Hunt earned the nickname "Hunt the Shunt" for his on-track exploits. This on-track persona did not stay on track; Hunt was a playboy, sleeping with over 5000 women, and often consumed alcohol and drugs.
Hunt started in touring car racing, and eventually progressed into Formula 3. In 1973, he joined up with Lord Hesketh, and drove for the Hesketh team until he signed to drive for McLaren in 1976, his strong performances for Hesketh, including one win, marking him out as an ideal signing after Emerson Fittipaldi's late exit from the team. Hunt went on to won the championship, but by a very small margin after old roommate Niki Lauda's horrendous accident. Hunt never actually lead the championship until the final race. He was the only person to do this until Sebastian Vettel in 2010. For 1979, Hunt joined the Wolf team, but the car was uncompetitive and Hunt retired mid-season.
After retirement, he was signed up by the BBC to act as co-commentator to Murray Walker, whom Hunt was nearly an opposite to. Hunt continued in this role until his death in 1993 from a heart attack at the age of 45.