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Video Documentary: Graham Hill – Driven

Submitted by on April 28, 2010

This six part series shown on the BBC is sure to bring a tear to the eye of F1 fans everywhere.

Graham Hill, the larger than life character and winner of two Formula 1 world titles, the Indy 500, and Le Mans, is profiled in the extraordinarily moving story about his life.

Charting his career from his first race to his shocking death in a plane crash, you can’t help but wish you didn’t know the ending.

The documentary features interviews with his wife Bette, son Damon and daughters Brigitte and Samantha. Formula 1 drivers including Jackie Stewart make an appearance, as do his long suffering BRM and Lotus mechanics and some of his closest friends. It all makes for a wonderful tribute with stories from the heart about this man who swam against the tide to become one of the words greatest racing drivers.

Apart from his “big” achievements its easy to forget some of the details, such as winning the Indy 500 at his first attempt, winning for Lotus first race back after Clark had been killed, winning three times in a row at Monaco for BRM (5 wins in total) and coming back from his knee snapping shunt at Watkins Glen in 1969 with Rob Walkers team in 1970 and finishing in a creditable 6th position. Setting up his own team has often been viewed as a failure, but of course in the right context its a huge thing to achieve, even if the results did not come.

By all accounts he was the life of the party and engaging company and will be remembered for some classic quotes including:

I’m an artist, the track is my canvas, and the car is my brush.” and “Time is of the essence and I don’t have much essence left.”

Of course we all know what happened in November 1975, when Hill was returning from the Paul Ricard circuit, France. Graham was killed when  the Piper Aztec aeroplane he was piloting crashed whilst attempting to land in foggy conditions at the Arkley Golf Course in North London.

The crash resulted in not only the death of Hill but team manager Ray Brimble, mechanics Tony Alcock and Terry Richards, up-and-coming driver Tony Brise and designer Andy Smallman; all members of the  Embassy Hill team.

The subsequent inquiry questioned his decision not to divert to another airfield. Hill was uninsured and his estate was successfully sued by the families of the other victims. Settling the claims wiped out the Hill estate and the family was left to start again.

Rich Fowler

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