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NOTICE OF DEATH - REG HUNT (1923 - 2022)

We regret to have to report the death of one of the BRDC’s oldest and longest-serving Members, Reg Hunt, who passed away yesterday in Melbourne, Australia at the age of 99 from the effects of COVID-19.

Originally from Manchester, Reg’s competition career should have begun at the age of 16 in 1939 racing a motor-cycle in the Isle of Man but, as he used to say, ‘Hitler put paid to that’ and he had to wait until peacetime returned to resume his motor sport ambitions. That he would compete was never really in doubt from an early age for Reg’s family ran a car and motor-cycle business and his mother and grandfather had both raced motor-cycles at Brooklands and elsewhere. In the immediate aftermath of World War 2 opportunities to compete were somewhat haphazard and Reg chose to follow the trials (aka mud-plugging) route both on two wheels and four with considerable success.

In 1949 Reg emigrated to Australia, taking with him various major components such as a JAP engine, Morgan suspension and Norton gearbox with which to construct his own 500 cc Formula 3-type single-seater which came to be known as The Flying Bedstead and with which he scored a good number of victories. To stay ahead of the opposition Reg worked with legendary engine designer Phil Irving to instal a supercharged Vincent Black Lightning engine and continued his winning ways. By 1953 The Flying Bedstead had lost its edge over the opposition and Reg replaced it with something completely different - an Allard J2 – with which he also enjoyed success in both hillclimbs and circuit races.

All the while since arriving in Australia Reg had been building up a flourishing motor dealership to the extent that he felt able to take a year away and go racing in Europe. He purchased a new Cooper-Norton Mk VIII and joined the international Formula 3 circus racing against such luminaries as Stirling Moss, for whom 1954 was his last season in Formula 3 whilst also racing his Maserati 250F in Grands Prix, Stuart Lewis-Evans and Graham Hill. There were race wins at Brands Hatch twice and at the Orleans street circuit in France where he also set the Formula 3 lap record.

At the end of the season Reg headed for Modena and came away from the Maserati works with the Formula 1 A6GCM with which Juan Manuel Fangio had won the 1953 Italian Grand Prix in 2-litre, F2 guise and which had spent most of the 1954 season in the hands of Franco-American Harry Schell. The car had its first race in Reg’s hands in the 1955 New Zealand Grand Prix, running well in third place behind Siamese Prince Birabongse, for whom the race brought the curtain down on a long and illustrious career, and Peter Whitehead’s Ferrari 625/770 before the drum brakes started to fade badly and Reg dropped back to finish fifth. Later Reg was leading the Australian Grand Prix at Port Wakefield by a handsome margin only to suffer a broken cam follower which left the engine firing on five cylinders, and he dropped back to be passed by Jack Brabham’s Manx-tailed Cooper-Bristol just before the finish. There were other strong results which established Reg as one of the very best of Australian drivers alongside his great rival Stan Jones, father of future F1 World Champion Alan.

At the end of 1955 Reg sold the Maserati A6GCM and took another trip to Europe, specifically to Modena naturally, where he acquired the 250F 2516 which had been Jean Behra’s works car through the season, winning the Pau and Bordeaux Grands Prix. In Reg’s hands the 250F continued to win races including the Bathurst 100, at Albert Park, Melbourne and at Fisherman’s Bend to secure the South Pacific Championship. Although Stan Jones had been doing great things with the Lycoming-engined Maybach Special, he had come to realise that the only way to beat Reg was to join him with his own 250F #2520. To coincide with the Olympic Games in Melbourne, the Australian Grand Prix organisers pushed the boat out and attracted the works Maserati team to Albert Park, using a rather different circuit from the current version. Stirling Moss and Jean Behra finished first and second with another overseas visitor, Peter Whitehead, taking third place in his 3.4-litre Ferrari Super Squalo. However, local interest focused on the battle for fourth place between Reg and Stan in their 250Fs. For lap after lap of the 2 ½ hour race the two intense rivals circulated in close company with Stan more often in front until he was delayed by a fractured oil breather pipe and Reg took the honours.

Although he had an entry for the New Zealand Grand Prix the following month, Reg decided to hang up his helmet and concentrate on his ever-growing motor dealerships which he did to such good effect that he became the largest Holden distributor in Australia. However, his passion for classic cars never left him and over the years he built up a collection estimated at some 200 cars and motor-cycles. In 1976, after moving to Monaco, he acquired the ex-Franco Bordoni Maserati 300S which he owned for 24 years, rather longer than either of the F1 Maseratis. The glorious 300S tempted Reg back behind the wheel to compete in historic events.

Apart from 1954 when he raced in 500 cc Formula 3 in the UK and Europe, Reg never raced outside Australasia but his record on home turf suggests that, had he done so, he would have been one of the better privateer Formula 1 drivers of the 1950s. As the years went by, he never lost touch with the BRDC and continued to wear the badge very regularly. Reg is survived by his wife Julia Wood, his son Graham and daughter Cheryl, grandchildren, and great grandchildren to whom the BRDC offers its deepest condolences.

The Club regrets to report on the death of Neville Hay, who was elected as a BRDC Member in 1993
The Club regrets to report on the death of Alan Minshaw, who was elected as a BRDC Member in 1984
The Club regrets to report on the death of Ray Thackwell who was elected as a BRDC Member in 1957
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