The Hills Have Eyes for Racing


Having always been a massive fan of Damon Hill I thought I would right a piece
covering all three of the racing family that is to say Graham, Damon and the up and
coming Joshua.

To begin at the beginning as it is said.


Norman Graham Hill (That sounded like the opening line to porridge didn’t it.) two times
formula one champion and the only man ever to win the Triple Crown of Motorsport he
was also respectfully and affectionately known as Mr Monaco.

At first Graham was only interested in motorcycles (As indeed his son would be in
years to come.) he didn’t develop a taste for the four wheeled variety of motorsport until
he noticed an advert offering a go in a Cooper 500 formula 3 car at Brands Hatch for 5
shillings (25p where do I sign.) he could not have known then whilst he was driving
around that famous circuit catching the bug for the sport that in years to come he would
have a section of that very race track named in his honour.

Graham always had an easy and likable way about him he was massively intelligent had
a quick wit and a keen and very dry sense of humour and it was these qualities that
managed (Not earned he simply talked his way in.) to get him a drive with Team Lotus
who he had joined as a mechanic he simply used his charm to get himself behind the
wheel of the Grand Prix car debuting at the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix, not exactly the
easiest place to make a debut but it didn’t phase him indeed he would go on to become
the undisputed king of Monaco and earn himself the title of Mr Monaco, even the late
great Jim Clark could not hold a candle to him there and was not ashamed to admit as

As I have just mentioned his Mr Monaco title it is only fair that I should explain what the
Triple Crown of Motor Sport is, most people probably do know but some may not and
yet others may not realise there are two versions or opinions of what it is.

The first version (Opinion.) states that a driver must win The Indianapolis 500, The Le
Mans 24 hour and the Monaco Grand Prix to wear the crown.

The second Version (Opinion) states that a driver must win the Indianapolis 500, The
Le Mans 24 hour and The Formula One World Championship to wear the crown.

The fact is it doesn’t really matter which of these criteria you subscribe to Graham has
covered the lot and is the only man who can claim the honour and I for one do not
believe anyone will do it again.

I could go on and give you a blow by blow account of Graham Hills career but that is
not what this article is about, rather it is about a racing family and a summary of their
collective achievements (To date.) and so I will simply give you the rest of Grahams
stats and a brief view on his untimely and career ending death

Graham joined BRM IN 1960 and won his first WDC with them in 1962, four years after
his debut, in 1967 he returned to Team Lotus he was teammate to Jim Clark and Mike
Spence both of whom were killed and he found himself to be team leader (Just like his
son would come to be after the death of Ayrton Senna.) and went on to win his second
title in 1968.

Graham suffered an horrendous crash at Watkins Glen in the United States Grand Prix
breaking both his legs, upon recovery he returned to racing but was never the same
driver he once was, finding it difficult to get a works drives and so he set up his own
team with sponsorship from Embassy Imperial Tobacco but he failed to qualify at
Monaco a race he had won 5 times and so hung up his helmet, ironically making
Monaco both Hill’s debut and final race.

Graham concentrated on running his team and mentoring his protégé Tony Brise but
both were tragically killed along with Ray Brimble (The Team Manager.) Andy Smallman
(Designer.) Terry Richards and Tony Alcock (Team Mechanics) of the Hill Embassy F1
Team at ten o’clock at night, on the 29th November 1975, Graham was piloting his
Piper Aztec aeroplane there was a thick fog and the Piper clipped a row of trees on the
Arkley golf course in Hertfordshire all the occupants of the aircraft died instantly.

Graham Hill’s funeral was held at St Albans Abbey three, thousand people attended and
he is buried at St Botolphs church in Shenley.

As well as a bend at Brands hatch being named after him there is also a road in
Silverstone Village named in his honour and there is a blue plaque which
commemorates him at 32 Parkside, Mill Hill London.


Damon Graham Devereux Hill, probably my favourite F1 driver of all time he was born
17th September 1960, he has the most incredibly piercing brown eyes which did not go
unnoticed by the promoters, when Damon was concentrating on getting the perfect lap
his eyes glowed with an intensity I have never seen before or since and is the
inspiration for the title of this article.

Just like his father Damon’s first love was motorcycles possibly attained because of his
job as a pizza delivery boy on the streets of London where a person riding a bike has to
keep his wits about him or pay the consequences which could be extreme.

Damon won his one and only F1 World Championship in 1996 and makes him the only
world champion whose father was also a world champion, another unique
accomplishment for the Hill legacy.

I shall touch upon Damon’s route into F1 and unlike some believe it was not an easy
one he did not get a top drive simply by the fact of who his father was far from it to get
there he had to make many personal sacrifices and took many a gamble borrowing
money to the extent that if it had not paid off he would still be paying off his debts to this
day, his family was not rich Betty (Damon’s mother.) was left with colossal debts when
Graham died she made sure that they were all paid which left little for the family to
survive on, Damon worked and worked hard for his career, yes he had contacts but they
were of little help without financial backing.

As I mentioned Damon raced motorcycles but with little success and so in 1981 he
moved into single seater racing, some observers mentioned he was taking the
motorcycle racing line into the corners and that if he did not learn the single seater line
he would never be any good, he never raced karts which some say is a necessary thing
to do if you want to race in F1 but obviously this is not true as he has proven, anyhow he
adapted to single seater and adapted well, he progressed steadily up the ranks and
eventually arrived in Formula 3000 in 1989 he was very competitive but he never won a
race in that series.

Damon eventually signed as a test driver for Williams and was extremely good at it, and
at the same time he was driving for the woefully under budgeted and underperforming
Brahbam’s team.

In 1993 Frank Williams promoted Damon to full race driver an absolute dream drive
and one that was well earned because Mansell was World Champion and had left F1 to go
to Indycars the Williams team were given the numbers 0 and 2 Prost took the number 2
leaving Damon with 0, Prost retired (Again.) at the end of 93 leaving the Williams team
once again with the numbers 0 and 2, this time Senna took the number 2 making
Damon one of only two drivers to drive with 0 as a number the other being Jody
Scheckter and the only man to carry it twice.

In 1994 Damon was teammate to Ayrton Senna who was tragically killed in Imola that
same year leaving Hill with the burden of being just out of rookie school and team
leader, a roll he managed well and only just missed out on the title that year due to a
dubious move by a certain Mr Schumacher in the final race at Adalaide.

1995 was a disappointing year and Damon once again finished runner up to
Schumacher but in 1996 Damon went on to win the championship beating his
teammate Jacques Villeneuve to the title.

Halfway through 1996 rumours started about Damon being dropped for 97 in favour of
Heinz-Harald Frentzen but I believe the decision to not re-sign Hill had been taken long
before the season had started, I base this on something a person I know who was sub
contracted to carry out some work at the Williams factory in January of that year, and it
seems that Damon’s departure was a matter of common knowledge amongst the
people who worked there and according to my source none of them were very happy
about it, when I was given this information I didn’t believe it but sadly it was proven to be

Damon announced that he would be driving for Arrows in 1997 when I heard this I
thought it must be some kind of joke but now I believe he went there as a stop gap to
joining Jordan in 98 Damon had on outstanding drive in 97 in Hungary it is a race I shall
never forget and has been written about quite eloquently by another poster on this
forum so I shall not go into details.

As mentioned 1998 saw Damon driving for Jordan and he gave them their first ever
Grand Prix win at Spa but mid 98 Damon was tiring of F1 and wanted to walk away from
it after he crashed in Canada it took all of Eddie Jordan persuasive skills just to
convince him to stay until the British Grand Prix where he announced his retirement and
he was replaced by Jos Verstappen for the rest of the season.

Damon is married to Susan George (Not that Susan George I’m fairly sure she wasn’t in
Straw Dogs.) she is known as Georgie they have four children: Oliver, Joshua, Tabitha
and Rosie it is Joshua who is my next subject.


Joshua Hill started racing at the age of 13 after visiting the Ascari Race Resort in Spain,
he told his dad he wanted to test himself in motorsport and so for the next two years he
drove in the Club 100 Kart Championship, where he scored multiple podiums and was
placed highly in the standings in both years.

In 2008 Josh entered the Playstation Ginetta Juniors with Tollbar Racing placing 3rd
overall and scoring 10 podiums, he also contested the Ginetta Juniors Winter Series
which he won.

Josh moved to single seaters in 2009 contesting the Formula Ford Championship and
in 2010 in his first full season he was placed 5th overall and scored 5 wins the second
highest that season. Also in 2010 Josh entered the Formula Renault Winter Cup but
only scored one podium.

Next up was the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand where he was named Most
Impressive Driver and came 4th in the New Zealand Grand Prix.

2011 Josh entered Formula Renault UK Championship and took 2 wins after which he
headed back to New Zealand to compete in the Toyota Racing Series again driving for
ETEC Motorsport as well as in the Formula Renault UK Series for Fortec Motorsports;
Fortec has a tradition of producing and nurturing some of the world’s most outstanding
single- seater drivers.

2012 saw Josh racing in the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC Championship where he
finished 3rd overall and took 5 wins the most of any driver in that season.

Josh has taken a roll back with his old team Tollbar Racing (Ginetta.) as race coach he
was also shortlisted for the 2012 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award which was
eventually won by Jake Dennis.

It is Joshua’s burning ambition to make it into Formula One and become World
Champion and judging by the amount of work he has put in so far I believe he deserves
his chance and if he makes it and becomes WDC that really would be the Triple Crown
of Motorsport for the Hills

The Helmet the Tradition.

Graham Hill was a member and a patron of the London Rowing Club he enjoyed rowing
a great deal and it kept him fit which helped with his racing.

His racing helmet was based on the design of the clubs cap, dark blue with white oar
shaped tabs he used this design throughout his career and Damon took the design
when he started racing as has Joshua.

The design is very simple and immediately recognisable when you see it you know
without thinking who the driver is and in this day of drivers seemingly changing helmet
designs after every race I am pleased to see the famous colours back in a single
seater race car and hope to see it once again in F1...
Great article Mephistopheles I'm glad it eas my first read of 2013. You did enter it in the competition right?

I often wonder how different the end of Damon's career would have been if Ron Dennis had gone with his hunch and signed him when he left Williams because he would have been there just as the Newy cars came good and I'm pretty sure he'd have given Mika a better run for his miney than DC did.

As for the tripple crown. A second man could acheive it in 2013. Jacques Villenurve. Lord lets hope not!
I believe Frank sacking Damon was the reason Newey left Williams and moved to McLaren, I also believe that it was the reason Renault left and was a massive mistake on Franks part...
It's interesting that you mention Graham's debts on his death, my grandfather and grandmother were in that circle in the 60s and my grandmother was good friends with Betty. She - my grandmother - was always very bitter about the position Graham left Betty in. Just goes to show that there's a human side to the equation going on before and after the race that's often invisible to the rest of us...
If I remember correctly Graham had let the insurance on his plane lapse, so after the accident there were claims against his estate and that's what took all the money. Very sad time.
Great article Mephistopheles.

As should be obvious from my username and various avatars, it was Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart who got me hooked on F1 in the first place, many moons ago, and I have also been a big fan of Damon.

I still vividly remember the emotional moment at Suzuka in 1996 when Damon became champ. Then at Silverstone in 1997, I was at Club Corner. Damon was in an Arrows of all things and had qualified 12th. On the last lap we caught sight of him coming out of Stowe and passing Shinji Nakano in an ailing Prost to gain sixth place and one point (the last points position at the time). The crowd went absolutely ballistic.

As a fellow Damon/Graham Hill fan, I share your view that Damon's talents and achievements have been much underrated - especially also when you consider the part he played, while President of the BRDC, in securing the future of the British Grand Prix at a time when Bernie seemed hell-bent on killing it off. He has more recently been very impressive as an expert TV pundit as part of the Sky F1 presenting team.

I still have a coffee mug in Damon Hill's helmet colours bought circa 1997. Unfortunately my wife chipped it a few years ago so I don't use it to drink from any more; It now sits proudly on my office desk as a pen holder.

Here's hoping that Josh gets his chance too. It would be fantastic if he could one day make the Hill family triple World Champions.
I was always a HUGE fan of Graham, but even I have to admit that he was not the most gifted driver on the grid. Clark had natural ability to spare, whereas Graham had to work very hard to keep abreast. His pre-race routine involved going over his gear ratios and basically running the entire race to come through his head. His preparation began HOURS before the race started. I also think that he continued driving for several years too long. His death, quite frankly, left me depressed for quite some time. He was the ultimate "working man's" driver.
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