Hunt’s spirit of ‘76

Herald Sun - Motoring - - On The Web - TIMBLAIR blairt@dai­lytele­graph.com.au

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.

LUSH FIELDS

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)

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