Legendary Formula 1 commentator Murray Walker started as a Formula 1 commentator in 1976 and remained so for a long time. The British Racing Drivers’ Club reported on Saturday that the iconic commentator has died at the age of 97. The cause of death is not yet known.
His death was announced by Silverstone owner the British Racing Drivers’ Club on Saturday evening.
Walker’s career stretched from just before the start of the F1 world championship to the early 2000s, and he continued to make semi-regular appearances in F1 television coverage for two decades after he retired from full-time commentating.
Having competed in motorcycle racing and trials in his youth, Walker was building a successful career in advertising when he made his first commentary appearance at a Shelsley Walsh hillclimb in 1948, before beginning work with the BBC on the radio coverage of the 1949 British Grand Prix.
Though synonymous with F1 and regarded as the voice of the championship for a generation, his commentary career encompassed virtually every aspect of motorsport on both two and four wheels, as well as a wide array of other sporting disciplines.
He commentated on F1 full-time from 1978 to 2001, primarily with the BBC but also with the early years of the ITV era.
Walker’s partnership with 1976 F1 world champion James Hunt – which ran from 1980 until Hunt’s sudden death in 1993 – is remembered particularly fondly.
His famously passionate style played a big part in F1’s rise in popularity in the UK through the 1980s and 1990s.
After Hunt’s death, Jonathan Palmer commentated alongside Walker for the remainder of the BBC era before Martin Brundle became his new partner when ITV took over F1 rights in 1997.
“Rest in Peace Murray Walker,” Brundle wrote on Twitter. “Wonderful man in every respect. National treasure, communication genius, Formula 1 legend.”
Walker stepped back from full-time commentary after the 2000 F1 season, covering a partial season in 2001 before finishing with that year’s United States GP.
He continued to make occasional appearances as a presenter and in recorded features as part of ITV, the BBC and Channel 4’s coverage across the subsequent two decades, and will always be regarded as an icon of British motorsport and F1 broadcasting.
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