Saturday, 18 January 2014

JAMES HUNT AND ME......
Just watched an amazing film, Rush about the 1976 Formula One season and the rivalry between drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda climaxing with Hunt becoming world champion in 1976. Hunt was brilliantly portrayed by Chris Hemsworth and Lauda by Daniel Brühl directed by Ron Howard .
I remembered James for his aggressive tail-happy driving style, but one prone to spectacular accidents, hence his nickname of Hunt The Shunt. Hunt's lifestyle was as controversial as some of the events on track: he was associated with a succession of beautiful women; he preferred to turn up to formal functions in bare feet and jeans; he liked a drink, and also used cocaine and marijuana; and he lived an informal life near the beach in Marbella and this is where I first met James. I had decided in the early 80’s I needed a life changing redirection and after years of owning discotheques is my birth town Dublin I decided to take up an offer to take over Hunts club Oscars in Marbella. James like most hugely successful sports stars at the time who opened disco, bars, restaurant and boutique, George Best was a prime example, after a while simply got board and that’s how I came to acquire Oscars. During the that time I spent time with Hunt a fond memory was the day I spent on his yacht and ended up water skiing behind a boat that was simply just to big and to powerful to sky behind, but because James did it I did it (my muscles ached for a month!!).
Oscars (named after James beloved Alsatian dog) was a standalone building just 10 minutes from Puerto Banus it was formally a Japanese restaurant (I’m led to believe) hence the stunning gardens. I believe the inauguration of the club was a spectacular with the a who’s who of Marbella’s VIP guest list including James Bond Sean Connery, Rod Stewart among the glitterati (see photo of James on that opening night with Princess Gunilla Von Bismarck and the late Dai Llewellyn) I took over Oscars in ’83 but it wasn’t the success I was hoping for. In 1983 Disco Bars started to become fashionable notably Joes in Puerto Banus so rather than the punters leaving the port to make their way to the cubs they stayed drinking and dancing in the bars. So it was down to simply bad timing on my side. Thankfully my next club Cuba was a much bigger success but that’s another story.
Sadly James died in 1993 at the age of 45, of a heart attack at his home in Wimbledon, only hours after proposing marriage to his then partner Helen. Two days previously, Hunt cycled from his home to Television Centre to commentate on the 1993 Canadian Grand Prix.
Hunt's helmet featured his name in bold letters along with blue, yellow and red stripes on both sides and room for the sponsor Goodyear, all placed onto a black background. Additionally, the blue, yellow and red bands resemble his Wellington College school colours. During his comeback year to Formula One in 2012, 2007 World Champion Kimi Räikkönen sported a James Hunt painted helmet during the Monaco Grand Prix. Räikkönen repeated the tribute at the 2013 Monaco Grand Prix.

2 comments:

  1. What great memories you have, Ever thought of writing a book?

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  2. Many fond memories of that era. Delivered a 160 foot yacht to Banus in 1980, The Yanbu.

    Spent lots of time at Salduba, Sinatra, The Marbella Club, and of course Oscar´s.

    Purchased a home there later. Recalled seeing Niki Lauda passing our yacht, and bumped into Sean Connery on the tennis courts.

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