Murray Walker 1923-2021

The voice of Formula 1 for generations passes away age 97

By Matt Bird / Saturday, March 13, 2021

For many British motorsport fans, Murray Walker's commentating voice was as much a part of the experience as the racing itself. Whether for Formula 1 or the touring cars he also covered for the BBC, nothing quite captured the spirit of four-wheeled competition like Walker's voice. Immensely knowledgeable, endlessly enthusiastic and utterly compelling in his approach, he was the perfect complement to the on-track action. It is with great sadness that his death at the age of 97 is being reported.

Having first commentated on a race in 1948, Walker's F1 job with the BBC became permanent in 1978. Over 23 years until his retirement in 2001, his indomitable, unmistakeable way of describing the action captured the hearts and minds of many in a remarkable era for the sport. Before the internet, social media and dedicated F1 TV channels, Murray Walker was the voice of Formula 1. You learnt about Grand Prix racing back then, and learnt to love it, because of his knowledge and infectious love for the sport – for that, we all owe Murray Walker a great deal.

As statement released by F1 stated, his voice "came to define Formula 1 for generations of fans", adding that he became so widely admired "not just for his passionate, excitement filled commentatries of the sport's most iconic moments, but for this humble manner." We all have our favourite Murray Walker mishaps, those slight mistakes styled out in a way that only served to make him more likeable.

Tributes have, of course, been flooding in. "A man who brought F1 to life, what a sad day for racing. RIP Murray Walker" tweeted Alex Albon; "We are truly saddened to hear of Murray Walker's passing" added Williams Racing. Damon Hill, whose 1996 championship win famously brought Walker close to tears, said "the Legend will never die."

Murray Walker was appointed an OBE in 1996 for his services to broadcasting and motor racing, and is survived by his wife Elizabeth. Our thoughts and condolences go to his friends and family.

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