NASCAR executive Jim Hunter was remembered on Wednesday at a memorial serivce at the Darlington Presbyterian Church. Hunter died last Friday after a year-long bout with cancer at the age of 71.
Hundreds turned out for the memorial serivce, including current NASCAR drivers Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick and Juan Pablo Montoya. Johnson said, "He was a man who had seen every generation, every hot shoe driver, every big time car owner, every flash in the pan. You name it, he'd seen it all, from Bill France, Sr. on through. His street smarts and experience led NASCAR in a great way. He's gonna be sorely missed."
NASCAR President Mike Helton says Hunter had a hand in most major decisions of the sport. But Helton was most impressed by Hunter's work as Track President at Darlington Raceway from 1993-2001, "I've never seen a community and a track and an individual mesh as well as Jim Hunter did with this area and this race track."
Hunter began his career as sports editor for the Columbia Record and later as a writer at the Atlanta Journal Constitution. He wrote several books including a biography of NASCAR legend David Pearson who was also at the memorial serivce. In his most recent position as NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Communications, Hunter helped shape the sport's current image.
Former President and General Manager of Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, Humpy Wheeler, played football for the South Carolina Gamecocks with Hunter. Wheeler remembers Hunter as a master organizer of everything related to NASCAR, "He was a great promoter. And that's what we need right now. We need about ten Jim Hunters. If we had ten Jim Hunters, we'd be filling these grandstands up."