Exclusive Q&A with Tom Hunt
Few names in motorsport evoke pure racing passion as much as the legendary James Hunt. To celebrate the upcoming release of Rush, the film detailing James Hunt's titanic battle with Niki Lauda in 1976, and the release of the James Hunt Collection in the McLaren Store, we caught catch up with his son, Tom Hunt, to ask him about an exciting year ahead for his father's legacy.
Q) As James Hunt’s son does that mean you grew up as an F1 fan?
TH: "Actually no, not a hardcore fan anyway! Of course it's always interested me and I've always had a rough idea of what's going on each season but I've never been a dedicated follower, up until a couple of years ago if I happened to turn on TV and a race or qualifying was on I'd always watch it, but never planned my day around it. Naturally, though, since I've taken on this project I've become more in tune to it, the last few seasons have been fantastic."
Q) What was your reaction to learning that learning that Ron Howard wanted to make a film about the dramatic 1976 F1 season?
TH: "Ron was not the first person to approach the family about making a movie and we'd always been a bit wary of it being done in the wrong way, so when he did it was actually a bit of a relief that there was someone with his kind of track record wanting to do it. It fills me with a great deal of pride that anyone would want to make a movie about that season and as we draw closer to the film's release that feeling is growing. It's still a Hollywood film so of course there are one or two details that aren't quite right or were missed out, but from my point of view I think Ron has done a better job than anyone could have done, which is a comforting thought."
Q) Have you seen the film yet (what was it like seeing your dad played on screen?) What do you think your dad would have made of Chris Hemsworths’s performance?
TH: "Surreal. It's hard to say, we all know how unpredictable Dad could be when commenting on something. I'm sure it would have been amusing in some way though!"
Q) Was it the release of the movie that inspired you to create a James Hunt clothing range? The items have clearly been inspired by the iconic trends of the time, is there any plans to expand on the James Hunt collection?
TH: "Absolutely, there were many positives and potential negatives to doing it but the overriding factor that my brother and I couldn't ignore was that with the film coming out there would almost certainly be a number of people trying to cash in on Dad's name, and potentially damaging his image and legacy. We thought the best way to police that would be to launch the Official Collection ourselves and do our best to get it right, which would hopefully put a few of them off. Sadly, however, there are plenty of those types still out there but we'll get round to them sooner or later.
"We originally planned for a much wider launch collection but due to constraints on time and resources we limited it to these products to start with. The limited edition Vintage Team Jacket will be available exclusively on the official James Hunt website at the end of August, we've only made 300 of them so that's the next thing to look forward to. We're already developing new products to follow that too, particularly for the girls, and have some exciting plans in the pipeline for next year. We need to get Rush and Christmas out the way first though!"
Q) Who do you think admired James Hunt? What sort of people are buying the new range?
TH: "The way I see it, and this may not be the case for everyone, is that Dad was a unique character in the history of not just F1 but motorsport as a whole (with maybe the exception of the legend that is Barry Shene). So on that basis I think there are very few people interested in motorsport who don't at least have a soft spot for Dad, or a small desire to live life how he did. He wasn't to everyone's taste but I think that is something admirable in itself.
"The Racing Collection is very much aimed at his core fans who already know about him; it means a great deal to our family to know that there is now James Hunt apparel available for the fans that has been designed and produced with a lot of love, time and effort gone into it, and that the quality is right on the mark.
"Hopefully the release of Rush will broaden that fan base and introduce Dad to the younger audience who may not be familiar with him, and we hope that the Racing Collection will be of interest to at least some of them. The plan next year is to develop more fashion led clothing and products that are inspired by him, that will be appealing to those that aren't necessarily 'die hard' motorsport fans. My vision is to bring James Hunt into the modern world by creating a lasting brand that he would be proud of and allows his legacy to live on, so watch this space.
"A big thank you must go out to my uncle David, Keith Smout, Nicolas Hunziker the man behind the designs and the rest of his team at Hunziker Apparel for all their hard work on the project so far."
Q) What legacy in the world of F1 do you think your father has left?
TH: "Hopefully fond memories of being part of a golden era in the sport. Times will never be like that again which is a shame in some ways, but it's kind of nice to be able to look back at them and just know they happened, that's the way I see it."