Murray Walker must be the most famous person associated with Formula 1 who is not one of the drivers.
Bernie Ecclestone may have all the money and power – but even he lacks the public profile of the national institution that is Murray Walker.
After laying down his microphone for the final time at the United States Grand Prix in 2001, Walker picked up a pen to write his memoirs. They span beyond the 53 years of Grand Prix racing he witnessed from 1949 until his retirement, are an obvious choice of reading material for F1 fans.
Simply put, Murray Walker’s autobiography is an awful lot like Murray Walker’s commentary. Not in that it’s plagued with endearing little mistakes (it isn’t) but in its historical depth and uncontroversial approach.
What made Walker’s commentary so distinctive was his unbridled, unrestrained enthusiasm – even when faced with a turgid snooze-fest of a race.
But if any criticism could be levelled at the beloved Walker it’s that he often reigned himself in from judging the actions of racing drivers. He explains this as simply being because, not being a racing driver himself, he didn’t feel it was his place to, which is fair enough.
For all that the book is sugar-coated, Murray is not without his controversies.
He is a staunch defender of Michael Schumacher, for example, which sits at odds with the view a large number of British fans have of the controversial champion.
What I wanted to find in “Unless I’m very much mistaken””, which sadly wasn’t there, was a sense of how the increased media coverage of Formula 1, which Walker experienced first-hand, changed the sport.
Fundamental to this is the issue of safety and the ability of a modern audience to comprehend the explicit danger of motor sport when confronted by it. He touches upon this in the section on Ayrton Senna, but all too briefly.
Of course, none of that should put you off it. It’s an immensely interesting and highly enjoyable book.
And it’s not as if Walker hasn’t already given us a million memorable moments.
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