Formula One World Championship

1. His race-day ritual included throwing up, partially because of pre-race jitters, but also because of the previous evening’s carousing.


2. Throughout much of his career, Hunt dedicated the right front breast of his racing suit—prime advertising real estate most sponsors would pay dearly for—to a round patch emblazoned with the image of a flexed arm muscle and the words, “Sex, Breakfast of Champions.” Later he would swap the patch for a more dignified one declaring, “Sex is a performance thing.”


3. Hunt’s climb to the top began with Hesketh Racing, a team founded essentially on a whim by Lord Thomas Alexander Fermor-Hesketh; a Brit with more money than God, and a voracious appetite for good times rivaled only by Hunt’s.


4. As Hesketh Racing began to experience success, the team maintained a so-called “leisure division” to ensure it was always well stocked in wine, women, and song. And Rolls-Royces. And a jet or two. And a private helicopter. Did we mention the yacht?

James Hunt smoking


5. Although Hunt changed his ways after settling into a career as an F1 commentator for the BBC, his irascible personality still shone through on occasion. When French driver René Arnoux addressed his poor performance by stating that he was used to turbocharged cars and the naturally aspirated cars are a totally different kettle of fish, Hunt famously deadpanned, “All I can to say to that is bullshit.”


6. When Hunt lost his supermodel wife to British actor Richard Burton, Hunt told Burton, “Relax, ­Richard. You’ve done me a wonderful turn by taking on the most alarming expense account in the country.”


7. When Hunt went to McLaren for the 1976 season, he refused to sign a clause in his contract that stipulated he wear a suit and tie to sponsor functions, often appearing barefoot in only a T-shirt and jeans.


8. For no obvious reason other than to enjoy his company, Hunt, on several occasions, took Oscar, his German Shepherd, on dinner dates in London’s west end.  The canine was also granted an associate membership to Hunt’s golf club so it could accompany him on his daily round.


9. Hunt arrived late and suitably lubricated to his 1983 wedding to Sarah Lomax, and delayed the proceedings even further when he realized he had no tie and had to dispatch his brother to purchase one. The union ended in divorce.


10. So enduring is Hunt’s legacy, Formula 1 driver and 2007 world champion Kimi Räikkönen entered and won a snowmobile race in his native Finland under the name James Hunt, and often checks into hotels and makes reservations using the alias.


Lauda & Hunt