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The voice of F1, Murray Walker, has died

NEWS STORY
13/03/2021

Murray Walker, for millions of fans of the sport, the voice of F1, has died aged 97.

The British Racing Drivers' Club - of which he was a long-standing associate member – announced the sad news this evening shortly after the second day of pre-season testing had come to an end.

"It is with great sadness we share the news of the passing of BRDC Associate member Murray Walker OBE," read the statement from the 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."

Son of a motorcycle racer, on leaving the army, having attained the rank of captain with the 4th Armoured Brigade, Murray Walker took up motor cycle racing, at one stage competing against future world champion - on two and four wheels - John Surtees.

His 'day job' was in advertising, and though he denied the claim that he came up with the famous Mars Bar slogan, 'A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play', he was the brains behind the almost equally famous slogan, 'Opal Fruits, made to make your mouth water', among others.

A keen fan of motorsport, Walker first served as commentator publicly at the Shelsley Walsh hillclimb in 1948 and subsequently auditioned for the BBC at the 1949 Easter Monday race at Oulton Park. That same year he formed part of the BBC's commentary team at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Over the years that followed, while still working in advertising, he commentated on various forms of motorsport across the disciplines.

At a time television coverage of F1 was sporadic he occasionally served as commentator, taking up a full time role when the BBC began regular coverage in 1978.

Between 1980 and 1993 he formed a legendary partnership with James Hunt, the two playing off one another in a combination that proved popular even with TV viewers who were not fans of the sport.

Following Hunt's untimely death in 1993, Walker worked with Jonathan Palmer until the end of 1996, subsequently paring up with Martin Brundle from 1997.

Though his final F1 race as official commentator was the 2001 United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis, Walker continued to make appearances at the microphone at various events over the years that followed.

While his numerous gaffes - to become known as 'Murrayisms' - earned him the sobriquet 'Muddled Talker', his sheer enthusiasm and infectious passion was unrivalled and for many millions of all ages he will always be the voice of F1.

As news of his death spread through the paddock and beyond, drivers, team bosses, fellow broadcasters and fans around the world paid tribute to the man who had entertained them and fired their enthusiasm for decades, talking them through some of the most iconic moments in the sport's history, not least that awful weekend in 1994.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Pipsary, 19/03/2021 16:44

"Murry Walker.

Murry Walker was, to me, and many others, the ‘Voice of Formula 1’. Over the years he has given us so many amazing commentaries, interviews, comments and Murryism’s which we have come to of loved and remember.
At times Murry was in a higher pitched scream than some of those V10’s!

I myself am a marshal at Silverstone and although I only had a brief meeting with the great man, he made the effort to stop one day in his light blue Jaguar just to say ‘Thank you for what you do’, that made my weekend and it was only the Friday morning of a three-day event!

From me, a mere mortal in F1, to a true great of F1, thank you for everything. RIP, you legend.
"

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2. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 15/03/2021 17:47

"He was brilliant and had that infectious tone and pitch that great commentators have.
I read his autobiography years ago and it is for sure one of the better F1 books out there.
Walker's life away from the track was for me, just as interesting too."

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3. Posted by Paul C, 15/03/2021 3:19

"Most of my Murray Walker memories come from PlayStation F1 games. Americans got along with 2 Brits(Hobbs & Matchett) and miscellaneous "interpreters" like Sam Posey, Bob Varsha, and Leigh Diffey.
My kids picked up on their favorite Murray phrase, "sweating buckets of adrenaline". Thanks Murray for providing a golden example for all Formula One broadcasters. "

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4. Posted by nickp, 14/03/2021 13:02

"Murray Walker was the David Attenborough of F1"

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5. Posted by Wokingchap, 14/03/2021 11:38

"Murray and James were funnier than Morecambe and wise especially when James had to correct Murray on some technical comment..... unforgettable. RIP dear chap."

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6. Posted by Fambank, 14/03/2021 7:22

"Among other things, his enthousiasm got me hooked on F1.

RIP Murray."

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7. Posted by Greg, 14/03/2021 6:56

"Surely missed. RIP Murray "

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8. Posted by kenji, 14/03/2021 1:08

"Murray was one of the really good guys in F1. He'll be missed. Time changes everything."

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9. Posted by Simon in Adelaide, 14/03/2021 0:13

"I wonder if 'Our Nige' still has Murray's fingerprint on his forehead?

To list every Murrayism would probably take more gigabytes than I have capacity on my computer, from rallycross to F1 they were priceless and bring a smile to my face on remembering.

Vale Murray."

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10. Posted by Editor, 13/03/2021 23:07

"Back when the 'Racing Car Show" was held in London, I saw Murray Walker on a stand signing books.

A couple of nights earlier I had been playing Trivial Pursuit and the answer to one of the questions was 'Murray Walker'.

The question was along the lines of "who said something or other...", but the thing is I remembered the comment when it was originally made ahead of the Italian Grand Prix one year and I was positive it wasn't Murray Walker.

Walking up to Murray I told him about the game - he said he often played it - and I asked if he had made that particular comment, he said he hadn't.

"A ha," I laughed, and this being in the days before mobile phones, asked if he'd mind telling my friend that he hadn't made said comment.

I then proceeded to guide Murray for what seemed like ages until we eventually found a pay phone, and as agreed he passed on the news that the answer was wrong and that he had never made the comment.

Being a big guy, Murray must have been worried that he was being kidnapped, but he honoured my request in good spirit."

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