Pre-eminent motorsport commentator Murray Walker dies, aged 97

Thomas Harrison-Lord
Murray Walker, 1993 Monaco Grand Prix.
Murray Walker interviews Damon Hill, 1993 Monaco Grand Prix. copyright

One of motorsport’s most beloved figures, commentator Murray Walker, has passed away today, aged 97.

Murray Walker served in the Second World War, after which he began commentary in 1948 for motorcycle events. In the 1970s, he started covering Formula 1, describing the races in his unique and enthusiastic style. He continued to work in the sport all the way until his final full-time race, the 2001 United States Grand Prix. After retiring, he remained as engaged and knowledgeable about racing as ever.

Other motorsports that he brought life to were rallycross, the BTCC in its 1990s heyday and the Bathurst 1000 race during its Super Touring era.

Murray was renowned for making even the dullest race interesting, constantly looking at the bright-side and updating the viewer with the latest information.

He made a mark in the world of video games too, being the in-game commentator for the 1996 game ‘Formula 1’ and featuring in the titles until Formula One 2001. As you drove around the circuits, Murray would excitedly shout out driver names in a style only he knew how: “Un-be-lievable! Oh, my word! It’s Alesi!”

He made a brief return to video games in F1 2013, tying into that game’s classic cars and tracks. He would introduce races within the ‘Classics Mode’.

Murray Walker commentates on Johnny Herbert’s video game performance. British Grand Prix Party, Silverstone, 10th July 2005. Motorsport Images.

Senior F1 Franchise Director at Codemasters, Paul Jeal, who worked with Murray on F1 2013, had the following to say:

“I grew up to the sound of F1 and Murray Walker, watching on the BBC with my Mum and Dad from about 1985/6. I was hooked instantly.

“Meeting Murray was one of the highlights of my working life, probably only second to meeting Michael Schumacher, my all-time F1 idol.

“We had arranged for Murray to do some voice recording for F1 2013. On the day, we had a long chat before we got going, talking through our mutual love of Formula 1. There was quite a lot to get through but Murray got straight into the booth, delivering the lines with the passion and style he is renowned for; ‘One light, two lights, three lights, four lights, five lights and it’s go, go, go!’

“He insisted on standing up the entire time. We had to enforce him to sit down, take a break and rehydrate. At the end of the session, we asked him to recreate a few of his most iconic lines, and handed him the script… but of course, he didn’t need it. He just went into autopilot and full flow, with classic line after line, murray-isms in full flow.

“I’m truly saddened by the news. He’ll be sorely missed in the sport we all love so much.”

The British Racing Drivers’ Club issued a statement this evening, announcing the news.

“It is with great sadness we share the news of the passing of BRDC Associate member Murray Walker OBE. 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,” said the statement.

“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.”

Without him, the motorsport world will be a less energetic place. He will be sorely missed by the Traxion team. Our thoughts are with his friends and family.

Images provided by Motorsport Images.

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