Murray Walker has passed away today, aged 97.
The legendary Formula 1 commentator to many was the voice of the sport. His witty character and charismatic charm was the reason several million people tuned into their television sets every race Sunday.
“It is with great sadness we share the news of the passing of BRDC Associate member Murray Walker OBE,” read a statement issued by the British Racing Drivers’ Club
“A friend, a true motorsport legend, the nation’s favourite commentator and a contagious smile. Murray will be sadly missed. His mark and voice will live on in motorsport and our hearts forever.
“We thank Murray for all he has done for our community. Sending our love and thoughts to Murray’s family and friends in this difficult time.
“RIP our friend.”
People dubbed them as Murrayisms – a way Murray used his animated enthusiasm to liven up the race coverage. A special way Walker could take an aspect of the race, even the most dull ones, and turn it into something unique.
David Coulthard once said, “he made even the most boring race sound interesting.”
Some of Murray’s wit and raillery even trickled down onto New Zealand racers, with this quote about Paul Radisich particularly comical: “The European drivers have adapted to this circuit extremely quickly, especially Paul Radisich who’s a New Zealander.”
Walker’s career stretched from just before the start of the F1 world championship to the early 2000s. His close friendship with 1976 F1 world champion James Hunt, which ran until Hunt’s sudden passing in 1993, was particularly fond for F1 fans.
He initially reported on motorcycle racing, starting his career with a stint as the PA announcer at the Shelsley Walsh hill-climb before catching the ears of several BBC producers. Soon, Walker was doing small gigs commentating F1 at Silverstone before eventually working his way to becoming the lead announcer for the full world championship.
Walker’s last full-time race behind the microphone was the 2001 US Grand Prix.
In his autobiography: Murray Walker: Unless I am very much Mistaken, Walkers says this: “Old soldiers never die, they only fade away, and I want to do so with dignity, keep the light burning brightly until my time comes.”
“Rest in Peace Murray Walker,” tweeted Martin Brundle, who served as Walker’s co-commentator from 1997 until his retirement.
“Wonderful man in every respect. National treasure, communication genius, Formula 1 legend.”
“It is with great sadness that I have to inform Silverstone’s fans that Murray Walker died earlier today,” said Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle.
“He was to so many of us fans of F1, the voice that epitomised the sport we love. Knowledgeable beyond words and with a passion that occasionally got the better of him in commentary, he brought the sport and some of its greatest moments to life in a way that ensured they remained seared in our memories for ever.
“Much will be written about the impact that Murray had on the sport and we will make a more fulsome tribute in due course, but for the time being rest in peace Murray and thank you.”
We will never forget you Murray.