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Faraway Hills PDF Print E-mail

Graham Hill and Phil Hill, both sadly no longer with us, had two things in common: they both became Formula One world champions, and both won at Le Mans.? Graham, of course, also added the Indianapolis 500 to his CV in 1966, completing the so-called motor-racing ?Grand Slam?.

Phil Hill ? World Champion 1961
Ferrari had already achieved sufficient points to win the 1961 Constructors? Championship, and as the teams headed for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, German driver Wolfgang von Trips led the championship with Phil Hill second; Richie Ginther was the third Ferrari driver.

The German was on course to win the 1961 championship, leading the race when his Ferrari collided with Jim Clark?s Lotus at the Curva Parabolica, killing its driver and 14 spectators. As a result Enzo Ferrari withdrew the rest of the team ? except for American Phil Hill who went on to win the race and take the drivers? title. Enzo Ferrari was far from ecstatic though, despite also winning the World Sportscar Championship in the same year, and withdrew Ferrari from racing for the remainder of the season, leaving Hill with no drive for his home Grand Prix at Watkins Glen (which incidentally saw Lotus? first ever Grand Prix win, courtesy of Innes Ireland). Phil Hill began racing in 1950, winning a large number of sportscar races in America. He went to Europe and competed in the 1954 Le Mans 24-Hours, before winning the 1955 USA national sportscar title in a privately-entered Ferrari. This was enough to bring Hill to the attention of Enzo Ferrari who entered him in European races for 1956. He continued with great success in 1957 before winning the 1958 Le Mans classic partnering Olivier Gendebien. Hill was to take two further Le Mans victories with Gendebien in a Ferrari, in 1961 and ?62.
The American moved up to Ferrari?s Formula One team in 1958, becoming instrumental in Mike Hawthorn winning the world championship that year, when he waived the Englishman through enabling Hawthorn to finish second in the race behind Stirling Moss? Vanwall. Hill took his first Formula One victory at the Italian Grand Prix in 1960, before going on to his title year in 1961.

Graham Hill ?- World Champion 1962, 1968

ImageGraham Hill did not start racing until late in his life; indeed he did not even learn to drive until he was 24.? Graham bought his first car a fortnight before his twenty-fourth birthday on January 31, 1953.? It was a 1934 Morris 8 Tourer; costing ?110, and Graham borrowed the money from his parents.

Born in Hampstead, north-west London on February 15, 1929, Hill talked his way into a drive with Lotus, but first he had to work in the factory building race cars for the princely sum of ?9 a week.

Graham joined BRM in 1960 and won his first world title with the team in 1962.? That year, Graham won the Dutch, German and Italian grands prix, reaching an exciting climax in South Africa where the championship would be decided between Hill and Jimmy Clark.? Clark led throughout until his Lotus retired, handing the win to Graham.? Hill would finish runner-up in 1963, ?64 and ?65 to Clark, John Surtees and Clark respectively. In 1968 he won the drivers? world championship for the second time.

Indy 500

It was not until the Sixties the British constructors started to have any impact on the famous Indianapolis 500, and it began with Jim Clark who competed at Indianapolis on five occasions, finishing second in 1963 to Parnelli Jones and taking his famous win in 1965.? Clark started from pole in 1964, with front row starts in both 1965 and 1966.? Clark?s 1965 win was the first for a rear-engined car at the Indy 500. No front-engined car has won the race since.

There was some conjecture that the timekeepers had miscounted laps in 1966, but whatever the truth, the record books show that Graham Hill won the 1966 Indianapolis 500 from Jim Clark. While Clark led 66 of the 200 laps, history records that Graham Hill led the final 10.

Local newspaper The Indianapolis Star described the race as ?the most fantastic, confused and incredible 500?. The newspaper went on: ?Jimmy Clark, battling an ill-handling car, spun on the 62nd and 84th laps while leading. Then, with 25 miles to go, Jackie Stewart appeared to have the race in hand. But his car lost oil pressure and he was sidelined. Despite heated protests by Clark?s car owner, Colin Chapman, and sponsor Andy Granatelli that Hill had been incorrectly scored with an extra lap, the unofficial results help up.?


Embassy Racing

Graham Hill started his own team in the early Seventies with support from Embassy cigarettes.? He raced a Shadow and a Lola before commissioning his own car, logically called the Hill.? Graham retired from driving in 1975, promoting young British sensation Tony Brise to the number one seat in the team.


Following a test session at Paul Ricard in the south of France, Hill, piloting his own Piper Aztec aeroplane, hit a tree in poor visibility in November 1975, killing himself and several members of the team, including Brise.? Hill?s funeral took place at St. Alban?s Abbey in Hertfordshire.

Second Generation

Both the world champion Hills, Phil and Graham, had sons that became racing drivers, with mixed success.? Damon, son of Graham, became world champion in 1996 driving for Williams-Renault.? Derek, son of Phil, achieved a reasonably successful career in sports cars and F3000, but was never going to emulate his illustrious father. He is currently involved in historic racing and working as a racing instructor after moving back to the USA. ?Damon is retired and oversees the fledgling racing career of his son Joshua.

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© 2019 Jeff Heselwood. All rights reserved.
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