David Hunt, the brother of 1976 F1 world champion James Hunt and occasional racer himself, has died at the age of 55.
Hunt strived for almost 20 years to resurrect the Lotus F1 team after its collapse in 1994, but ultimately he failed to bring the name back in to F1 under the terms which he originally wanted.
The younger brother of James Hunt, David made a fortune in the early 1990s by selling his Amway water filters and marketing company.
From 1994 onward Hunt attempted to bring Team Lotus back to F1, even coming close to acquiring the Prost team in 2000/2001 in order to get a position on the F1 grid to resurrect the Lotus name.
The Lotus name of a sort returned in 1995 as Pacific Team Lotus, but the season was a disaster with the uncompetitive PR02 driven by the likes of Andrea Montermini, Giovanni Lavaggi and Jean-Denis Deletraz.
The Lotus name did re-emerge in 2010 when Tony Fernandes and Mike Gascoyne entered F1 and based the team close to the original factory in Norfolk.
Hunt had sold the naming rights he acquired from the receivers in 1994 to the Litespeed F3 entity, which was run by Nino Singh Judge and Steve Kenchington.
The rights, bought through Hunt’s Team Lotus Ventures Ltd company were then taken on by Malaysia 1, a government backed entity headed by Tony Fernandes.
Subsequently, Hunt became embroiled in a bitter dispute over the Lotus rights with Fernandes.
It was believed that Fernandes agreed with Hunt to buy the rights to the Team Lotus but back-tracked on the terms of an agreement. The matter ended in acrimony after a long and complex court battle, which Fernandes ultimately won, but was subsequently criticised by the judge for not disclosing his purchase of the Caterham name which then went on to become the name of his F1 team in 2012.
"What angers me is that I have, in good faith, worked extremely hard on the build-up to the hearing because I believed Tony would honour our January agreement," Hunt told the Daily Telegraph newspaper at the time.
"He's apparently 'changed his mind' at the 11th hour, by his own admission, now that I've done so much work on his company's behalf, and he's trying to renegotiate by offering new terms which are, frankly, ludicrous. If he doesn't honour our agreement then regrettably I don't see why I should continue to provide assistance and this trial won't be the last battle he's facing, even if he wins."
Hunt the racer
Hunt, who was a dozen years younger than his famous brother James, started his racing career in the early 1980s.
By 1983 Hunt was competing in the British F3 series but scored only two points. He also made sporadic international appearances for David Price Racing and Eddie Jordan Racing, competing in the Macau Grand Prix in ’83, ’84 and ’86.
After mediocre seasons in F3 again in ’84 and ’86, Hunt graduated to F3000 in 1988 but endured a disastrous campaign. Driving a Roger Cowman entered Lola T88/50 Hunt failed to qualify for the first three races, but did score a seventh place in the infamous Brands Hatch race where Johnny Herbert suffered a devastating accident.
A week later at the Birmingham Superprix, Hunt hit the headlines when his car got launched over another and in to a local shop wall at Sherlock Street, punching a foot-wide hole in the brick wall and destroying the Lola. Hunt somehow emerged unscathed.
His final race was at Dijon, before he decided to call it a day on racing career and concentrate on his largely successful business ventures, which in turn led him on personal crusade to return Lotus to F1.
Hunt died suddenly in his sleep on Sunday evening.