Through The Esses - James Hunt - The Name You Will Come To Know Again
Page: 1 Links
© Andrew S. Hartwell

He has a famous name, and he possesses all the ambition needed to put that name back on the lips of racing fans. But this isn't the same person that we are talking about. That is, his name is James Hunt but he isn't THE James Hunt.

"I get that all the time", said James Hunt, a 25 year old man with an eye on getting his famous name to appear on the entry lists of top level sportscar racing events. "The famous James Hunt did have a great name in motorsports", Hunt continued, "and he also had quite a reputation as a partier. I've tried to emulate his driving skill but not his playboy habits!"

For those too young to remember the first James Hunt, he was the 1976 Formula One Champion with McLaren. He started in F1- and raced for several seasons - with Lord Hesketh's team, an effort that presented itself with great emphasis placed on having fun. Hunt later went on to become a racing commentator. He passed away in 1993 after a heart attack, leaving behind a legacy of good cheer and playfulness that endeared him to many a racing fan.

The James Hunt we caught up with recently seems determined to make his own mark in the world of sportscar racing. He is currently driving for APR Motorsports in the KONI Challenge Series. His first professional race came at the opening round of the 2008 KONI season at Daytona where he co-drive a Chevy Cobalt to a 22nd place finish despite a faulty clutch.

Unlike many young future stars of racing today, Hunt did not spend his formative years pedaling a kart. He spent it pedaling a bike downhill at breakneck speeds. But it would be in a unique situation that found him driving a shifter kart that Hunt would come to the attention of the people behind the SPEED channel. That recognition put him on the path to a career in racing.

We began our conversation with the next James Hunt by asking about his family and his roots in racing.

"I have two older brothers and a little sister. We span from 39 down to 12, with me somewhere in the middle at age 25. My dad had a 1947 MGTC that he ran in vintage races for fun. I grew up watching him run that, and my brother, Will Fox, used to run a Datsun 510 in SCCA. I was always the little guy running around in the paddock watching it all happen. I used to think it was all so cool.

"At 14, I started racing downhill mountain bikes on the national circuit with the National Off Road Biking Association (NORBA). Riders would take a ski lift to the top of a mountain with our bikes hanging off the back of the chair lift. Then we would go hammering down some of the most treacherous terrain you can imagine. Picture rock gardens with massive boulders and five foot drops while traveling at speeds of 50 - 60 miles per hour. From top to bottom the run could take upwards of 4 minutes. We went down the mountain in intervals, just as they do in rally racing. It was very fast, exciting and at times brutally painful if you crashed.

"I was the '14 and under' National Champion, and the '16 and under' National Champion in NORBA. When I turned 16 I got my driver's license and I soon learned cars were much faster than bikes!

"Of course, I quickly hit the stone wall so many of us who want to go racing will hit. Racing cars is exponentially more expensive than racing bicycles. I started saving every penny because I don't have wealthy parents who can write a check for $150,000 to $200,000 so their son can go racing. I'm doing it all on my own as a one man army. I do my own PR, sales, marketing, everything I need to do to forge a career in racing. To help with all this I started my own company, James Hunt Racing, LLC."

The road to success in racing is often replete with detours and obstacles, and you can never take the trip completely alone. Some form of support is always needed. The lucky ones have the money to pave their way. But the best ones tend to be those with someone squarely in their corner helping them learn how to<