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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Photo Album: Luxury Supercar & Concours d’Elegance Weekend – Vancouver 2012

September 11, 2012

This past weekend (Sept. 8th and 9th) marked the third annual Luxury Supercar & Concours d’Elegance Weekend, held on the grounds of the beautiful Van Dusen Gardens in the Shaughnessy region of Vancouver, British Columbia.

The size of the show this year nearly doubled in comparison to the previous year and, it must be said, the thought given towards the layout, open-space and ambiance of the swooping lawns of Van Dusen in displaying these vehicular beauties was an appreciated improvement over any other car-show I’ve ever attended at the historical garden. Well done, organizer(s)… 😉

For this year’s event, special attention was given towards celebrating certain themes. Among those were: 50 years of James Bond cars, Classic Supercars, the 60th Anniversary of Porsche in North America, 50 years of Shelby cars, Mercedes-Benz roadsters, classic Italian motorbikes and (almost) 100 years of Aston Martin.

The weekend culminated with the Shaughnessy Concours d’Elegance, awarding trophies on Sunday to the Best In Class. And Sunday was my chosen day for attending the event, seeing as how the Saturday was absolutely jam-packed with loads of people at the event during one of our last days of blistering Summer-y sunshine before Autumn announces its arrival.

This turned out to be a smart decision on my part, as Sunday was forecasted with overcast skies and a noticeable cooling in temperatures. Less people and less sunshine = a more comfortable and relaxed viewing (and photographical) experience all around.

Some notable cars in attendance were the new 2013 Aston Martin Vanquish, the 1933 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 by Figoni, the 1951 Ferrari 212 Export Vignale Coupe (stunning), the return of the 1967 Toyota 2000GT (the only one in Canada), the Ferrari F40 and Enzo supercar, the wide assortment of Lamborghinis both old and new, the army of Shelby Mustangs, the 4 (or was it 5 ?) McLaren MP4-12C’s in varying trim and colour packages, the Mercedes/Mclaren SLR 722, the Spyker C8, the 1947 Humber Sedanca D’Ville (owned by King George VI)… and so on…

It goes without saying that this was one of, if not THE, most extraordinary vehicular event this fair, west-coast city has ever laid host to… So without further ado, let’s allow the photos to illustrate the extravagance and automotive rarities that were bestowed upon our region for one fine weekend in September… Hope you enjoy the photos.

-Words and Photography: Blake J.
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Video Tribute: Carroll Shelby and the Cobra

May 15, 2012
As most of you will have probably heard or read by now, we lost an American automotive legend last week – Carroll Shelby passed away resulting in complications from pneumonia… He was 89.

Carroll in the original AC Cobra – the 1962 CSX2000

Responsible for developing the mighty AC Cobra (great feature in last month’s Octane magazine), the Shelby line of high performance Mustangs and lest we forget his heavy involvement with bringing the Ford GT40 to fruition where it swept the limelight away from Ferrari in ’66 by winning Le Mans 1, 2, 3… It subsequently won Le Mans every year to ’69.

The GT40 that crossed the line in 1st place at the legendary 1966 Le Mans

The video below comes courtesy of a ‘Behind The Headlights’ feature/documentary that originally aired on the Speed Channel. At just over 43 minutes in length (edited w/out those annoying US commercials) it comes as an intriguing testament to the die-hard mentality and perseverence of Carroll and all the talented ‘blue collar’ engineers that developed and assisted with the birth of the Cobra from its original, humble British roots to the flame-spitting, Le Mans-entered Daytona Cobra Coupe…
Enjoy… 😉
Rest in peace Carroll…
Also, for those wishing to own a Carroll Shelby-approved ‘continuation’ of the original Cobra Coupe (amongst other ’60s Ford/Chevy Motorsport icons), you simply can’t go wrong in checking yourself into one of the incredibly beautiful (and detail-ridden) examples built by South African-based Superformance. Some tasty examples of their stunning recreations below…

The Superformance Corvette Grand Sport Roadster

Their Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe…

And their exquisite GT40 recreation…

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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Video: Evo Magazine’s Harry Metcalfe Shows Us His 1972 Lotus Elan Sprint

April 13, 2012

Brilliant new video here from Evo Magazine founder, Harry Metcalfe, detailing the rather  interesting engineering specs and idiosyncrasies of his 1972 Lotus Elan Sprint.

To see the massive, modern 20 inch Maserati wheel parked-up next to the Elan’s teeny 13 x 4 inch wheel is not only amusing but incredibly telling in mapping out the 40-year gap in automotive trends and the present day needs for harnessing power with monstrous levels of grip in these horsepower-obsessed times. I also love the fact that the Elan weighs a paltry 700 kg and easily out-performs most cars of this niche on any given day… and it’s a 50 year-old design…!

He even takes us for an onboard drive – what a noise…!

I’ve always loved and admired these cars. Now I want one more than ever before…

-Blake J.
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In Memoriam: Ferdinand Alexander Porsche – 1935-2012

April 5, 2012

Take a moment to doff your cap in memoriam of the passing of Ferdinand Alexander Porsche; the man credited with designing and shaping the iconic Porsche 911.

Born in 1935 and the eldest son of Ferry and Dorothea Porsche, FA (as he was more commonly known) carried the family traditions of ‘good, honest design’ philosophies throughout his tenure at Porsche. It was in 1962, shortly after being appointed the Head of the Porsche Design Studio, that he penned the iconic 911 shape that has endured in its basic form for the last 50 years.

Ferdinand with a scale-model of his legendary creation - the 904 GTS

Ferdinand also acheieved worldwide acclaim for his designs in various industrial accomplishments as well, not least being pens, eyewear, desk lamps, chairs and wrist-watches amongst many others…

The 904 GTS in action

FA also designed the 1962 Type 804 F1 racecar along with the forever legendary (and beautiful) 904 GTS, but the 911 was his shining moment that cemented his vast abilities and talents within the Porsche automotive philosophy and his family’s long-standing tradition of exquisite refinement.

The 1962 Type 804 Formula 1 car

Ferdinand was 76 years old.

Sculpting the 911 in 1962

-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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