Died, F1 Legend

Graham Hill


  • Hampstead, London, England Place of Birth
  • 15 February 1929 Date of Birth
  • 1958 Monaco Grand Prix F1 Debut
  • Brabham Current/Last Team

Norman Graham Hill was born in north London on February 15, 1929. He claimed he inherited his determination from his mother and his sense of humour from his father, a stockbroker. These qualities were crucial for enduring the hardships and dangers of wartime London, where Hill grew up during the Blitz. He played drums in a Boy Scout band, attended a technical school, and at 16, became an apprentice at the Smith instrument company. He bought a motorcycle and, on a foggy night, crashed into a stopped car, breaking his thigh and permanently shortening his left leg. In 1952, he joined the London Rowing Club, excelling in the sport and later wearing the club’s insignia (eight vertical stripes representing oars) on his racing helmet. Before that, he had to wear a Royal Navy uniform, which he felt out of place. He resented the compulsory nautical service, and as a sign of protest, he cultivated the neatly trimmed moustache that would become his trademark.

BornNorman Graham Hill
15 February 1929
Hampstead, London, England
Died29 November 1975 (aged 46)
Arkley, Barnet, London, England

Graham Hill’s unwavering determination, fierce pride, and immense courage allowed him to overcome the odds against more naturally gifted drivers. None were as popular with the public as Hill, the moustachioed extrovert known for his quick wit and love of the limelight. A natural entertainer, he became one of the first Formula One media stars. His fans remained loyal even when he raced past his prime, damaging his reputation. Millions were shocked when he died, not in a racing car, but while piloting his plane.

In 1953, on a whim, Hill took a few laps around Brands Hatch in a Formula Three car and was “immediately bitten by the racing bug.” His desire to pursue racing was hindered by two problems: he barely knew how to drive a road car and could hardly afford to fund a racing career. He bought a 1934 Morris, taught himself to drive, and got a license. He quit his job at Smith’s, collected unemployment insurance, and talked his way into a mechanic job at a racing school, where he soon became an instructor. He competed in a few races and met Colin Chapman, who was in the early stages of developing Lotus cars. After persuading Chapman to give him a part-time job (at one pound per day), Hill soon became a full-time Lotus employee and was rewarded with occasional races.

In 1958, Chapman decided Team Lotus was ready for Formula One, and Hill became a driver. However, the Lotus was slow and unreliable, and in 1960, Hill switched to BRM. This seemed a poor career move, as BRM had a history of underperformance. But Hill revitalised the team, leading by example and boosting morale. In 1962, he won in Holland, Germany, Italy, and South Africa, earning a well-deserved World Championship. He established himself as a top driver and a fan favourite.

The dashing driver with the roguish moustache, naughty wink, and quick wit became a media hero. Famous for antics like dancing on tabletops and performing striptease acts at parties, he was a charismatic figure. He flirted outrageously, much to the chagrin of his wife Bette, mother of their two daughters and son, Damon Hill, who would also become a champion. Hill’s life was filled with risk, including piloting his own plane, “Hillarious Airways.”

Despite his public persona, Hill had a fierce temper and dark moods, often lashing out at those around him. These outbursts became more frequent as BRM’s performance declined. After winning the Indianapolis 500 in 1966, Hill returned to Team Lotus in 1967. Following the deaths of Jim Clark and Mike Spence in 1968, Hill led the devastated team, showing remarkable bravery. He won in Spain, Monaco, and Mexico, securing his second driving title.

In 1969, he won Monaco for a record fifth time. However, a severe accident at the 1969 US Grand Prix ended his peak years. He recovered but was never the same driver. A season with Rob Walker and two years with Brabham were undistinguished. Yet, a 1972 Le Mans victory with Henri Pescarolo made him the only driver to win motorsport’s Triple Crown: Le Mans, Monaco, and the Indy 500.

Despite history suggesting he should have retired, Hill’s pride drove him on. In 1973, he set up his own Formula One team, but Embassy Hill Racing struggled. After failing to qualify for the 1975 Monaco Grand Prix, Hill retired as a driver but continued to run the team with Tony Brise as his star driver. Tragically, on November 29, 1975, Hill, Brise, and four other team members died when Hill’s plane crashed in dense fog near London.

Source: formula1.com

Graham Hill Formula One World Championship career

F1 Career1958–1975
TeamsLotus, BRM, Brabham, Hill
Entries179 (176 starts)
Championships2 (1962, 1968)
Career points270 (289)
Pole positions13
Fastest laps10
First entry1958 Monaco Grand Prix
First win1962 Dutch Grand Prix
Last win1969 Monaco Grand Prix
Last entry1975 Monaco Grand Prix


Driver Nationality Current/Last Team F1 Debut Status
British Tyrrell 1965 South African Grand Prix F1 Legend
British Team Lotus 1960 Dutch Grand Prix Died, F1 Legend
American Ferrari 1968 United States Grand Prix F1 Legend
Austrian Team Lotus 1964 Austrian Grand Prix Died, F1 Legend
Argentine Williams 1972 Argentine Grand Prix Died


Team Nationality Debut Season Status
Team Lotus British 1958 Historic
BRM British 1951 Historic
Brabham British 1962 Historic
Hill British 1973 Historic