Saturday, October 30, 2010

NASCAR Loses A Giant


Here is the official info from NASCAR on the passing of Jim Hunter:

NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Hunter, whose career in motorsports spanned portions of six decades as both a journalist and public relations professional, died last night in Daytona Beach, Fla. following a 12-month battle with cancer. He was 71. "Jim Hunter was one of NASCAR's giants," said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. "For more than 40 years Jim was part of NASCAR and its history. He loved the sport, but loved the people even more. It seems as if everyone in the sport called him a friend. Jim will forever be missed by the NASCAR community. Our sympathies go out to his entire family." Added NASCAR President Mike Helton: "Jim was a uniquely talented man that cannot be replaced. He was a great friend and mentor to so many in the sport. His influence will remain with and be carried on by so many of the people he touched. This is a sad day for Jim's family and his extended, NASCAR family." As a young man growing up in his native South Carolina, Hunter was a football and baseball player at the University of South Carolina. Those years preceded a future of being immersed in the sports world, primarily motorsports. Hunter learned motorsports from "both sides" by working as a newspaper reporter/editor and a public relations representative. As a member of the media, Hunter was sports editor of the Columbia Record newspaper; he had an award-winning stint at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution; he was a columnist for Stock Car Racing magazine; and he authored a number of books, including a widely-read biography on NASCAR great David Pearson, entitled "21 Forever". On the public relations side, Hunter broke into that business in the 1960s, with Dodge's motorsports operation. He handled public relations for a number of top IndyCar drivers before going on to become the public relations director at his beloved Darlington Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway. In 1983, Hunter was named to his first executive position in his first NASCAR stint, becoming NASCAR's vice president of administration. In 1993 he was named president of Darlington Raceway and corporate vice president of the International Speedway Corporation. He remained at Darlington until 2001 when he accepted an offer from then-NASCAR Chairman and CEO Bill France Jr. to return to Daytona Beach to lead an expanded public relations effort aimed at responding to the needs of burgeoning media coverage. Hunter won numerous awards during his career, including: the Hugh Deery Memorial Award in 1988; South Carolina Ambassador for Economic Development in 1994; South Carolina Tourism Ambassador of the Year in 1997; the National Motorsports Press Association's Joe Littlejohn Award in 2005; and the Buddy Shuman Award in 2006. Hunter is survived by his wife of 48 years, Ann Hunter; his children, Scott Hunter and Amy McKernan and his grandchildren Dakota Hunter, and Hunter and Luke McKernan. In lieu of flowers the family asked that donations be made to The NASCAR Foundation or Hospice of Volusia/Flagler County. Funeral arrangements will be announced later.

12 comments:

Gymmie said...

RIP Mr. Hunter :( {\o/}

red said...

so very sad. our sport has lost one of the classiest guys to ever wear "nascar" on his sleeve.
RIP, indeed, Mr Hunter. RIP, indeed.

David said...

Sad day for our sport. He will be missed by all indeed.

RIP Mr. Hunter

Sophia said...

RIP Mr. Hunter

Condolences to the family.

glenc1 said...

He was a rare individual; he will be missed. Nice tribute on Speed.

Ken-Michigan said...

Mr Hunter was a good guy. A REAL good guy. I didn't know him very well at all, but whenever I had questions or wanted an interview with him, he never ever told me no.

Part of the fabric that made NASCAR what it is today has left us.... sad day.

Buschseries61 said...

RIP Mr. Hunter

Speed did a very good job covering this story.

Anonymous said...

Very sad to hear - probably the last "icon" from the old days. Jim Hunter knew what NASCAR was all about - he "got" it.

Anonymous said...

After losing Jeff Byrd from Bristol Motor Speedway a couple of weekends ago, the NASCAR fans have lost another person important to us all. Jim Hunter was a very good person, a big race fan, and a friend to all of NASCAR. He will definitely be missed.

-- Robbie, Canton OH

Anonymous said...

Jeff Byrd, Ed Shull and Jim Hunter - all great folks. It's been a rough year.

Bobby said...

I met Jim in 1996 as part of NASCAR Day in college (honored Humpy Wheeler, Jim Duncan, and Jim Hunter -- all football teammates) during the Arkansas-South Carolina game. Humpy was a lineman, and Hunter was a running back. A few years ago, they gave replica jerseys to Wheeler (#55) and Hunter (#22).

Great all-around guy. Listening to today's Tennessee-South Carolina game on the radio, Todd Ellis (himself a former Gamecock quarterback) noted the letters Jim won in football and baseball. He also noted Mr. Hunter's daughter married a linebacker on the teams that he played. As a South Carolina graduate, I am saddened by this loss.

Forever to thee, Mr. Hunter! #22

On my Facebook page today I've posted the photo that I took of Mr. Hunter as a tribute to this classy gentleman.

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000025465849

Darcie said...

God Bless his family and all those who loved Jim Hunter