Norman Graham Hill (15
February 1929 – 29 November 1975) was a British racing
driver and two-time Formula One World
Champion. He was born in Hampstead, London.
Graham Hill is the only driver to win the so-called Triple Crown of
After serving in the Royal Navy
Engine Room Artificer
re-joined Smiths Instruments
been interested in motorcycles but in 1954 he saw an advert for the
Universal Motor Racing Club at Brands Hatch offering laps for 5 shillings.
He made his
debut in a Cooper 500 Formula 3
was committed to racing thereafter. Graham 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
won the world championship with them 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
In 1967, back at Lotus
, Hill helped to
develop the Lotus 49
with the new Cosworth
-V8 engine. After team mates Jim Clark
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
at the 1969 Spanish Grand Prix
. A crash at
the 1969 United States
broke his legs and interrupted his career.
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
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"
But the team was in
flux after the retirements of Sir Jack
and then Ron Tauranac
sale to Bernie Ecclestone
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 when recovering
from his 1969 accident, Life At The Limit
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
appears on a silver platter, which runs around the
floor making putt-putt noises of a race car engine.
Hill was involved with four films between 1966 and 1974, including
appearances in Grand Prix
Caravan to Vaccarès
which he appeared as a helicopter pilot.
Although Hill had concentrated on F1 he also maintained a presence
in sports car racing
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
sports car team, taking a victory in
the 1972 24 Hours of Le
with Henri Pescarolo
victory completed the so-called Triple Crown
which is alternatively defined as winning either:
Using either definition, Hill is still the only person ever to have
accomplished this feat.
With works drives becoming hard to find, Hill set up his own team
in 1973: Embassy Hill
from Imperial Tobacco
. The team
used chassis from Shadow
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
Hill's record of 176 Grand Prix starts remained in place for over a
decade, being equalled by Jacques
Hill married Bette in 1955. They had two daughters, Brigitte and
Samantha, and a son, Damon
became Formula One World Champion, the only son of a former
champion to do so.
Hill at the 1971 Race of
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 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
at Henley Royal
, 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
Famously, Hill adopted the colours and cap design of London RC for
his racing helmet - dark blue with white oar
-shaped tabs. Damon Hill later adopted these same
November 1975, returning from the Paul Ricard circuit, France, Hill
was killed when he crashed the Piper Aztec aeroplane he was piloting, whilst
attempting to land in foggy conditions, near the 4th green,
Arkley Golf Course in North London.
The crash resulted in not only the death of
Hill but team manager Ray Brimble, mechanics Tony Alcock and Terry
Richards, up-and-coming driver Tony Brise
and designer Andy Smallman; all from the Embassy Hill team. The
subsequent inquiry questioned his decision not to divert to another
His funeral was at St Albans Abbey, UK.
As Hill was uninsured his estate was sued by the families of the
other victims. Settling the claims wiped out the estate .
After his death, Silverstone village, home to the track of the same
name, named a road, Graham Hill, after him. Graham Hill Bend at
Hatch is also named in his honour.
Formula One World Championship results
) (Races in
indicate pole position)
* Hill entered the 1958 German
in a Formula Two
Indy 500 results
||Lotus - Pratt&Whitney 56/3
- Hill's 1966 victory marked the first win by a rookie driver
since Frank Lockhart's 1927 win and the last until Juan Montoya's visit to Victory Lane in
- 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.
"I'm an artist, the track is my canvas, and the car is my
"Time is of the essence and I don't have much essence left." [Quote
from his biography published after his death]
Hill's easy wit and charm helped him become a television
personality, notably on the BBC
show Call My
with Patrick Campbell
. 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
Hill was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of
A one-off BBC Four
Graham Hill: Driven
broadcast on May 26, 2008.
- Caravan to Vaccarès: Cast & Crew
movies.msn.com. Retrieved on July 14, 2007.
- Graham Hill, Google Maps
- Graham Hill Indy 500 Race Stats