NASCAR VP Hunter dies

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 2:17 PM ET

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Jim Hunter, NASCAR's Vice President of Corporate Communications, died Friday night in Daytona Beach following a year-long battle with cancer. He was 71.

Hunter's career in motorsports spanned portions of six decades as a journalist, racetrack executive and a public relations official for NASCAR.

"Jim Hunter was one of NASCAR's giants," NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian France said in a news release. "For more than 40 years, Jim was part of NASCAR and its history. He loved the sport, but loved the people even more.

"It seems as if everyone in the sport called him a friend. Jim will forever be missed by the NASCAR community. Our sympathies go out to his entire family."

Hunter served as a sports editor of the Columbia (SC) Record newspaper and then a writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution before he became a columnist for Stock Car Racing magazine.

His career shifted to the public relations side in the 1960s, beginning with Dodge's motorsports operation. He handled publicity for a number of IndyCar drivers before he served as public relations director at Darlington Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway.

Hunter's began his first executive position with NASCAR in 1983 when he was named as the sanctioning body's vice president of administration. Ten years later, he was named president of Darlington and corporate vice president of International Speedway Corporation.

He remained at Darlington until 2001, when he accepted an offer from then- NASCAR Chairman and CEO Bill France Jr. to lead an expanded public relations effort in response to increased media coverage of the sport nationwide.

Hunter won numerous awards during his career, including the National Motorsports Press Association's Joe Littlejohn Award in 2005 and the Buddy Shuman Award in 2006.

"Jim was a uniquely talented man that cannot be replaced," NASCAR President Mike Helton said. "He was a great friend and mentor to so many in the sport. His influence will remain with and be carried on by so many of the people he touched. This is a sad day for Jim's family and his extended, NASCAR family."

Hunter is survived by his wife of 48 years, Ann Hunter; his children, Scott Hunter and Amy McKernan and his grandchildren Dakota Hunter, and Hunter and Luke McKernan.


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