One of Murray Walker’s favorite sayings was, “Those who can, can, those who can’t, talk about it.”
Truer words were never uttered, nor lived by them, for for a man who had never even participated in a motor race of any significance, Murray Walker was one of the most esteemed names. F1.
A man known as “The Voice of F1” passed away at the age of 97 on Saturday, March 13, leaving millions to come to terms with the reality that the voice of the legendary speaker will never be heard again during the F1 live race.
Murray Walker was born with gasoline flow through his veins, as his father Graham Walker was an excellent moto racer who in 1931 won the Isle of Man tourist trophy in the light class and a regular player on the base stage.
For the young Murray, however, the tanks would give him the first taste of powerful vehicles, for shortly after coming of age he set out to fight in World War II, where he reached the rank of tank captain.
After the war, Murray Walker found his calling in advertising. At the time, his unique way with words – which would later be credited with some of the most memorable phrases in F1 history – led to the coinage of such catchy slogans as “Mars helps you work, rest and play daily” and “Trill drives parrots to bounce off wealth. “
Murray Walker – advertiser and part-time commentator
However, while advertising was his daily job, Murray Walker began commenting back in 1948, on this year’s Shelsley Walsh hill climb, before covering the 1949 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, a year before the track was hosted. the first official race of the introductory Formula 1 World Championship.
Continuing to advertise during the 1960s and 1970s, he maintained an active role as a commentator in motorsport over the weekend, entering regular radio coverage of Isle of Man tourist trophies during the 1950s with his father and leading reporting since 1962, after Graham’s death.
Murray Walker soon expanded to cover motocross, or ‘scramble’ as they were known, along with rallycross, and when the BBC began broadcasting F1 regularly, someone other than Murray Walker was brought in front of the show.
It was at this time that the legend of Murray Walker really began to grow, as his sincere enthusiasm, along with some innocent gaffes – now known as “Murrayisms” – began to attract viewers.
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Although there are too many to list here, some of the highlights include gems like, “The lead car is absolutely unique, except for the one behind it that is identical,” and “Tambay’s hopes, which were nothing before, are absolutely zero now!”
As the size of the audience that adapted grew steadily during the 1980s, Murray Walker was there to guide us through it all. Along the way, in the commentary booth, he was paired with F1 world champion James Hunt in 1978.
Their early relationship was sometimes rocky, and Walker was approaching Hunt’s beating after the latter abruptly grabbed the microphone in the middle of the comments. But the two continued a wonderful partnership until Hunt died of a heart attack in 1993.
Everyone liked it, everyone missed it
After Hunt’s death, Murray Walker was still followed in the commentary booth by revolving door drivers like Jonathan Palmer, Jackie Stewart and Alan Jones, to name a few.
But it was Martin Brundle with whom Murray Walker established his second longest commentary partnership, which lasted until Walker’s retirement after the 2001 U.S. Grand Prix. After retiring, Walker remained a well-known face in the paddock, recording occasional comments on TV and radio and remaining an unofficial sports ambassador until the end.
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Despite his enormous stature, Murray Walker was still very approachable and kind and was universally loved and respected. Fans stood in lines for hours to take his autograph, and he was one of the few media personalities who also liked drivers because he could never force himself to publicly criticize them during his comment, allowing them to be called out by his co-commentators instead. The sport will surely be poorer without Murray Walker.