This week, we've spent a fair amount of time discussing Tim Richmond, the live-life-to-the-fullest driver who briefly dominated NASCAR in the mid-1980s. As if life were a convenient morality play designed to scare teenagers, Richmond died of AIDS, almost certainly as a direct result of his lifestyle.
Coincidentally enough, this month also saw the publication of a biography of James Hunt, Formula 1's own version of Richmond. (Though since Hunt raged on the scene a decade before Richmond, the reverse is a more accurate statement.) Shunt: The Story of James Hunt takes us into the life of one of F1's most outrageous drivers, and as Jalopnik notes, the dude could turn heads both in the bedroom and on the track. Take, for instance, this account of Hunt's days before the 1976 Japanese Grand Prix, in which Hunt was dueling with Niki Lauda for the year's championship:
His preparations were unconventional, to say the least. He had spent the two weeks leading up to the race on a round-the-clock alcohol, cannabis and cocaine binge with his friend Barry Sheene, who was world motorcycle champion that year ...
In Japan, his playground of choice was the Tokyo Hilton, where every morning British Airways stewardesses were dropped off at reception for a 24-hour stopover.
Hunt unfailingly met them as they checked in and invited them to his suite for a party - they always said yes.
It wasn't unusual for him and Sheene to have sex with all of the women, often together ...
When Hunt arrived back at Heathrow airport, 2,000 fans were waiting to greet him. He staggered down the steps of the aircraft, drunk, into the arms of his mother Sue and his beautiful, long-suffering girlfriend Jane Birbeck.
She had been seeing Hunt for nearly a year, but had no idea he'd bedded 33 British Airways hostesses and countless young Japanese fans during his two-week stay in Tokyo.
And hey, guess what? Hunt eventually won the championship in 1976! (There were, of course, extenuating circumstances, like Lauda's horrific Nürburgring wreck.) Note that the stewardess/alcohol/other substances regimen will most likely not work for everyone. Also note that Hunt died in 1993 of a heart attack at the unexpectedly young age of 46.
So what have we learned? That both NASCAR and F1 are far less character-driven today than in past decades. And for the sake of their drivers' lives, perhaps that's a good thing.
[Hat tip: Jalopnik]