Top 10 Cavalier Characters In Motoring History

Are you prepared for what could be the greatest, most in-depth exploration into history’s most cavalier motoring characters? You may just see something you’ve never seen before (that’s the aim anyway!).

I’ve considered the most famous stories, shocking facts and headlines behind some of the greatest names in motorsport, from iconic characters such as James Hunt, Kimi Räikkönen, Sir Stirling Moss and many more. I will be focusing not on their achievements or racing, but their life off the track and away from the media, which has always controversial in motorsport – especially Formula 1.

Cavalier = Showing arrogant or offhand disregard, dismissive towards acceptable behaviours. 

James Hunt
1973-1979 ENG

James Hunt was nicknamed “Hunt the Shunt”, for his aggressive attitude and ludicrous behaviour off the track. The British born driver was well known for his speed when racing, but most people will know him for other reasons. While racing between 1973-1979, he became quite a hit with the ladies, he was the playboy of the 70s.

James Hunt with Glamour Model Susan Shaw

James Hunt with Glamour Model Susan Shaw

Our favourite story, for which there are many, is a headline story containing 33 British Airways stewardesses, a cannabis and cocaine binge and a Championship title winning race. If you can piece that together, you get a pretty unconventional preparation before a Formula 1 Championship race. Not being known for behaving appropriately (quite the opposite actually), for what was the biggest race of his career, he endured a drug filled, round the clock sex and alcohol marathon, two weeks prior the race. This story in my opinion is one of the most shocking, but also one of the greatest (as a bloke writing this).

James Hunt slept with 33 British Airways Stewardesses

The Japanese Grand Prix, James Hunt explored the nation, and yet the women too. 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. Every man’s dream? Hunt would consistently invite the stewardesses up to his room as they arrived, and guess what, most said yes. Not much a hunt for Hunt, but an offer.

Moving on from this, young car designer (Martin Head) who walked into the pit garage at the wrong time tops everything off. He recalls walking in a pit garage, only to see James with his overalls around his ankles, cavorting with a Japanese girl. Hunt laughed it off, walked out, vomited (normal routine for James), only to drive the race of his life to win the 1976 Formula 1 World Championship. After controversy and some trips to the doctor, it was finally said that Hunt slept with at least 33 BA stewardesses while in Japan, not including any other Japanese girls. In my opinion, James Hunt was one of the biggest influences on modern motorsport, his style, charisma and attitude have all developed into what we accept as the norm today. The original Playboy.

Kimi Raikkonen
2001-Present FIN
Kimi Raikkonen has always been my favourite F1 driver of my era. His attitudes towards acceptable behaviour and etiquette have made Kimi today’s James Hunt. His ludicrous acts that are far from the norm of F1 have been published in headline newspapers for years. Nicknamed the Iceman for his hardcore personality, he’s a real party lad whose behaviour is uncanny.

Kimi Raikkonen Party Animal

Kimi Raikkonen Party Animal

In 2005, Kimi hit the headlines by performing a drunken strip show at a lap-dancing club in London. In March of 2007, while fellow drivers were preparing for the season opener, Kimi was participating in a snowmobile race in Finland. Sounds awesome buts completely unorthadox!

There’s a clip in the video where Kimi famously argues with his Lotus Technician after he is ordering some normal procedures, Kimi replies “Yes, yes, yes, I’m doing all that. You don’t have to remind me every second.” When further instructions arrived: “Leave me alone. I know what I’m doing.” Made me laugh watching it, true cavalier character.

Sir Stirling Moss
1951-1961 ENG
Stirling Moss is in my opinion, and most probably every Formula 1 fan, is the greatest F1 driver never to win a World Championship. His skills and natural ability to drive anything on four wheels is incredible.

Away from the track, he felt the media only displayed interest when he was pulling girls or paying for prostitutes. He quotes “If I dated a beautiful girl it made the front page of the newspapers, if I won a race it got buried in the middle somewhere.”

Duncan Hamilton
1951-1953 ENG

duncan hamilton cavalier character formula oneDuncan Hamilton found out he was out of the race so drank himself silly through the night. Next morning he was told he was no longer disqualified, drove the whole race drunk stupid. And they kept topping him up with brandy as coffee was making him twitchy. (it was 1953 and drink driving hadn’t been invented so it was OK).

Murray Walker 
1948-2001 ENG
Though the legend Murray Walker never raced in Formula 1, his contribution to the sport has been priceless. He’s commentated and witnessed most of our cavalier characters at some point in his career. For this reason, I believe a little bit of every driver lives on within him.

murray walker

Murray Walker

Mike Hawthorn
1952-1958 ENG

Britain’s first World Champion, Mike Hawthorn, was the image of a perfect English gentleman. He was a man who wore a bow tie with pride to every race, which in turn, earned him the nickname “Papillon” (Butterfly) from French competitors.

He regularly played pranks on strangers, that what his thing. His favourite game afters a night’s drinking in his local pub was to try and knock cyclists off their bikes with a plank of wood. Stirling Moss encountered a tale of standing under a tree near a pub where they were staying and thinking it had started to rain, only to find Hawthorn perched on a branch above him relieving himself. What a joker! Made me laugh, I can just vision this.

Flavio Briatore

Flavio Briatore could be considered a cavalier character of motorsport, after he was banned for life by the FIA as a result of the Crashgate scandal.

In his private life Briatore has romanced a string of beautiful women and eventually accepted paternity of supermodel Heidi Klum’s daughter. His wealthy lifestyle means he endures nothing more than a sunbathe on his yacht, while being caressed by 28-year-old Wonderbra model Elisabetta Gregoraci. A true cavalier character won’t you agree?

Flavio Briatore with wonderbra model elisabetta gregoraci on his yacht

Flavio Briatore

Mike Hailwood
1963-1974 ENG

James Hunt was said to have learnt all he knew about becoming a playboy from Mike Hailwood, who also loved to enjoy parties, alcohol and beautiful women. Hailwood once arrived at Brand Hatch, still drunk from the party before. His excuse? He and his companions couldn’t remember where he had parked his car.

He was a big fan of emptying the contents of hotel rooms out of their windows in rock-star fashion. His innocent face often landed the blame for his antics on his companions heads.

Flavio Briatore with wonderbra model elisabetta gregoraci on his yacht

Eddie Irvine
1993-2003 ENG
Outspoken Irishman Irvine was the Hunt of his era, although he did save the partying till after the race. He surrounded himself with the ultimate playboy toys, and the women flocked to him. He was also a godsend to any journalist after a comment. In 1996 one unsuspecting soul asked him why team-mate Michael Schumacher’s helmet was an odd shape. “Because he’s German, he’s got an odd shaped head,” Irvine replied.

During his first race at Suzuka in 1993 he unlapped himself from Ayrton Senna, much to the Brazilian’s annoyance. Senna accused him of almost hitting him to which Irvine quipped: “A miss is as good as a mile”. The row continued until Senna threw a punch. Ever keen to get the last word in Irvine yelled: “That’s an insurance claim there.”

Innes Ireland
1959-1966 IRE

Ireland was one of the biggest party lovers among drivers in the 1960s, and was famous for his hard driving and hard drinking. The latter probably meant he did not achieve as much as he should have. Stories of his off-track antics have entered into motorsport folklore. After one race win he got so drunk that he climbed onto the roof of the hotel, firing a pistol in the air. He later burst into the bar long after it had closed and thumped the unfortunate hotelier when he tried to explain the situation. Organisers of the following German Grand Prix were so disgusted by his behaviour they announced Ireland would be banned from competing, but in the end the matter was forgotten and he was allowed to enter.

Thanks to ESPN F1 for providing some of the information, and other sources such as Wikipedia and the Daily Mail.

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