Updated 19:39 March 13. Walker, known affectionately to all fans simply as “Murray”, began his commentating career at the Shelsley Walsh Hillclimb in 1948, which prompted the BBC to offer him a trial at the 1949 Goodwood Easter meeting. This led Walker commentating on the 1949 British Grand Prix, an association with Formula 1 which was to last until his retirement in 2001. From 1949 Walker and his father, Graham, were a regular pairing for the BBC commentating on the Isle of Man TT until Walker senior's death in 1962.
But it wasn’t until 1978 that he would become the BBC’s regular F1 correspondent. Before he moved into full-time F1 commentary, Walker had worked on a wide range of sports – including wresting, scrambling (motocross) and rallycross. He also had a successful career in advertising, working for companies including Dunlop, British Rail, Mars and Vauxhall, a career he continued until he was 59, when he had already become a famous commentator.
Walker also tried his hand at motorcycle racing in his younger days, competing against a young John Surtees, before switching to Trials where he found success, including winning first class at the Scottish Six Days Trial.
But commentary was where his future really lay, and he would go full-time in the 1978 season, aged 54. He would be the voice of F1 not only in Britain, but in many territories around the world, for the next 23 years, working for the BBC until coverage moved to ITV in 1997.
In the 1980 season he was joined in the commentary box by 1976 F1 champion James Hunt. While an unlikely pair, who famously struggled to see eye-to-eye to begin with, the two struck up a popular double act, continuing to work together until Hunt died in 1993. Murray would continue commentating with Jonathan Palmer at the BBC and then Martin Brundle at ITV before hanging up his full-time microphone in 2001.
Although mostly known for his F1 commentary, some of Walker’s finest commentating moments came away from the Grand Prix scene, including for the BTCC in the early 1990s. He was also the lead presenter and commentator at the first Goodwood Revival, alongside Simon Taylor, in 1998, and was a regular visitor to Goodwood, for both the Revival and Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard. His final Goodwood commentary came at the 2012 Settrington Cup.
While Murray never returned to regular commentary after his retirement in 2001, he would take up the microphone on occasion, including stepping in for David Croft on Five Live at the European Grand Prix in 2007. He continued to conduct interviews for Five Live and then Sky Sports and Channel 4 until very close to his death, even returning after both a broken pelvis in 2013, and cancer treatment the same year.
A statement from the BRDC annoucning his death said: “It is with great sadness we share the news of the passing of BRDC Associate member Murray Walker OBE.
“A friend, a true motorsport legend, the nation’s favourite commentator and a contagious smile. Murray will be sadly missed, his mark and voice will live on in motorsport and our hearts forever.
“We thank Murray for all he has done for our community. Sending our love and thoughts to Murray’s family and friends in this difficult time. RIP our friend.”