Hunter, who had been battling cancer for a year, was one of auto racing's giants, said NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian France.
"For more than 40 years, Jim was part of NASCAR and its history. He loved the sport, but loved the people even more," France said. "It seems as if everyone in the sport called him a friend. Jim will forever be missed by the NASCAR community. Our sympathies go out to his entire family."
Hunter, the one-time sports editor of the Columbia (S.C.) Record and a writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, became a columnist for Stock Car Racing magazine and crossed into public relations in the 1960s.
He became public relations director at Darlington Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway, remaining an executive there until accepting an offer from NASCAR in 2001 to lead an expanded public relations effort in response to increased media coverage of the sport nationwide.