As per our current Database, Graham Hill died on Nov 29, 1975 (age 46).
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He served in the Royal Navy.
In 1952 he joined London Rowing Club, then as now one of the largest and most successful clubs in Great Britain. From 1952 to 1954, Hill rowed in twenty finals with London, usually as stroke of the crew, eight of which resulted in wins. He also stroked the London eight in the highly prestigious Grand Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta, losing a semi-final to Union Sportif Metropolitaine des Transports, France by a length.
Hill did not pass his driving test until he was 24 years old, and he himself described his first car as "A wreck. A budding racing driver should own such a car, as it teaches delicacy, poise and anticipation, mostly the latter I think!" He had been interested in motorcycles but in 1954 he saw an advertisement for the Universal Motor Racing Club at Brands Hatch offering laps for 5 shillings. He made his debut in a Cooper 500 Formula 3 car and was committed to racing thereafter. Hill joined Team Lotus as a mechanic soon after but quickly talked his way into the cockpit. The Lotus presence in Formula One allowed him to make his debut at the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix, retiring with a halfshaft failure.
Hill married Bette in 1955; because Hill had spent all his money on his racing career, she paid for the wedding. They had two daughters, Brigitte and Samantha, and a son, Damon, who himself later became Formula One World Champion—the first son of a former world champion to emulate his father.
In 1960, Hill joined BRM, he won also in that year on 8 May 1960 the Targa Florio in the class Sports 1600 together with a German driver Edgar Barth in a Porsche 718, and won the world championship with BRM in 1962. He was known for his race preparation, keeping records of the settings on his car and working long hours with his mechanics. Hill was also part of the so-called 'British invasion' of drivers and cars in the Indianapolis 500 during the mid-1960s, triumphing there in 1966 in a Lola-Ford.
At the same time, Hill along with his F1 contemporaries competed in the British Saloon Car Championship, scoring several outright wins. He achieved a best finish of sixth overall in 1961 driving a Jaguar Mark 2.
In 1967, back at Lotus, Hill helped to develop the Lotus 49 with the new Cosworth-V8 engine. It fell to Hill to perform the initial testing of the new car and its engine. After the first shakedown run, Hill quipped "Well, it's got some poke! Not a bad old tool." After teammates Jim Clark and Mike Spence were killed in early 1968, Hill led the team, and won his second world championship in 1968. The Lotus had a reputation of being very fragile and dangerous at that time, especially with the new aerodynamic aids which caused similar crashes of Hill and Jochen Rindt at the 1969 Spanish Grand Prix. A crash at the 1969 United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen broke both his legs and interrupted his career. Typically, when asked soon after the crash if he wanted to pass on a message to his wife, Hill replied "Just tell her that I won't be dancing for two weeks."
Through his racing career he continued to support rowing and London. In 1968 when the club began a financial appeal to modernise its clubhouse, Hill launched proceedings by driving an old Morris Oxford, which had been obtained for £5, head-on into a boundary wall. Hill made three runs to reduce the wall to rubble, and the car was subsequently sold for £15.
Upon recovery Hill continued to race in F1 for several more years, but never again with the same level of success. Colin Chapman, believing Hill was a spent force, placed him in Rob Walker's team for 1970, sweetening the deal with one of the brand-new Lotus 72 cars. Although Hill scored points in 1970 he started the season far from fully fit and the 72 was not fully developed until late in the season. Hill moved to Brabham for 1971–2; his last win in Formula One was in the non-Championship International Trophy at Silverstone in 1971 with the "lobster claw" Brabham. The team was in flux after the retirements of Sir Jack Brabham and then Ron Tauranac's sale to Bernie Ecclestone; Hill did not settle there.
Although Hill had concentrated on F1 he also maintained a presence in sports car racing throughout his career (including two runs in the Rover-BRM gas turbine car at Le Mans). As his F1 career drew to a close he became part of the Matra sports car team, taking a victory in the 1972 24 Hours of Le Mans with Henri Pescarolo. This victory completed the so-called Triple Crown of Motorsport which is alternatively defined as winning either:
Hill set up his own team in 1973: Embassy Hill with sponsorship from Imperial Tobacco. The team used chassis from Shadow and Lola before evolving the Lola into its own design in 1975. After failing to qualify for the 1975 Monaco Grand Prix, where he had won five times, Hill retired from driving to concentrate on running the team and supporting his protege Tony Brise.
Along with Stirling Moss, Hill put his name to and supported the Grand Prix Midget Championship, which started in 1975, with the aim of bringing low cost motor sport to people who wanted to try a new career.
Hill died on 29 November 1975 at the controls of his Piper PA-23 Aztec twin-engine light aircraft when it crashed near Arkley, Hertfordshire, while on a night approach to Elstree Airfield in thick fog. On board with him were five other members of the Embassy Hill team who all died: manager Ray Brimble, mechanics Tony Alcock and Terry Richards, driver Tony Brise, and designer Andy Smallman. The party was returning from a car-testing session at the Paul Ricard Circuit in southern France.
Hill's easy wit and charm helped him become a television personality, notably on the BBC show Call My Bluff with Patrick Campbell and Frank Muir. For a number of years in the early 1970s he appeared as one half of a double act, with Jackie Stewart, as an insert within the BBC Sports Personality of the Year show. In June 1975 he appeared alongside his son, Damon Hill, on the popular television programme Jim'll Fix It. His appearance was later rebroadcast as part of the twentieth anniversary celebrations of the programme in January 1995, with Damon presenting a new segment at the end.
Hill was known during the latter part of his career for his wit and became a popular personality – he was a regular guest on television and wrote a notably frank and witty autobiography, Life at the Limit, when recovering from his 1969 accident. A second autobiography, which covered his career up until his retirement from racing simply called Graham was published posthumously in 1976. A staunch campaigner for road safety, Hill appeared in a television series entitled Advanced Driving with Graham Hill which was shown in early 1975. A book accompanying the series giving advice on safer and responsible driving was co-written by him. Hill was also irreverently immortalized on a Monty Python episode ("It's the Arts (or: Intermission)" sketch called "Historical Impersonations"), in which a Gumby appears asking to "see John the Baptist's impersonation of Graham Hill." The head of St. John the Baptist appears (with a stuck-on moustache in Hill's style) on a silver platter, which runs around the floor making putt-putt noises of a race car engine.
In 1990, Hill was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
A one-off BBC Four documentary called Graham Hill: Driven was first broadcast on 26 May 2008.
Currently, Graham Hill is 46 years old. Graham Hill will celebrate 47th birthday on Monday, February 15, 2021.
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