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Graham Hill

I’ll be honest straight away, I didn’t get this autograph myself, my Father did. Back in the sixties my Dad worked in the building trade and was doing some work at entrance to the pits at Silverstone. Graham was there that day testing a Formula One car, but being unable to remember the exact year I’m not sure if it was a BRM or Lotus. Safety concerns for people back then weren’t the same as they are today, so Dad carried on working at the same time as Graham was on the circuit. Graham thought he’d take advantage of this, so whenever he came in to the pits, he pointed the car in my Dads direction, and drove as close as he could to move him out of the way! Later that day Dad went for a chat with him and to get his autograph, Graham then got a knife, cut off two pieces from one of the cars tyres and gave them to Dad as a souvenir. I still have the pieces of tyre and have included them along with the autograph.

Graham started is racing career quite late by today’s standards, he didn’t take his driving test until the age of 24, but five years later he was taking part in his first Grand Prix, at Monaco driving for Lotus. Before taking up racing Graham took park in rowing, it seems he liked to sit down when taking part in sport. He was a member of the London Rowing club and always wore their colours on his crash helmet during his racing career. After two unsuccessful years at Lotus he moved to BRM in 1960, and finally in 1962 after four years of Grand Prix racing he won his first Grand Prix, as well as going on to win the world championship that year. In 1967 he moved back to Lotus and claimed his second world championship the following year. At the American Grand Prix in 1969 he had an horrendous crash, injuring both his legs. During his recovery in hospital he spent his time writing is autobiography, Life At The Limit, one of the best racing books I’ve ever read.The following year he returned to racing driving for Rob Walker, but he never had the same speed as he did before the accident. After moving to Brabham, he had last victory in a Formula One car at the Daily Express meeting at Silverstone in 1971, he then gave the longest victory speech I’ve ever heard! In 1973 he started his own team, and continued to drive as well as being an entrant. But finally after failing to qualify at Monaco in 1975, a race he had won five times in the past, he decided to retire from racing. As well as taking part in 176 Grand Prix’s, Graham also took part in many other events, and is still the the only driver to have won the world championship, Indianapolis 500 and Le Mans 24 hours races.

On the flight home on the 29th of November 1975, following a test at the Paul Ricard circuit in France, Graham along with five members of his team died when the plane he was flying crashed in freezing fog at Arkley golf course North London.

I did have a couple of chances to get Graham’s autograph myself, which I now regret not taking, as I would have loved to have spoken to the great man myself.

The Mighty Arms Of Atlas

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Vanina Ickx

Vanina is the daughter of Jacky Ickx my motor racing hero, so it’s only natural that I’ve followed her racing career too. Having seen her race LMP1 sportscars, I’ve wondered how such a petite girl can control one of those mighty beasts, but it doesn’t seems to be a problem for her.

Following in her fathers footsteps she has raced at the Le Mans 24 hours seven times, with seventh being her best placed finish driving a Lola Aston Martin in 2011. Vanina has also raced in the Ferrari challenge, Belgian procar, FIA GT1 as well as driving for Audi in the DTM. She has even taken part in the Dakar rally with her father Jacky.

I remember at Silverstone a couple of years ago I saw her in the paddock and said to her, can you please sign this photograph that I took last year. She looked at the photo and replied, it was two years ago, and I looked so young then! For a short while I thought she had remembered me, but later I realised that she she had not raced at Silverstone the previous year, so she’s right it must have been two. Oh well.

The Mighty Arms of Atlas

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Jacky Ickx

Most of us have our sporting heroes, and Jacky is mine. I’ve been lucky enough to have seen him race many times both in Formula One and in sportscars.

I recently tweeted Derek Bell and said it would be nice to see Jacky tweeting. He replied saying, Jacky is to laid back!. A comment that describes Jacky perfectly.

Although he was a winner of eight Grand Prix’s, he is probably remembered more for his success in sportscar racing. Twice a world champion and six time Le Mans winner. His first Le Mans win came in 1969. That was the last year of the traditional Le Mans start, where the drivers lined up, ran across the track, got in to their cars, many without putting there seat belts on, and started to race. Jacky considered this unsafe, so as a protest he did not run across the track to his car, he walked! Winning the race with Jackie Oliver beating the Porsche of Herrmann/Larrouse by about 120 metres after 24 hours of racing. Which I believe is still the closest non staged finish in the history of the race. In 1977 his epic drive through he field in a Porsche 936 to win again, is considered by many to be his greatest ever race.

Jacky also took part in many other races. A one off visit to Australia in 1977 to race in the Bathurst 1000. Sharing a Ford with Allan Moffit, they won of course. Can-Am in North America, winning the championship in 1979. He has even taken part in the Paris-Daker rally, winning in 1983.

The term rainmeister, is often over used, but Jacky truly was. So I’ll finish with this. At Le Mans this year when ex driver and entrant Alain de Cadenet was asked about a memory of the race he replied. Very strange one. Jacky Ickx in a Porsche 936, on slicks in the pouring rain, going past me in my car on deep river wet tyres. How the heck did he do that, it’s impossible.

The Mighty Arms Of Atlas

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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