29 Years Ago Today
November 29 1975 – a horribly foggy night over SE England. That fog claimed the life of one of the all-time greats, Graham Hill, plus a future champion in Tony Brise, plus the nucleus of Hill’s F1 team.

What would he have made of the changes in F1 over the last 29 years? What joy he would have felt in 1996. What pleasure he gave to so many.

As a teenager at Crystal Palace in, I think, 1971, I stood in awe of this man, as he chatted in the paddock – those uniquely bandy legs, the moustache, the slicked back hair, the London Rowing Club helmet, all trademarks of one of the greatest characters the sport has ever seen. The evidence from the programme suggests that I was so in awe, I didn’t ask him for his autograph: I did manage to get them from Henri Pescarolo, Ronnie Peterson and Carlos Reutemann, but not the great man himself.

We’ve still got our characters in sportscar racing, but poor old F1 seems almost devoid of them. Is that largely a factor of the money involved?

I missed Graham’s Le Mans win in 1972 and his last F1 win in 1971, but I did see his last F2 win, at Thruxton in April ’71 (he outfoxed Peterson, the wily old dog), and I did see him race to second against the late Ronnie Peterson, in F2 again, at Brands Hatch in August of the same year. Hill, Schenken, Wollek and Reutemann were all in Rondel Racing (Ron Dennis / Neil Trundle) Brabhams, Peterson in the factory March 712. Hill could still do it, given the machinery, despite those bandy old legs.

Below is the programme cover from that Brands Hatch meeting in 1971 – but the image of Graham is from an even earlier era.

And here are a couple of fascinating links – to a biography of Graham Hill, and to one fan’s recollections of Hill’s last F1 win, in 1971. The 8w.forix.com website is a very, very good one, packed with marvellous photographs – from a very different era. Well done Mattijs Diepraam, Felix Muelas, Rainer Nyberg and Leif Snellman.

To bring the Graham Hill / Hill GH2 story right up to date, former Hill 'spannerman' Ian Flux drove this car at Dijon recently, for a feature in December's MOTOR SPORT magazine. "I got in the car and it all came flooding back," said Fluxie last week, in Bahrain. "Very emotional."

dailysportscar.com

 

Contents Copyright © dailysportscar.com. All Rights Reserved.