Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president of corporate communications, died Friday at the age of 71, following a year-long battle with cancer.
He began his public relations career with Dodge in the 1960s, and served in a public relations capacity for “a number of top IndyCar drivers before going on to become the public relations director at his beloved Darlington Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway,” according to an official NASCAR release.
He joined NASCAR in 1983 as VP of administration, became president of Darlington Raceway and corporate vice president of the International Speedway Corporation in 1993, and in 2001 was tapped by NASCAR to “lead an expanded public relations effort aimed at responding to the needs of burgeoning media coverage,” the release says says.
NASCAR’s communications function recently underwent a major overhaul, which created the Integrated Marketing Communications department. At the end of the season, Hunter was expected to take the role of VP of special projects.
On the media side, Hunter served as sports editor of the Columbia Record newspaper, worked at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, was a columnist for Stock Car Racing magazine, and wrote multiple books, among them a biography of NASCAR’s David Pearson, entitled 21 Forever.