Neither F1 nor the Isle of Man TT will be the same.
British broadcasting legend Graeme Murray Walker died on March 13, 2021, at the age of 97. For seven decades, Murray Walker was The Voice of so many motorsports. He was, of course, best known for his inimitable Formula One commentaries. The sheer delight of experiencing F1 races with him in your ears was truly like nothing else.
Murray Walker was born in Birmingham, England on October 10, 1923. The late, great Guardian sports columnist Frank Keating wrote perhaps the greatest one-line descriptor of Walker in an obituary that he, himself penned before his own passing in 2013. Of Walker’s beginnings, Keating wrote, “The infant was gulping exhaust fumes from the first.” Truer words have rarely been written.
Although Walker was best known and loved in the U.K.—and even became an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) in 1996 for services to motorsport—fans throughout the world came to know his unmistakable voice through the years. Even F1 racing video game developers got Walker on board to lend his voice to their efforts—so inextricably interwoven was his presence in the sport. His particular turns of phrase, which came to be known as “Murrayisms,” only endeared him more to his worldwide fanbase throughout his lifetime.
In addition to his massive F1 presence, Walker also offered commentary for over 200 Isle of Man TT races over the years. He also lent his keen insights and commentaries to many more senior Manx motorcycle road race events, and motocross, as well as plenty of other racing types that didn’t involve four wheels.
We’ve discussed the fact that Walker was a lifelong motorcycle rider and enthusiast here before. However, it certainly doesn’t hurt when your own dad is an avid motorcycle road racer. Graham Walker regularly competed in the Isle of Man TT from 1920 to 1935, and then went on to become the BBC’s first-ever motorcycle racing commentator—back when it was a radio-only gig.
Graham Walker raced works Sunbeams, Nortons, and Rudges in road race series all over Europe throughout his career. It was under Graham’s tutelage that young Murray grew to love motorcycles, motorsport, and commentary work, too. Murray did also have a comparatively brief turn in advertising work, but once he went full force into the motorsports commentary realm, he never looked back.
Put simply, if you love motorsports commentary, that world was forever shaped, in ways both large and small, by Murray Walker’s contributions. His legacy will continue to be felt in the years to come.
Murray Walker is survived by his wife of 60 years, Elizabeth. Our thoughts and best wishes are with all the family, friends, and fans who loved Murray Walker—because there will never be another quite like him.