Spotlight: Graham Hill – A Racing Legend Unlike Any Others (video)

October 16, 2012

It’s a bit of an old cliche to say that ‘things were different back in the old days of F1’, but in the case of top-level/F1 motorsport and, more particularily, the drivers themselves and the people directly involved, nothing could be further from the truth.

The 1960s (and to some extent, the early ’70s) are often regarded as the golden age of motorsport and Formula One for many unique reasons. Most companies and manufacturers involved at the time were small independents and some survived race-to-race in the hopes of winning some prize money to further their livelihood and passion over the coming season.

Jackie Stewart and his earliest mentor, Graham Hill, at Monza in ’67

Comraderie between drivers was commonplace – everyone hung out with one another and most drivers became the best of friends. They all shared a common passion that few people could relate to. It was family, pure and simple as that. Families vacationed together, the wives of the drivers and team-owners assisted by time-keeping and keeping various things in line… It was people helping people that also cared about one another.

Graham and his son, Damon, playing around with reigning F1 world-champion Jim Clark at his home in ’66. Bette Hill threw Graham a party to celebrate his homecoming from America where he won the Indianapolis 500 in a Ford-Lola.

Whether you drove for Ferrari or Tyrrell or Lotus or Brabham, it didn’t matter… You were family. You looked out for one another… and also grieved together whenever there was a loss of life from an accident which, sadly, happened all too often.

Graham in his Lotus 49B during the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort in ’69

One man from that era of Motorsport that seemed to shine in his own irrefutably unique way though, was Graham Hill. If there ever was a man to be labelled ‘a true gentleman’ of the sport, then Graham would easily claim that designation. He was a charismatic, charming, highly-knowledgeable, caring and incredibly talented driver that won the World Championship twice (in ’62 and ’68) and earned the unofficial title as ‘Mr. Monaco’ after winning that Grand Prix 5 times.

Graham ‘Mr. Monaco’ on the cover of Motor Racing magazine in ’68

Last night I was watching a documentary DVD called ‘Jackie Stewart: The Flying Scot’ and during a section of the interview, Jackie took a moment to talk about Graham, and how Graham was his earliest mentor during his formative F1 years in the early ’60s when Jackie was driving 2nd-string below Graham for the BRM team. What struck me was when Jackie said that in all of his years/decades of racing and being involved in Motorsport, never had he known a more intriguing, intelligent, handsome, witty, talented, ruthlessly skillful (he was also a phenomenal mechanic) and charming personality than Hill. He was one of a kind… And, as they say, they ‘broke the mould’ after Graham was born.

Graham, with his son Damon – the only father/son combo to be crowned F1 World Champions

It would be impossible for me to write about all of the amazing stories and various idiosyncrasies that made Graham Hill such a treasured, respected and sorely-missed man. It was such a sad and undeserving end for Graham when his private-plane crashed in ’75, killing himself and all his teammates onboard. Moreso, it saddens me that top-level Motorsport (especially F1) has gradually become the exact opposite of everything that Graham and the drivers/families/teams involved from that golden era represented and genuinely felt, experienced and discovered with one another…

Graham, enjoying one his several lifetime Grand Prix wins…

This well-made BBC Documentary on the life of Graham Hill offers a fine glimpse into the man himself – the sort of man that we’ll probably never see the likes of ever again. Enjoy…

-Blake J.
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Video: Swiss Hillclimb Excellence – New..!!

August 28, 2012

I’ve been fixated with this European Hillclimb Championship video captured recently by FingerVideo in St. Ursanne, Switzerland. A broad range of sporting variants charge (and dance) their way through the town and up the Pass, posting truly incredible speeds in the process…

Enjoy 😉

Car control: Europeans have it, and understand it.

-Blake J.
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Video Duel: Remembering The Talented Gilles Villeneuve

May 8, 2012

May 8th, 1982 marks 30 years since the death of Gilles Villeneuve; one of the most-talented and fearless drivers the sport ever witnessed… Here, we bring you a short video-clip tribute narrated by the ever-colourful (and opinionated) Jeremy Clarkson to assist in documenting this incredibly entertaining jousting match (for 2nd place) between Rene Arnoux and Villeneuve at the ’79 French Grand Prix…

 
-Blake J. 
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Turbos in F1: Documentary Highlights Its Birth

March 26, 2012

A fascinating 2-part period-era documentary here from the 1980s focusing on the emerging computerized presence in F1. As the narrator aptly puts it – “Gone are the oily rags and the flat-capped amateurs… Here, computers, rubber, metalogy, synthetics, electronics and aerodynamics consume fortunes…”

Many have sustained that it was this exact movement/moment in F1 when the heavy focus on decimal-obsessed, precisional accuracy replaced the ‘fun’ aspect of racing… Few would argue that it definitely signalled the end of an era and the beginning of a new one that resides to this day though.

At nearly 2 hours in length (in 2 parts), it’s a bit of a long-haul, but I cannot stress how interesting this documentary is in exposing the newfound troubles, clashes and endless headaches that permeated throughout the sport in the ’80s when these technologies were new and fresh yet bewilderingly complicated for their creators…

Jean-Pierre Jabouille in the Renault of 1977 - the first-ever (yet highly problematic) Turbo F1 car

Enjoy..!

-Blake J.
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Le Mans 1961: A Short Film By Triumph

March 20, 2012

One for the Vintage Racing/Le Mans enthusiasts – A fantastically intimate and detailed 34-min short-film of the 1961 race as captured by a film crew commissioned by the British Triumph Works team… Amazing to be reminded of how only 2 drivers per team split the entire 24 hours of driving between them back then.

Brilliant stuff…. enjoy..!

-Blake J.
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Sebring 2012: The Sights And Sounds

March 20, 2012

Audi scored a 1-2 victory this past weekend at Sebring International Raceway for the annual ’12 Hours of Sebring’ race. It was not only the 60th anniversary of the event itself, but the final (and fitting) swan song for the Audi R18 TDI.  Tom Kristensen, Dindo Capelloand and Allan McNish completed 301 laps in their Audi R18 to win by four laps in the opening round of the American Le Mans Series.

Presented here are the sights and sounds from this year’s Sebring 12 Hours, starting off with a video that contains no dramatic voice-overs or commentary – just the pure, raw sounds and sights as seen from various trackside points…

The Field - part 1

The Field - part 2

Turn one

-Blake J. 
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Classic 70’s and 80’s BMW Motorsport: A Photo Album

February 28, 2012

The BMW Motorsport Division was a dominant force on racetracks worldwide in the 1970’s and 80’s. Both privateers and the BMW works teams taking chequered flags on a fairly regular basis. Here we present an assortment of mostly rare photos from that exciting era… Enjoy..!

The unstoppable 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile’ having a spit of flame on the overrun.

BMW E21 320 Turbo Group 5 being tended-to in a convenient manner while an M1 Procar sits off to the right and a 3.0 CSL hovers in behind… Nice black-sasquatch boots by the way

E30 M3 leaping its way across the chicane

M1 Procar driven by Hans Stuck

E24 635CSi just stepping out for a dab of oppo…

BMW M-mechanics sorting through their combined wizardry on the 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile’ lump.

The 2002 wide-body racer belching out some flames

Page from an old Alpina brochure showcasing the BMW 2002 and 3.0 CSL racing efforts – look at the dish on those wheels..!

A classic photo from the era – 3.0 CSL flying at the Nurburgring

The 2002 cocking a leg up on the push from the bend

The E24 6-series having a sideways glance towards the corner

M1 Procar advertising one of the oddest-ever combinations of sponsors – Bosch, BBS, Penthouse and Pooh Jeans… The perks must have been outstanding..!

Oh y’know… just a regular Autobahn commute on a Monday morning

Alpina-liveried 3.0 CSL…

The JPS (John Players Special) sponsored E24 635CSi…

Not really a competition-based photo, but who could turn down an Alpina-smothered 2002 on lock…

The 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile’ attacking a bend…

Another one of the E24 635CSi…

E30 M3 braking late for the corner…

E21 320 Turbo Group-5 car clearing some tarmac.

More leaping shenanigans… Not exactly a ‘motorsport’ photo but a classic 2002 pic nontheless

Going slightly off track here again – the T100 F2 car of 1967

The E9 3.0 CSL ‘Art car’ being chased by a Martini-liveried Porsche 911

The M-cars of the 80’s – E30 M3, E28 M5 and the E24 M6

Again, not exactly motorsport-related… but who doesn’t enjoy a sideways M1

In conclusion, how could I NOT include the competition-spec BMW Microcar…!?

-Blake J.
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