.
  • After his retirement, he took up television commentary for BBC's Formula One coverage and continued for thirteen years until his death.
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Major Works
  • James Hunt won a total of ten Grand Prix during his lifetime out of which six were won in the year 1976 when he was part of team McLaren.
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Awards & Achievements
  • In 1973, James Hunt was awarded the Campbell Trophy for putting forward the best performance by a British in F1.
  • In 1976, he was awarded the Tarmac Trophy along with two cheques of total value £2500 and other awards, by the Duke of Kent.
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Personal Life & Legacy
  • James Hunt married Suzy Miller in October 1974 but by the end of 1975, she moved on with Richard Burton, who also paid Hunt's divorce settlement of $1 million.
  • He married Sarah Lomax in December 1983. Together, they had two children, Tom and Freddie. They divorced in November 1989.
  • He died of heart attack in his sleep on June 15, 1993. He was 45 years old and had proposed to Helen Dyson via telephone a day before his death.
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Trivia
  • Fellow racer Ronnie Peterson's fatal car crash in the 1978 Italian Grand Prix had affected Hunt deeply.
  • Regardless of having earned millions in his lifetime, he was in terrible financial state at the time of his death.
  • In 2013, Ron Howard directed a movie called ‘Rush’ based on James Hunt’s life.
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How To Cite

Article Title
- James Hunt Biography
Author
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
Website
- TheFamousPeople.com
URL
https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/james-hunt-6749.php
Last Updated
- September 22, 2017

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