The Formula One presenter, commentator and journalist Murray Walker has died aged ninety-seven. He will be regarded as the benchmark for every F1 commentator. He worked in motorsports for over seventy years lending his voice to not only F1, but all different kinds of motorsports.
He also served as a tank commander during the Second World War before going into the advertisement industry and working for the BBC covering motorsport since 1947. He covered F1 for the broadcaster full time from 1978 until 1996 when it lost the rights to ITV, he continued full time until 2001, then doing odd bits as a relief commentator.
Walker’s style of commentary made him a household name not only in the UK but across the English-speaking world. Making him one of the most respected journalists and broadcasters around the world, writing for magazines and books about F1 and motorsport.
His commentary career began after the war, where he served as a Sergeant Major. He went on to the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, and was commissioned into the Royal Scots Greys. After the war, he went on to become a successful adviser, living a dual career until 1978.
His first commentary for the BBC was in 1948, then mainly covering motorcycle racing and motocross almost every weekend while having a full-time job. He continued his role as F1 commentator until September 2001 semi-retiring from the job at Indianapolis. He received a BAFTA Special Award for Contribution to Television in 2002.
Walker will continue to be regarded as the fans and driver’s commentator after being the voice of the sport for over half a century. He didn’t call himself a presenter, commentator or a journalist, he regarded himself as an entertainer. In his commentary, his passion, excitement and often said his voice was like a car with the way it grew louder as it got more dramatic.
He continued to watch every second of track action he said in 2017.
A statement from the BRDC said “It is with great sadness we share the news of the passing of BRDC Associate member Murray Walker OBE. A friend, a true motorsport legend, the nation’s favourite commentator and a contagious smile.”
F1 added. “immensely sad to hear that Murray Walker has passed away. 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.”
His father according to Walker would have been Moto GP champion if there were a world championship before the war. Walker was well respected by everyone with him being well regarded by drivers, fan teams and being the benchmark for every member of the media.
He became famous for his Murrayisum most commonly “Unless I am very much mistaken” often followed by “I AM very much mistaken!” And “go, go, go”. A rare voice in a world of sport, he never truly retired continued to contribute to written and broadcast media until declining health and cancer saw him withdraw from coverage of the 2016 British Grand Prix.
“I don’t make mistakes. I make prophecies which immediately turn out to be wrong.”
He was married and had no children living in Hampshire with his wife.
He had a relationship with the Hill family and commentated on both Gramme and Damon becoming world champion.
Walker continued working after retirement in 2001 writing for Autosport before returning on ad-hoc basis to the BBC in 2009, Sky and more recently Channel 4. His last commentary was with David Coulthard and Ben Edwards at the 2013 British Grand Prix.
His death is not only huge loss to the sport but also to the industry of sports Journalism, one of the sports non-driver biggest names.