The motorsport world has lost Murray Walker OBE, one of the most legendary broadcasters. So let’s relive his famous ‘Murrayisms’, BTCC style.
Motorsport legend Murray Walker OBE recently passed away on 13 March 2021, aged 97.
He had an iconic broadcasting voice for the motorsport world with iconic racing moments captured by his unique way with words – or ‘Murrayisms’ – that drew in millions of motorsport fans during the late 20th Century.
Not to mention the authentic level of excitement and enthusiasm that he carried into every single race he commentated on.
His voice put him on an exclusive list as one of motorsport’s legends without having to step into the race seat.
Such sad news to hear that Murray Walker OBE has passed away.
Murray was a true inspiration to us all, an icon and true motorsport legend.
We are eternally proud that his infectious commentary was such a big part of the BTCC.
Thank you… Rest in Peace Murray. pic.twitter.com/B5myk3Mh8U
— BTCC (@BTCC) March 13, 2021
His broadcasting career saw him establish a voice for commentating from 1976 to 2001 working for the likes of the BBC in Formula 1 and ITV in the 1990s (including the ‘Super Touring’ era) of the British Touring Car Championship.
This piece will revisit three picks of his classic lines that encapsulated the excitement of the BTCC’s finest televised moments.
“I’m going for first says John Cleland” – Silverstone 1992
Here we have Murray making a light-hearted interpretation of Cleland’s ‘strong’ feelings about Steve Soper’s overtake in the season finale race.
It was one of the most controversial races in the BTCC with Vauxhall’s John Cleland, Toyota’s Will Hoy and BMW’s Tim Harvey all contending for the title.
A rain-soaked qualifying session mixed up the overall order with these three title protagonists starting in the middle of the grid.
Cleland led the championship from the previous round at Donnington.
Steve Soper of BMW was tapped into by an eager David Leslie and hit by Rob Gravett on the opening lap. Even with severe damage to the rear, he rejoined at the back of the field to begin a comeback up the pack.
Things heated up when, on the penultimate lap, he fought his way into fourth place off Cleland. Cleland’s televised hand gesture expressed a sign of frustration as Soper integrated himself amongst an intense title fight he was not part of.
Things turned controversial when Harvey passed Cleland and then Soper for that all important fourth spot.
Into Brooklands corner, Cleland made a two-wheeled pass on Soper who was keen to defend the position and ensure Harvey (his teammate) could win the championship.
This conflict of interest meant that Soper took drastic action, cutting across the grass and into Cleland. Both retired with the Vauxhall driver understandably furious whilst Soper denied blame of the situation.
Harvey claimed the title with 152 points, followed by Hoy and Cleland in the Drivers’ Standings.
Murray reminiscing with Steve Rider a couple of years back…
🗣 MW: “It’s as good as, and possibly better to watch than #F1.”
— BTCC (@BTCC) October 10, 2019
“The car upside down is a Toyota!” – Silverstone 1993
One of his most iconic Murrayisms was a play-on-words from Toyota’s famous ‘the car in front is a Toyota’ slogan that span from the 1980s to 2004. Almost anyone has bound to have seen this as a car window sticker on a Toyota somewhere.
This famous sentence sprung when two teammates clashed, the late BTCC champion Will Hoy and Julian Bailey.
The duo were Toyota teammates in a pair of Toyota Carinas.
Hoy and Bailey were running in a comfortable 1-2 during the ninth round of the 1993 BTCC.
Out of nowhere, a late lunge was made from Bailey in pursuit of the top spot but failed upon attempting so.
The failure was defined so that out of the now non-existent Bridge corner, Bailey flipped his teammate onto his roof.
Drama at its finest sprung when Murray exclaimed that famous line, “the car upside down is a Toyota!”
The incident between the duo took both Toyotas into retirement as Nissan claimed a 1-2 finish.
“And oh oh…off it’s Tarquini!” – Knockhill 1994
This classic Murrayism came about as Gabriele Tarquini of Alfa Romeo rolled his 155 during Round 13 of the BTCC.
The driver had driven in 37 Formula 1 Grand Prix races but notably made his name in the touring car discipline, as the now-61-year-old has to this day.
He entered the BTCC in 1994 having secured third in the Italian Super Touring Car Championship. Spoiler alert! He did go onto winning the BTCC title by a 76-point margin.
Back to the origin of this iconic Murrayism, it was quite a simple line but was reacting to a dramatic incident for the dominating Alfa Corse outfit.
The Italian was down amongst the mid-pack in what he considered a race-winning car, but found the short yet demanding circuit a challenge that weekend.
Alan Menu, the eventual race winner, led far ahead whilst his fellow Renault Laguna teammate Tim Harvey was onto a comeback from down the order.
Hanging around in seventh place, Harvey was attacking Tarquini only as far as his rear bumper.
A misjudged dive from Harvey meant that the late-attempted pass into the first corner tipped Tarquini into a roll.
The Italian emerged unhurt from the incident, as what could not be said for his crumpled Alfa Romeo 155 that is seen in the footage below.
The Murrayism was a line of reaction to a dramatic roll and insinuated the moment of shock that it was Tarquini who was now out of the race.
These are just three picks of Murray Walker’s iconic BTCC ‘Murrayisms’ and commentating moments. Which other quotes and moments do you reminisce? Let us know!