I heard the news that Jim Hunter, a vice president for NASCAR’s corporate
communications died, I was quite saddened.
that Jim had been quite ill battling cancer and finally, like many, he too
lost the fight. Besides his family and many thousands of friends, he will be
missed by all in motorsports. He will certainly be missed on the NASCAR
was a major player in NASCAR, he related to the plight of the short tracks
and the touring series. He understood the dedication of the teams that
participate in the Whelen All American weekly series as well as those who
follow a touring series.
I got to
meet and then know Jim during the mid 80’s and unlike many at NASCAR who
think they know all the answers to the problems of the promoters and race
teams, Jim would often seek out those who followed a series to pick their
quite honored when Jim would search me out at a track and ask what I thought
could be done to help the modified tour. You see, Jim was quite passionate
about the modified tour too.
At a race
in Martinsville, Va., we sat for over an hour and hashed back ideas of ways
to improve the modified tour, its car owners and drivers.
of my passion for the modified tour and he never made me feel like any of my
suggestions were ridicules or outrageous.
heard that I was going to stop covering the modified tour because of lack of
funds, Jim went out and found me a sponsor to help cover my racing related
Hampshire Speedway, when NASCAR unveiled NASCAR’s top ten modified drivers
of all time, he came over to me at the end of the announcement and asked
what I thought. He said many times privately, “that NASCAR had always under
delivered and over promised to the modified tour.” And while this was
something small, it was what he hoped would continue to show that the
modifieds and its people WERE important to NASCAR.
quite a man to acknowledge that even though he personally couldn’t do
anything to change the perception of NASCAR not caring about the modified
tour, that he felt concerned about the feelings of the modified people.
just as easy addressing the drivers on the modified tour or talking with the
stars of the Sprint Cup series because to him they were all just race car
was an accomplished baseball and football player at the University of South
Carolina. He was a sports writer and then went to work at Darlington
Speedway and Talladega Speedway working in the public relations departments.
was summoned to Daytona to work and accepted a position as NASCAR vice
president of administration and later became the man that NASCAR turned to
when there were ‘fires’ that needed to be put out and Jim, in his slow
southern drawl could ease the anger in whatever the situation was that
needed to be cooled down. Something that current NASCAR employees don’t seem
how to do or care to do.
Jim was a
friend to many and always had the time AND took the time to listen to your
complaints, suggestions or remarks.
I would write a column criticizing NASCAR for something, which I many times
did, never once did he pull rank or ask what gave me the right. He knew the
passion I had to only improve and help the modified tour grow.
told him that following the 2007 season that I wasn’t going to be following
the modified tour anymore and just planned on attending a couple of races
per year in the future, he put his arm on my shoulder and thanked me for my
dedication to the modified tour and my 30 years of covering not only the
modified tour but weekly racing.
what made Jim Hunter a special person. And although we never saw eye to eye
on everything NASCAR did or was going to do with the modified tour, he
respected your thoughts and concerns for the series.
lost a giant. Sadly, it too bad that many who work in NASCAR today doesn’t
have his passion for the sport or his way to deal with people.
I will always
remember Jim as someone I could talk to and ask advice of and for that
I owe him a debt of gratitude and respect.
Rest in peace, Jim.