Graham Hill

In the world of Formula 1 racing, where adrenaline and ambition collide on the track, there are few tales as awe-inspiring as the life of one man: Graham Hill. His story transcends the boundaries of mere success, delving deep into the realms of passion, perseverance, and triumph against all odds.

From the roaring engines that echoed through the grandstands to the gritty determination etched upon his face, Graham Hill’s journey is a testament to the indomitable spirit that fuels the hearts of true champions. He was also the only driver ever to win the Triple Crown of Motorsport, consisting of the Indianapolis 500, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Monaco Grand Prix

Join us as we embark on an extraordinary voyage through the remarkable life of an F1 racing legend, a man whose name has become synonymous with grit, glory, and the pursuit of greatness. Brace yourself for a rollercoaster of emotions as we unravel the triumphs, the tragedies, and the enduring legacy of the one and only Graham Hill.

Birthplace and Childhood

Graham Hill was born on 15 February 1929 in Hampstead, London, England, to Norman and Rowena Hill. His father was a stockbroker, and his mother was a music teacher.

He had a comfortable but not lavish upbringing and developed an interest in cars and motorcycles from an early age. Graham also excelled in sports, especially rowing, which he pursued at school and later at university. 

He did not pass his driving test until he was 24 years old, and only entered the world of motorsports a year later!

Where Did Graham Hill Receive His Education?

Hendon Technical College

Graham Hill received his education at Hendon Technical College, where he studied engineering. He also attended University College London, where he studied mathematics and rowed for the college team.

He did not complete his degree, however, as he joined the Royal Navy in 1946 as an engineering apprentice.

Graham served for six years, reaching the rank of petty officer. He also learned to fly planes during his naval service, which would later help him in his racing career.

Graham Hill – Parents

Graham Hill’s parents were Norman and Rowena Hill. Norman was a successful stockbroker who invested in various businesses, including a garage that serviced racing cars.

He supported his son’s racing ambitions and bought him his first car, a Morris Eight. He died in 1962, leaving Graham a substantial inheritance.

Rowena was a talented music teacher who taught piano and violin. She encouraged her son’s education and musical interests. 

She survived him by many years and died in 1993.

Graham Hill – Siblings

Brigitte Hill

Graham Hill had one younger sister, Brigitte Hill. She was born in 1932 and shared her brother’s passion for cars and racing.

Brigitte married John Surtees, another future F1 champion. She also worked as a journalist and wrote several books about motorsport.

She died in 2018 after a long illness.

Graham Hill – Wife and Children

Brigitte Hill

Graham Hill married Bette Shubrook in 1955 after a whirlwind romance. They met at Brands Hatch circuit, where she worked as a secretary for a racing team.

They had two children: Damon Hill, born in 1960, and Samantha Hill, born in 1966.

Damon followed his father’s footsteps and became a Formula One World Champion in 1996, making them the only father-son duo to achieve this feat.

Samantha became a successful artist and designer. Bette was a devoted wife and mother who supported her husband’s career and coped with his frequent absences and injuries.

She also helped him run his own racing team, Embassy Hill, after he left Lotus in 1973.

She died in 2018 after suffering from dementia.

How Did Graham Hill Get Into Motor Racing?

Graham Hill got into motor racing through his own talent and ambition. He started racing in motorcycles in 1953, competing in various events around Britain.

Graham switched to cars in 1954, driving a Formula Three Cooper-Norton for Speedwell Engineering. He impressed Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus Cars, who offered him a drive for Lotus in Formula Two in 1956.

He made his Formula One debut at the Monaco Grand Prix that year, finishing ninth. Hill also raced for other teams such as BRM, Brabham, Matra, Lola, Shadow, and his own Embassy Hill during his career.

How Did Graham Hill Get Into F1?

Graham Hill

Graham Hill got into F1 through his contract with Lotus Cars, which gave him the opportunity to race in the highest level of motorsport.

He quickly established himself as one of the best drivers on the grid, scoring his first podium at the British Grand Prix in 1957 and his first win at the Dutch Grand Prix in 1962. Hill also competed for the World Championship title several times, winning it twice in 1962 and 1968 with BRM and Lotus respectively.

He faced fierce competition from drivers such as Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, John Surtees, Jack Brabham, and his own son Damon Hill.

When Did Graham Hill Win the F1 World Championship?

Graham Hill F1 World Championship

Graham Hill won the Formula 1 F1 World Championship twice, in 1962 and 1968. He won the title in 1962 with BRM, driving the BRM P57. Graham won four races that year, the Dutch, German, Italian, and South African Grands Prix.

He beat Jim Clark by 12 points after a dramatic season finale at the South African Grand Prix, where Clark retired with an oil leak while leading the race. Hill won the title in 1968 with Lotus, driving the Lotus 49B.

He won three races that year, the Spanish, Monaco, and Mexican Grands Prix. Hill beat Jackie Stewart by 12 points after a consistent season in which he scored points in every race except one.

He also dedicated his title to his teammate Jim Clark, who died in a Formula Two accident earlier that year.

Graham Hill’s Formula 1 Statistics

Hill’s Formula 1 statistics are as follows:

  • Entries: 179
  • Starts: 176
  • Wins: 14
  • Podiums: 36
  • Pole positions: 13
  • Fastest laps: 10
  • Points: 270 (289)
  • Championships: 2 (1962, 1968)

Graham Hill Greatest Achievements

Hill’s greatest achievements include:

  • Winning the Formula 1 World Championship twice, in 1962 and 1968, with two different teams and cars.
  • Winning the Triple Crown of Motorsport, consisting of the Indianapolis 500 (1966), the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1972), and the Monaco Grand Prix (5 times; 1963, 1964, 1965, 1968, 1969).
  • Winning 14 Formula 1 races, including five at Monaco, where he earned the nickname “Mr. Monaco”.
  • Finishing on the podium in 36 Formula 1 races, including nine second places and thirteen third places.
  • Setting 13 pole positions and 10 fastest laps in Formula One.
  • Winning several sports car races, such as the Targa Florio (1958), the Nurburgring 1000 km (1958), and the Sebring 12 Hours (1971).
  • Being awarded the Segrave Trophy twice, in 1962 and 1972, for his outstanding contribution to British motorsport.
  • Being honoured with an OBE in 1969 for his services to motor racing.

Graham Hill Death

Graham Hill died on 29 November 1975, aged 46. He was flying his own plane from France to England after competing in a test session at Paul Ricard circuit.

He was accompanied by five members of his Embassy Hill team: driver Tony Brise, designer Andy Smallman, mechanics Terry Richards and Tony Alcock, and manager Ray Brimble.

Graham Hill plane

The plane crashed in thick fog near Arkley Golf Course in Barnet, north London. There were no survivors. The exact cause of the crash is still disputed, but some possible factors are:

  • His pilot’s licence, which had expired nine days before the crash.
  • His lack of experience in flying in bad weather conditions.
  • His faulty navigation equipment, which may have given him wrong readings.
  • The air traffic control instructions, which may have been unclear or misleading.
  • The terrain features, which may have obscured his view or confused his instruments.

His death shocked and saddened the racing world and his fans. He was buried at St Mary’s Church in Shenfield, Essex, where thousands of people attended his funeral.

He is remembered as one of the greatest and most versatile drivers of all time.


telegraph obituary

By Jonny Noble

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Jonny Noble I’m a dedicated F1 Writer – and I’ve Been One for Over Four Decades, I’ve been intimately immersed in the world of Formula One for more than 44 years. That’s longer than most professional commentators can boast! As an independent writer, I offer a unique perspective on the entire F1 landscape, free from biases that might cloud the discussion. We dive deep into the exhilarating, frustrating, and captivating facets of the F1 universe. So, regardless of my amateur status, one thing is undeniable: four decades of dedicated F1 fandom have forged strong opinions worth exploring!