Graham Hill

Intro British racing driver
A.K.A. Norman Graham Hill
Was Racecar driver Formula One driver Engineer Sailor Author
From United Kingdom
Type Engineering Literature Sports
Gender male
Birth 15 February 1929, Hampstead, United Kingdom
Death 29 November 1975, Arkley, United Kingdom (aged 46 years)
Star sign Aquarius

Norman Graham Hill OBE (15 February 1929 – 29 November 1975) was a British racing driver and team owner from England, who was the Formula One World Champion twice. He is the only driver ever to win the Triple Crown of Motorsport—the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix. He also appeared on TV in the 1970s on a variety of non-sporting programmes including panel games. He liked painting in his spare time. Hill and his son Damon were the first father and son pair to win Formula One World Championships. Hill's grandson Josh, Damon's son, also raced his way through the ranks until he retired from Formula Three in 2013 at the age of 22. Hill and five other members of the Embassy Hill team died in 1975 when the aeroplane he was piloting from France crashed in fog at night on Arkley golf course while attempting to land at Elstree Airfield in north London.

Early life

Born in Hampstead, London, Hill attended Hendon Technical College and joined Smiths Instruments as an apprentice engineer. He was conscripted into the Royal Navy and served as an Engine Room Artificer (ERA) on the light cruiser HMS Swiftsure, rising to the rank of petty officer. After leaving the Navy he rejoined Smiths Instruments.

Racing career

Hill did not pass his driving test until he was 24 years old, and he himself described his first car as "A wreck. A budding racing driver should own such a car, as it teaches delicacy, poise and anticipation, mostly the latter I think!" He had been interested in motorcycles but in 1954 he saw an advertisement for the Universal Motor Racing Club at Brands Hatch offering laps for 5 shillings. He made his debut in a Cooper 500 Formula 3 car and was committed to racing thereafter. Hill joined Team Lotus as a mechanic soon after but quickly talked his way into the cockpit. The Lotus presence in Formula One allowed him to make his debut at the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix, retiring with a halfshaft failure. In 1960, Hill joined BRM,he won also in that year on 8 May 1960 the Targa Florio in the class Sports 1600 together with a German driver Edgar Barth in a Porsche 718,and won the world championship with BRM in 1962. Hill was also part of the so-called 'British invasion' of drivers and cars in the Indianapolis 500 during the mid-1960s, triumphing there in 1966 in a Lola-Ford. In 1967, back at Lotus, Hill helped to develop the Lotus 49 with the new Cosworth-V8 engine. After teammates Jim Clark and Mike Spence were killed in early 1968, Hill led the team, and won his second world championship in 1968. The Lotus had a reputation of being very fragile and dangerous at that time, especially with the new aerodynamic aids which caused similar crashes of Hill and Jochen Rindt at the 1969 Spanish Grand Prix. A crash at the 1969 United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen broke both his legs and interrupted his career. Typically, when asked soon after the crash if he wanted to pass on a message to his wife, Hill replied "Just tell her that I won't be dancing for two weeks." Upon recovery Hill continued to race in F1 for several more years, but never again with the same level of success. Colin Chapman, believing Hill was a spent force, placed him in Rob Walker's team for 1970, sweetening the deal with one of the brand-new Lotus 72 cars. Although Hill scored points in 1970 he started the season far from fully fit and the 72 was not fully developed until late in the season. Hill moved to Brabham for 1971-2; his last win in Formula One was in the non-Championship International Trophy at Silverstone in 1971 with the "lobster claw" Brabham. The team was in flux after the retirements of Sir Jack Brabham and then Ron Tauranac's sale to Bernie Ecclestone; Hill did not settle there. Hill was known during the latter part of his career for his wit and became a popular personality – he was a regular guest on television and wrote a notably frank and witty autobiography, Life at the Limit, when recovering from his 1969 accident. Hill was also irreverently immortalized on a Monty Python episode ("It's the Arts (or: Intermission)" sketch called "Historical Impersonations"), in which a Gumby appears asking to "see John the Baptist's impersonation of Graham Hill." The head of St. John the Baptist appears (with a stuck-on moustache in Hill's style) on a silver platter, which runs around the floor making putt-putt noises of a race car engine. Hill at the 1971 Race of Champions Hill was involved with four films between 1966 and 1974, including appearances in Grand Prix and Caravan to Vaccarès, in which he appeared as a helicopter pilot. Although Hill had concentrated on F1 he also maintained a presence in sports car racing throughout his career (including two runs in the Rover-BRM gas turbine car at Le Mans). As his F1 career drew to a close he became part of the Matra sports car team, taking a victory in the 1972 24 Hours of Le Mans with Henri Pescarolo. This victory completed the so-called Triple Crown of Motorsport which is alternatively defined as winning either: the Indianapolis 500 (won by Hill in 1966), the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1972) and the Monaco Grand Prix (1963–65, 1968, 1969), or the Indianapolis 500, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Formula One World Championship (1962, 1968). Using either definition, Hill is still the only person ever to have accomplished this feat. Hill set up his own team in 1973: Embassy Hill with sponsorship from Imperial Tobacco. The team used chassis from Shadow and Lola before evolving the Lola into its own design in 1975. After failing to qualify for the 1975 Monaco Grand Prix, where he had won five times, Hill retired from driving to concentrate on running the team and supporting his protege Tony Brise. Hill's record of 176 Grand Prix starts remained in place for over a decade until being equalled by Jacques Laffite.

Family

Hill married Bette in 1955; because Hill had spent all his money on his racing career, she paid for the wedding. They had two daughters, Brigitte and Samantha, and a son, Damon, who himself later became Formula One World Champion—the first son of a former world champion to emulate his father.

Rowing

Before taking up motor racing, Hill spent several years actively involved in rowing. Initially, he rowed at Southsea Rowing Club, while stationed in Portsmouth with the Royal Navy and at Auriol Rowing Club in Hammersmith. He met his future wife Bette at a Boxing Day party at Auriol and, while courting her, he also coached her clubmates at Stuart Ladies' Rowing Club on the River Lea. In 1952 he joined London Rowing Club, then as now one of the largest and most successful clubs in Great Britain. From 1952 to 1954, Hill rowed in twenty finals with London, usually as stroke of the crew, eight of which resulted in wins. He also stroked the London eight in the highly prestigious Grand Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta, losing a semi-final to Union Sportif Metropolitaine des Transports, France by a length. Through his racing career he continued to support rowing and London. In 1968 when the club began a financial appeal to modernise its clubhouse, Hill launched proceedings by driving an old Morris Oxford, which had been obtained for £5, head-on into a boundary wall. Hill made three runs to reduce the wall to rubble, and the car was subsequently sold for £15. Hill felt that the experience gained in rowing helped him in his motor-racing. He wrote in his autobiography: "I really enjoyed my rowing. It really taught me a lot about myself, and I also think it is a great character-building sport…The self discipline required for rowing and the 'never say die' attitude obviously helped me through the difficult years that lay ahead." Hill adopted the colours and cap design of London Rowing Club for his racing helmet – dark blue with white oar-shaped tabs. His son Damon and grandson Josh later adopted the same colours with permission from the club.

Death

Hill in 1975 Hill died on 29 November 1975 at the controls of his Piper PA-23 Aztec twin-engine light aircraft when it crashed near Arkley, Hertfordshire, while on a night approach to Elstree Airfield in thick fog. On board with him were five other members of the Embassy Hill team who all died: manager Ray Brimble, mechanics Tony Alcock and Terry Richards, driver Tony Brise, and designer Andy Smallman. The party was returning from a car-testing session at the Paul Ricard Circuit in southern France. The subsequent investigation revealed that Hill's aircraft, originally registered in the US as N6645Y, had been removed from the FAA register and at the time of the accident was "unregistered and stateless", despite still displaying its original markings. Furthermore, Hill's American FAA pilot certification had expired, as had his instrument rating. His UK IMC rating, which would have permitted him to fly in the weather conditions that prevailed at the time, was also out of date and invalid. Hill was effectively uninsured. The investigation into the crash was ultimately inconclusive, but pilot error was deemed the most likely explanation. Hill's funeral was held at St Albans Abbey, and he is buried at St Botolph's graveyard, Shenleybury in Shenley, Hertfordshire.

Legacy

After his death, Silverstone village, home to the track of the same name, named a road, Graham Hill, after him and there is a "Graham Hill Road" on The Shires estate in nearby Towcester. Graham Hill Bend at Brands Hatch is also named in his honour. A blue plaque commemorates Hill at 32 Parkside, in Mill Hill, London NW7. In Bourne, Lincolnshire, where Hill's former team BRM is based, a road called Graham Hill Way is named in his honour. Also a nursery school in Lusevera, Italy, was named in his honour.

Career results

Complete Formula One World Championship results

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position, races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 WDC Pts
1958 Team Lotus Lotus 12 Climax FPF 2.0 L4 ARG MONRet NEDRet 500 BELRet NC 0
Lotus 16 Climax FPF 2.2 L4 FRARet GBRRet PORRet ITA6 MOR16
Lotus 16 (F2) Climax FPF 1.5 L4 GERRet
1959 Team Lotus Lotus 16 Climax FPF 2.5 L4 MONRet 500 NED7 FRARet GBR9 GERRet PORRet ITARet USA NC 0
1960 Owen Racing Organisation BRM P25 BRM P25 2.5 L4 ARGRet 15th 4
BRM P48 MON7 500 NED3 BELRet FRARet GBRRet PORRet ITA USARet
1961 Owen Racing Organisation BRM P48/57 Climax FPF 1.5 L4 MONRet NED8 BELRet FRA6 GBRRet GERRet ITARet USA5 16th 3
1962 Owen Racing Organisation BRM P57 BRM P56 1.5 V8 NED1 MON6 BEL2 FRA9 GBR4 GER1 ITA1 USA2 RSA1 1st 42 (52)
1963 Owen Racing Organisation BRM P57 BRM P56 1.5 V8 MON1 BELRet NEDRet GBR3 GERRet USA1 MEX4 RSA3 2nd 29
BRM P61 FRA3 ITA16
1964 Owen Racing Organisation BRM P261 BRM P56 1.5 V8 MON1 NED4 BEL5 FRA2 GBR2 GER2 AUTRet ITARet USA1 MEX11 2nd 39 (41)
1965 Owen Racing Organisation BRM P261 BRM P56 1.5 V8 RSA3 MON1 BEL5 FRA5 GBR2 NED4 GER2 ITA2 USA1 MEXRet 2nd 40 (47)
1966 Owen Racing Organisation BRM P261 BRM P60 2.0 V8 MON3 BELRet FRARet GBR3 NED2 GER4 5th 17
BRM P83 BRM P75 3.0 H16 ITARet USARet MEXRet
1967 Team Lotus Lotus 43 BRM P75 3.0 H16 RSARet 7th 15
Lotus 33 BRM P60 2.1 V8 MON2
Lotus 49 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 NEDRet BELRet FRARet GBRRet GERRet CAN4 ITARet USA2 MEXRet
1968 Team Lotus Lotus 49 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 RSA2 1st 48
Gold Leaf Team Lotus ESP1
Lotus 49B MON1 BELRet NED9 FRARet GBRRet GER2 ITA Ret CAN4 USA2 MEX1
1969 Gold Leaf Team Lotus Lotus 49B Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 RSA2 ESPRet MON1 NED7 FRA6 GBR7 GER4 ITA9 CANRet USARet MEX 7th 19
1970 Rob Walker Racing Team Lotus 49C Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 RSA6 ESP4 13th 7
Brooke Bond Oxo Racing – Rob Walker MON5 BELRet NEDNC FRA10 GBR6 GERRet AUT
Lotus 72C ITADNS CANNC USA Ret MEXRet
1971 Motor Racing Developments Ltd Brabham BT33 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 RSA9 21st 2
Brabham BT34 ESPRet MONRet NED10 FRARet GBRRet GER9 AUT5 ITARet CANRet USA7
1972 Motor Racing Developments Ltd Brabham BT33 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 ARGRet RSA6 15th 4
Brabham BT37 ESP10 MON12 BELRet FRA10 GBRRet GER6 AUTRet ITA 5 CAN8 USA11
1973 Embassy Racing Shadow DN1 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 ARG BRA RSA ESPRet BEL9 MONRet SWERet FRA10 GBRRet NEDNC GER13 AUTRet ITA 14 CAN16 USA13 NC 0
1974 Embassy Racing with Graham Hill Lola T370 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 ARGRet BRA11 RSA12 ESPRet BEL8 MON7 SWE6 NEDRet FRA13 GBR13 GER9 AUT12 ITA 8 CAN14 USA8 18th 1
1975 Embassy Racing with Graham Hill Lola T370 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 ARG10 BRA12 RSADNQ ESP NC 0
Hill GH1 MONDNQ BEL SWE NED FRA GBR GER AUT ITA USA

Complete Formula One Non-Championship results

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
1957 Cooper Car Company Cooper T43 (F2) Climax FPF 1.5 L4 SYR PAU GLV NAP RMS CAE INT13 MOD MOR
1958 Team Lotus Lotus 12 Climax FPF 2.0 L4 GLVRet SYR INT8 CAE
Lotus 12 (F2) Climax FPF 1.5 L4 AIN7
1959 Team Lotus Lotus 16 Climax FPF 2.5 L4 GLVRet AIN11 INTRet OUL5 SILRet
1960 Owen Racing Organisation BRM P48 BRM P25 2.5 L4 GLV5 INT3 SIL2 LOMRet OUL3
1961 Owen Racing Organisation BRM P48/57 Climax FPF 1.5 L4 LOM GLV2 PAU BRX VIE AIN3 SYRRet NAP LON SIL13 SOL KAN DAN MOD7 FLG OULRet LEW VAL RAN NAT RSA
1962 Owen Racing Organisation BRM P57 BRM P56 1.5 V8 CAP BRXDSQ LOM2 LAV GLV1 PAU AINRet INT1 NAP RMS2 SOL OUL2 MEX RANRet NATNC
R.R.C. Walker Racing Team Lotus 18/21 Climax FPF 1.5 L4 MAL3 CLP
Lotus 24 Climax FWMV 1.5 V8 KANRet MED DAN
1963 Owen Racing Organisation BRM P57 BRM P56 1.5 V8 LOM1 GLV9 PAU IMO SYR AIN1 INTRet ROM SOL KAN MED AUT OUL3 RAN
1964 Owen Racing Organisation BRM P261 BRM P56 1.5 V8 DMTRet NWTRet SYR AIN2 INT2 SOLRet MED
John Willment Automobiles Brabham BT11 BRM P56 1.5 V8 RAN1
1965 Owen Racing Organisation BRM P261 BRM P56 1.5 V8 ROCRet SYR SMT2 INTRet MED RAN
1966 Owen Racing Organisation BRM P83 BRM P75 3.0 H16 RSA SYR INT OULRet
1967 Team Lotus Lotus 48 (F2) Ford Cosworth FVA 1.6 L4 ROC SPR8 OUL3
Lotus 33 BRM P60 2.1 V8 INT4 SYR
Lotus 49 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 ESP2
1968 Gold Leaf Team Lotus Lotus 49 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 ROCRet INTRet
Lotus 49B OULRet
1969 Gold Leaf Team Lotus Lotus 49B Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 ROC2 INT7 MAD
Lotus 59B (F2) Ford Cosworth FVA 1.6 L4 OULRet
1970 Rob Walker Racing Team Lotus 49C Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 ROC5
Brooke Bond Oxo Racing – Rob Walker INT9
Lotus 72C OULRet
1971 Motor Racing Developments Ltd Brabham BT34 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 ARG ROCRet QUERet SPR INT1 RIN OUL VIC8
1972 Motor Racing Developments Ltd Brabham BT37 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 ROC BRA INT7 OUL REP VICRet
1973 Embassy Racing Brabham BT37 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 ROCRet INT
1974 Embassy Racing with Graham Hill Lola T370 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 PRE ROCNC INTRet
1975 Embassy Racing with Graham Hill Hill GH1 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 ROC INT11 SUI

Indianapolis 500 results

Starts 3
Year Carnumber Start Qual. speed Speedrank Finish Lapscompleted Lapsled Racestatus Chassis
1966 24 15 159.243 23 1st 200 10 Running Lola-Ford
1967 81 31 163.317 21 32 23 0 Piston Lotus-Ford 42/B1
1968 70 2 171.208 2 19 110 0 Crash T2 Lotus – Pratt&Whitney 56/3
Starts 3
Poles 0
Front Row 1
Wins 1
Top 5 1
Top 10 1
Retired 2
1966 24 15 159.243 23 1st 200 10 Running Lola-Ford
1967 81 31 163.317 21 32 23 0 Piston Lotus-Ford 42/B1
1968 70 2 171.208 2 19 110 0 Crash T2 Lotus – Pratt&Whitney 56/3
Poles 0
Front Row 1
Wins 1
Top 5 1
Top 10 1
Retired 2

Hill failed to qualify the innovative John Crosthwaite (who had worked with Hill at Team Lotus) designed 'roller skate' car for the 1963 Indianapolis 500 race after crashing in practice. Hill, who had been commuting weekly due to other commitments in Europe, would not wait in the USA while the car was repaired and risk not qualifying or qualifying badly. Hill's 1966 victory marked the first win by a rookie driver since Frank Lockhart's 1927 win and the last until Juan Pablo Montoya's visit to Victory Lane in 2000 (Montoya has also emulated Hill's feat of winning both the Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix). Hill entered the 1969 Indianapolis 500, but his car (Lotus-Ford Chassis 64/2) was withdrawn during practice along with those of Mario Andretti and Jochen Rindt due to delays rectifying problems associated with hub failure on Andretti's car.

Complete Tasman Series results

Year Car 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Rank Points
1964 Brabham BT4 LEV PUK WIG TER SAN WAR4 LAK LON1 6th 12
1965 Brabham BT11A PUK1 LEV WIG TER WAR5 SANRet LON4 7th 14
1966 BRM P261 PUK1 LEV WIG TER WAR2 LAK1 SAN LON2 2nd 30 (34)
1967 Lotus 48 PUK WIG LAK WARRet SAN LON NC 0
1968 Lotus 49T PUK LEV WIG TER SUR2 WAR2 SAN3 LON6 4th 17
1969 Lotus 49T PUKRet LEVRet WIG2 TER2 LAK4 WAR11 SAN6 5th 16

24 Hours of Le Mans results

Year Team Co-Driver Car Class Laps Pos. ClassPos.
1958 Team Lotus Cliff Allison Lotus XV-Climax S 2.0 3 DNF DNF
1959 Team Lotus Derek Jolly Lotus XV-Climax S 2.0 119 DNF DNF
1960 Porsche KG Jo Bonnier Porsche 718/4 RS S 2.0 191 DNF DNF
1961 North American Racing Team Stirling Moss Ferrari 250 GT SWB GT3.0 121 DNF DNF
1962 David Brown Organisation Richie Ginther Aston Martin DP212 Exp 4.0 78 DNF DNF
1963 Owen Racing Organisation Richie Ginther Rover-BRM ACO Prize 310 (8th)* (1st)*
1964 Maranello Concessionaires Jo Bonnier Ferrari 330P P 4.0 344 2nd 2nd
1965 Owen Racing Organisation Jackie Stewart Rover-BRM P 2.0 284 10th 2nd
1966 Alan Mann Racing Brian Muir Ford GT Mk.II P 7.0 110 DNF DNF
1972 Equipe Matra-Simca Shell Henri Pescarolo Matra-Simca MS670 S3.0 344 1st 1st

1963 Rover-BRM ran for the ACO prize for a gas turbine car covering a minimum of 3600 km, not officially classified.

Credits

Hill's easy wit and charm helped him become a television personality, notably on the BBC show Call My Bluff with Patrick Campbell and Frank Muir. For a number of years in the early 1970s he appeared as one half of a double act, with Jackie Stewart, as an insert within the BBC Sports Personality of the Year show. In June 1975 he appeared alongside his son, Damon Hill, on the popular television programme Jim'll Fix It. His appearance was later rebroadcast as part of the twentieth anniversary celebrations of the programme in January 1995, with Damon presenting a new segment at the end. In 1990, Hill was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. A one-off BBC Four documentary called Graham Hill: Driven was first broadcast on 26 May 2008.

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