HILL, Graham (1929-1975)
Plaque erected in 2003 by English Heritage at 32 Parkside, Mill Hill, London, NW7 2LH, London Borough of Barnet
GRAHAM HILL 1929-1975 World Champion Racing Driver lived here 1960-1972
The two-time Formula One World Champion Graham Hill remains the only driver in history to have achieved the motor racing ‘triple crown’ of winning Le Mans, Indianapolis and the Formula One drivers’ world championship. Killed in an aeroplane crash at only 46 years old, he stands alongside other great British drivers such as Jim Clark, James Hunt and Jackie Stewart.
Hill moved to 32 Parkside in Mill Hill with his wife, Bette, and their children from Belsize Park in November 1960 and many of his triumphs date from his time here. Of the house – a large detached property of the inter-war period – Bette wrote:
when I walked in I knew it was the one I wanted. It was pretty and had a pleasant atmosphere, five bedrooms plus a study for Graham, and a large garden which backed onto the park.
Number 23 remained the family’s home until their move to Hertfordshire in 1972, three years before Hill’s death in a flying accident with members of his Embassy Hill team. It was the childhood home of Graham’s son, Damon (b. 1960), another world champion racing driver, who unveiled the English Heritage plaque in 2003.
Hill – who grew up at 20 Vaughan Avenue in Hendon – fell by chance into the career in which he would find fame. In 1953 he took up a magazine offer to drive laps in a racing car at Brands Hatch and met Colin Chapman, who offered him full-time work as a mechanic at his Lotus car works in Hornsey. In 1958, at Monaco, Hill drove his first Formula One race for Team Lotus. Two years later he transferred to British Racing Motors, and in 1962 won his first Grand Prix. Later that year, after a tense battle with the Lotus driver Jim Clark, Hill emerged as world champion, the first British driver to achieve this success in an all-British car.
Having finished as runner-up in the ensuing three seasons, he returned to Lotus in 1967 as joint lead driver with Clark. Hill’s second world championship followed in 1968 – an achievement partly overshadowed by the sudden death of his team-mate that April – and he went on to win his 14th, and last, Grand Prix the following year. By the time of his retirement as a driver in 1975, Hill had competed in a record-breaking 176 races, and had also achieved the ‘triple crown’ of the Formula One World Championship (1962, 1968), the Indianapolis 500 (1966) and the Le Mans 24-hour race (1972).