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 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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Top Gear: Season 18 Trailer Marks 10 Years of Current Version

January 17, 2012

Hard to believe that 10 years have now passed under the belt of the current version of Top Gear. Just the other day I started re-watching some of the older ’80s episodes way before Jeremy Clarkson was even on the show – he came in around ’89 or ’90 if memory serves. I love how ‘homegrown’ and calmy articulate those older episodes were – all cardigans and leg-ups and classic British wit, not to mention the wonderfully intimate scenery footage of local Rallys being held in some remote Welsh town on some far-off mountainside…

Original TG host, William Woollard, giving you the inside story.

What with Clarkson’s reviews coming on stronger with each subsequent episode to inject a splash of excitement, yobbery, big hair and smarmy humour, TG eventually outgrew its humble beginnings aimed at the more discreet motoring aficianado. The ’90s version of TG laid the foundations for the current version becoming the worldwide phenomenon it has become – that fact still blows my mind…

1980's TG co-host Chris Goffey explaining things to you in his calmly collective manner.

What’s your favorite season of the latest incarnation…? I’d have to go with season 4 or 5, as that was from a time of greater innocence and a more youthful, throw-caution-to-the-wind energy was evident. It was also froma time before TG was being broadcasted to a weekly worldwide audience and therefore the boys seemed far more relaxed to inject harsh jabs at Americans, the French and themselves without worrying about/relying on scripts and low-brow planted-humour to ‘assist’ their growing audience, as is so prevalent now and has been for many years…

Then this guy shows up and all hell breaks loose...

Light moaning aside though, it’s always good fun to have a new season of TG in the wings to brighten up your Sundays. Here’s a preview for the upcoming Season 18 that begins on January 29th..!

-Blake J.
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