Graham Hill has an image stronger than almost any driver. Black helmet with white flashes, moustache and a story to tell. Plus, lest we forget, a host of trophies and garlands to his name, from winning two F1 world titles, the Indy 500 in 1966 and the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1972 plus seven from Goodwood alone where he was the man to beat in GTs.
What makes this tally even more outstanding is the fact that he didn’t earn his driving licence until he was 24 years old and made his way through his early racing career by working as a mechanic in return for drives. Joining Lotus for 1956, Graham moved with the team to F1 in 1958, but a move to BRM led to his first F1 title in 1962. Typical of the day, his win in that year’s Glover Trophy followed another Goodwood win earlier in the meeting when Graham won the St Mary’s Trophy in John Coombs’s Jaguar 3.8. He’d win the latter again in 1963, but also the RAC Tourist Trophy in Maranello Concessionaires’ Ferrari 250GTO and, notably, the first of his five Monaco F1 wins.
Increasingly frustrated by BRM, Graham had the good fortune to be with Lotus in 1967 when it gave the Ford DFV its debut. This was the engine to have in F1. Jim Clark was then undoubted team leader, but he was killed at Hockenheim in 1968 and Graham pulled the show together by landing his second F1 title.
Forming his own F1 team undoubtedly produced a few more funny stories but, just as his driver Tony Brise was showing promise, Graham crashed his light aircraft in fog on the way back from testing at Paul Ricard late in 1975, killing the people’s champion, a future world champion and four team members.
The Graham Hill Trophy is a race for GT cars of a type that raced at Goodwood from 1960-66 at the 74th Members’ Meeting.
Lead image courtesy of Lothar Spurzem licensed under Creative Commons 2.0