Norman Graham Hill was born on the 15th February, 1929 at Hampstead, London. He joined Smiths Instruments at the age of 16 and served a five-year apprenticeship before being called into the Navy at the age of 21. On completion of National Service, he returned to Smiths. During this time he took up rowing (he later adopted the London Rowing Club’s colours for his helmet) and met his future wife, Bette.
Hill came late to motor racing, in fact he had not even driven a car until he was 24, then, in 1954, he saw a magazine advertisement for the Universal Motor Racing school at Brands Hatch, for five shillings a lap. After four laps he was hooked and as he would later remark "everything changed”.
The school didn’t keep it’s promises but Hill latched on to Don Parker, the most successful 500cc driver of all time, as a mechanic and general assistant. Through Don, Graham was able to make his competition debut at Brands Hatch on Easter Monday in a Cooper Mk IV. Graham finished second in his heat for the Junior Race and fourth in the final, a most respectable result for a car that was past its prime. In June he finished fourth in the Junior Final at Brands, this time in a Kieft and took third in the Junior Final in July.
After one race, he hitched a ride back to London with one of the other entrants, Colin Chapman, to whom he had been introduced by Gordon Jones, and Hill talked himself into a mechanic’s job at Lotus in Hornsey with some competitive driving. After much cajoling he was elevated to full-time driving and in 1958 he made his Formula 1 debut. After limited success and too many mechanical failures for his tastes, Hill left for BRM in 1960.
In 1962 he won his first Formula 1 race at Zandvoort and went on to claim his first World Championship. Two more years at BRM were marked by unreliability, so he returned to Lotus to partner double World Champion Jim Clark. After Clark’s tragic death at Hockenheim, it fell to Graham to pull the team together and he took his second World Championship. During his Formula 1 career he won at Monte Carlo five times earning him the nickname “Mr Monaco” and he became unique in being the only man to win the Indianapolis 500 and Le Mans as well as the Formula 1 Championship.
Mucking about with Jimmy.
Graham Hill died tragically in November 1975 when his plane crashed in fog, killing him and members of the Embassy Hill Team, including Tony Brise, son of John Brise.
Damon Hill tries out a Cooper Mk V