James Hunt on the winner’s podium (L to R): Patrick Depailler (FRA) Tyrrell, second; race winner James Hunt (GBR) McLaren; John Watson (GBR) Penske, third. French Grand Prix, 1976. — Image © Phipps / Sutton Images / Corbis
I’m stoked to see Rush this weekend– the much anticipated film by Ron Howard on one of Formula One’s most talented and notorious drivers ever, James “The Shunt” Hunt. The seemingly insatiable ladies’ man was estimated to have had 5,000 trysts in his lifetime. History tells of a wicked weekend where buddy and fellow (motorcycle) racing legend Barry Sheene tallied 33 BA stewardesses lined-up at the door of their Tokyo Hilton suite. It’ll be interesting to see if Chris Hemsworth is able to capture his wit and charm, and if he can keep his muscles from overshadowing the memory of Hunt’s lean, lanky frame hard-earned by a physical exercise regiment consisting largely of driving, and shagging. The perfect primer for Rush is the documentary When Playboy’s ruled the World which accurately and colorfully takes you back to the glory days of Hunt & Sheene when driving was dangerous, and sex was safe. More epic photos of James Hunt in action after the video…
May, 23rd 1977 — Monaco, what does the future hold? Not marriage, according to James Hunt. He says that he and girlfriend Jane Birbeck are blissfully happy as they are. Under British law Hunt is still married to Suzy Miller, despite the fact that she has now gone through a wedding ceremony with actor Richard Burton.
James Hunt at the 1974 Brazilian Grand Prix weekend. — Image © Sutton
1982, James Hunt getting cozy with a model– that look in his eyes says it all.
James Hunt at the 1976 Dutch Grand Prix. It would be his best year– six Grand Prix wins.
1975, James Hunt in the Team Hesketh 308 Ford-powered Formula One race car. “The Good Lord” Alexander Hesketh (As Hunt called him) was an eccentric young British aristocrat who inherited a fortune and spent it lavishly on personal entertainment. Though he knew nothing about motorsport he decided to amuse himself by forming his own racing team and hired ‘Superstar’ (his nickname for Hunt) as his driver. The Hesketh Racing team had limited success in Formula Three and Formula Two but gained notoriety for seeming to consume as much champagne as fuel and for having more beautiful women than mechanics. Since the Good Lord was having so much fun in racing’s lower ranks he thought it naturally followed that even more sport could be had at the highest level. When Hesketh Racing arrived on the scene in 1974 the Formula One fraternity thought the team was a joke. The ridicule became grudging respect when James Hunt’s Hesketh beat Niki Lauda’s Ferrari to win the 1975 Dutch Grand Prix. via
James Hunt and the epic “Sex, Breakfast of Champions” match he made famous.
His good looks, extrovert personality and unconventional behaviour made the ‘Golden Boy’ hugely popular with a wide public. He had a commanding presence and spoke impressively in a deep voice with a cultivated accent, saying exactly what he thought. He hated dressing up, always wore tattered blue jeans and often walked around in his bare feet, even on formal occasions. He drank heavily, smoked 40 cigarettes a day, occasionally took drugs, had a madcap social life and a succession of beautiful girlfriends. He married one of them, Suzy, a fashion model who eventually left him for the actor Richard Burton. Burton offered to pay Hunt’s divorce settlement to Suzy: $1 million. Burton couldn’t believe that Hunt was so casual about letting go of his beautiful wife. Hunt simply said: “Relax, Richard. You’ve done me a wonderful turn by taking on the most alarming expense account in the country.” via
Watkins Glen, October 1977– Celebrations, James Hunt style (smoke, drink & Penthouse Pet), in victory lane following his triumph over local hero Mario Andretti in the United States Grand Prix. Image © Sutton via
James Hunt living up to his reputation as an insatiable ladies’ man.
“If you think my girlfriend can fight– you should see her box.” –James Hunt’s epic t-shirt.
1981, James Hunt crashes.
James Hunt in IROC (International Race of Champions) jacket. While he became a media darling for the tabloid press his behavior was less appreciated by Formula One journalists, who found him a frustrating mixture of boisterous charm and overbearing conceit. Twice he was voted the least liked driver and despairing members of the Formula One establishment accused him of bringing the sport into disrepute. Having achieved his championship goal his enthusiasm for racing began to wane. He admitted he never really enjoyed driving and finally, after two more seasons with McLaren, then a few races with Wolf, he retired mid-way through 1979, “for reasons of self-preservation.” via
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It should be good!
“When playboys ruled”…. a great lead in to the movie Rush, They don’t make em’ like that any more. Hunt and Sheene lived the life, RIP guys.
makes todays ‘Rock’n’roll’ and Rap “rebels” look a bit sad doesn’t it…………
Hunt was great but Lauda was greater!
When men were men and racetracks were nervous.
Lauda was one of my F1 heroes but I am friends with one of James’ brothers. The Hunt family was given a private screening of Rush and were left with mixed opinions of the final product. There is an excellent BBC documentary on youtube which covers the 1976 F1 season in depth sans Hollywood creative license.