Hunt’s spirit of ‘76
NEARLY 20 years after his death, British Formula One driver James Hunt might be about to become more famous than he was even during his world championship year of 1976.
Already there are 10 or so titles available on Amazon dedicated to the hellraising Brit and next year he’ll be portrayed by Australian actor Chris Hemsworth in Ron Howard’s Rush, based on Hunt’s battle for the ’ 76 title with Austrian Niki Lauda.
Advance shots from the film demonstrate impressive attention to detail, although F1 nerds (guilty as charged) will note that modern radial racing tyres don’t look anything at all like the bulbous cross-ply Goodyears used back in the day. Unlike those new tyres, however, Hemsworth is perfectly cast and he’s also within a year of Hunt’s championship age.
Hunt’s fan base extends to people who weren’t alive during his peak. Current F1 driver Kimi Raikkonen was born in 1979, the year Hunt abruptly walked away from F1 after completing just four laps of the Monaco Grand Prix.
At last weekend’s Monaco event, Raikkonen competed in a helmet painted in Hunt’s dramatic style, complete with massive JAMES HUNT lettering.
More people would have seen that famous helmet this year than had witnessed it in any actual Hunt race.
An impressive and affectionate tribute from the Finnish vodka enthusiast, who shares more than just driving talent with his late idol.
AS Rush celebrates Hunt’s title pursuit, a production line of motorsport-themed feature films may soon follow:
Hush: The tragic tale of noise limits for V8 Supercars, which are muffled to near silence. Older fans fondly recall the unmuffled era and they’ll gladly tell you about it if they could only hear you asking.
Crush: Remember when Russell Ingall swerved towards fellow Holden driver Mark Skaife, standing furiously trackside at Eastern Creek in 2003 after he’d been punted off the course? You can bet that Skaife does. And possibly also Skaife’s dry-cleaner.
Gush: A doco on automotive press releases, read in a morbid monotone by a motoring flack who gets through these outrageous documents thanks only to prescription drugs.
Posthumous honours: At the Monaco GP, Kimi Raikkonen (main picture) dips his lid (inset) to James Hunt (in his playboy prime, above)