Originally reported on Racer.com by Chris Medland
Formula 1 commentary legend Murray Walker has passed away at the age of 97.
The Englishman started out in commentating in the 1940s and his first grand prix commentary was the 1949 British Grand Prix. He worked more regularly in motorcycle racing before becoming the BBC’s full-time F1 commentator in 1978. Syndication saw Walker’s voice heard in numerous territories and his unique style became synonymous with the sport in many countries.
Walker became infamous for his energetic, passionate delivery but also many endearing mistakes of confusing lines that became as ‘Murrayisms’ as he worked alongside the likes of James Hunt, Jonathan Palmer and Martin Brundle.
After nearly a quarter of a century in the role, Walker retired from full-time commentary duties in 2001 but continued to be involved in the sport, going on to provide some further radio commentary, regular BBC columns and commentating on the Australian Grand Prix for the local broadcaster, as well as getting involved in the Grand Prix Masters series in the mid-2000s.
In 2013, Walker fell while on holiday in Germany and broke his pelvis, with the incident leading to him being diagnosed with cancer. The disease was caught early and he announced he no longer required chemotherapy later that year.
Walker returned to Formula 1 via Channel 4’s coverage in the United Kingdom — appearing in features and interviews — as his involvement continued into his ’90s, but he had stepped back in recent years prior to the British Racing Drivers’ Club announcing his passing on Saturday.
“It’s with great sadness we share the news of the passing of BRDC associate member Murray Walker OBE,” the BRDC announced. “A friend, a true motorsport legend, the nation’s favorite commentator and a contagious smile. We thank Murray for all he has done for our community. RIP our friend.”
There were tributes from both current and former drivers as the news broke, with Brundle describing him as a “Formula 1 legend” and two-time world champion Mika Hakkinen saying he is “deeply saddened” by Walker’s passing.
“We are immensely sad to hear that Murray Walker has passed away,” a statement from Formula 1 added. “His passion and love of the sport inspired millions of fans around the world. He will forever be a part of our history, and will be dearly missed.”
1996 world champion Damon Hill — who’s victory led Walker to deliver the iconic line, “And I’ve got to stop, because I’ve got a lump in my throat” — tweeted: “Godspeed Murray and thanks for so much. The legend will never die.”
"And I have to stop there as I have a lump in my throat"
Energy, passion, emotion. Few have ever done it as well as Murray pic.twitter.com/YDJoMpeaNl
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 13, 2021
Rest in Peace Murray Walker. Wonderful man in every respect. National treasure, communication genius, Formula One legend.
— Martin Brundle 💙 (@MBrundleF1) March 13, 2021