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This week we said goodbye to our client partner and dear friend , ’s Vice President of Corporate Communications, who passed away at the far-too-young age of 71. As very appropriate tributes for Hunter (as he was affectionately known) have poured in from drivers, owners, tracks, media and his colleagues at NASCAR, I have been struck by the consistency of what will be his legacy among those blessed to have known him. Simply, Hunter loved – really, really loved – NASCAR. More correctly, Hunter loved the people who make up NASCAR and that fueled his passion.

Back in May, I spent two amazing hours with Hunter one-on-one in his motor coach at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He was in the middle of treatments that were draining and he was clearly tired, but talking about NASCAR, his team, the media and the history of the sport was energizing for him. He loved it. I loved it more.

Not a word was spoken about strategy, tactics, digital platforms, business objectives, social media, budgets, e-mail, tweets, press releases or anything else that seem to dominate the talk of a common day in our business. No, all Hunter talked about was people and the face-to-face experiences he had with them. Some stories were hilarious, others were poignant. All of them were real. They were about relationships and they were, indeed, Hunter’s collection of trophies from a life devoted to his passion. And therein lies the genius of Jim Hunter that I will always remember – meaningful relationships and passion for what you do and who you do it with will always be the cornerstones of success, especially in a craft that is, at its core, all about connecting with people.