Friday night NASCAR lost one of its greatest public relations men in Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Hunter. The 71-year-old lost his battle with lung cancer, something he fought for nearly a year after being diagnosed. It’s a sad day in the world of stock car racing, as throughout NASCAR, Hunter was one of the most charismatic and helpful people you could ever come across.
After graduating from the University of South Carolina, Hunter became the Director of Public Relations at Darlington Raceway in 1968. Over the next 42 years he would leave his mark on the sport in nearly aspect. He covered the sport as a journalist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, became the public relations director for Talladega Superspeedway and NASCAR, was named Vice President of Administration for NASCAR in 1983 and served as President of Darlington Raceway from 1993-2001. In 2001, Hunter was named the Vice President of Corporate Communications for NASCAR, the post he held until his passing.
News of his passing swept through NASCAR Saturday morning, even getting a mention on CNN.com.
“Jim Hunter was one of NASCAR’s giants,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. “For more than 40 years Jim was part of NASCAR and its history. He loved the sport, but loved the people even more. It seems as if everyone in the sport called him a friend. Jim will forever be missed by the NASCAR community. Our sympathies go out to his entire family.”
“Jim was a uniquely talented man that cannot be replaced,” NASCAR president Mike Helton added. “He was a great friend and mentor to so many in the sport. His influence will remain with and be carried on by so many of the people he touched. This is a sad day for Jim’s family and his extended, NASCAR family.”
“We are incredibly saddened by the loss of our very dear friend and legendary NASCAR executive Jim Hunter,” said Lesa France Kennedy, CEO of International Speedway Corporation. “Throughout his storied career, he not only helped bring the sport of NASCAR to a national level, he also had a profound influence on the lives of everyone he met. From his days as a PR Director at Talladega Superspeedway to his tenure as President of Darlington Raceway, Hunter was a driving force behind the sport’s growth in popularity. His charm, sharp wit and incredible sense of humor will be remembered by everyone who had the pleasure of meeting him. We’ll also greatly miss his warm smile and sage advice. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Hunter family and his extended NASCAR family.”
In lieu of flowers the family asked that donations be made to The NASCAR Foundation or Hospice of Volusia/Flagler County.