Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president of corporate
communications, smiles during a
2007 news conference at Richmond.
(Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
FORMER DARLINGTON RACEWAY
PRESIDENT JIM HUNTER PASSES AWAY
Jim Hunter was larger than life in the town of Darlington, South Carolina as well as across the entire state. Hunter played football for his beloved University of South Carolina Gamecocks prior to embarking on a career in motorsports that would make him one of the most knowledgeable and trusted executives in NASCAR.
Hunter began his career in NASCAR racing as the public relations director at Darlington Raceway in the late 1960s before moving to the Atlanta Journal Constitution as a sports reporter in 1970. Hunter returned to his race promoter roots in 1975 when he was named public relations director at Talladega Superspeedway. Following a stint as a NASCAR executive in the 1980s, Hunterreturned to his home state track and served as president from 1993-2001, before returning to NASCAR as vice president of corporate communications.
During his eight year tenure as Darlington Raceway president Hunter helped resurrect the storied South Carolina track from an almost certain demise to one of NASCAR’s most prestigious facilities. Hunter oversaw many renovations at the track including the construction of the Pearson and Tyler towers as well as a track reconfiguration in 1997.
Hunter’s relationships were vast and legendary in the sport he helped build and loved so deeply. He was a well-known face at racetracks – large and small – across the country. From small weekly media outlets to USA Today, track officials at every level to Bill France, Sr. – it seemed Hunter knew everyone.
“Jim Hunter was one of the most charismatic people in NASCAR,” said current Darlington Raceway president Chris Browning. “I always enjoyed seeing Hunter at the track and particularly enjoyed his participation in our 2009 historic racing festival. It was great seeing Jim joke and swap old stories with some of the true pioneers of NASCAR. Everyone at Darlington Raceway will certainly miss Jim’s smile, stories and laugh. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this difficult time.”
Former South Carolina governor and Darlington native David Beasley worked extensively with Hunter during his tenure as president of the track. Beasley remembers Hunter as a community leader and inspiration.
“Jim Hunter is going to be missed,” said Beasley. “I don’t know of anyone who loved God, his family, NASCAR, his hometown Darlington, his state and country more. He taught me you only go around the track of life once, so give it your best.”
In lieu of flowers the family asked that donations be made to The NASCAR Foundation or Hospice of Volusia/Flagler County. Funeral arrangements will be announced later.