Spotlight: Graham Hill – A Racing Legend Unlike Any Others (video)

October 16, 2012

It’s a bit of an old cliche to say that ‘things were different back in the old days of F1′, but in the case of top-level/F1 motorsport and, more particularily, the drivers themselves and the people directly involved, nothing could be further from the truth.

The 1960s (and to some extent, the early ’70s) are often regarded as the golden age of motorsport and Formula One for many unique reasons. Most companies and manufacturers involved at the time were small independents and some survived race-to-race in the hopes of winning some prize money to further their livelihood and passion over the coming season.

Jackie Stewart and his earliest mentor, Graham Hill, at Monza in ’67

Comraderie between drivers was commonplace – everyone hung out with one another and most drivers became the best of friends. They all shared a common passion that few people could relate to. It was family, pure and simple as that. Families vacationed together, the wives of the drivers and team-owners assisted by time-keeping and keeping various things in line… It was people helping people that also cared about one another.

Graham and his son, Damon, playing around with reigning F1 world-champion Jim Clark at his home in ’66. Bette Hill threw Graham a party to celebrate his homecoming from America where he won the Indianapolis 500 in a Ford-Lola.

Whether you drove for Ferrari or Tyrrell or Lotus or Brabham, it didn’t matter… You were family. You looked out for one another… and also grieved together whenever there was a loss of life from an accident which, sadly, happened all too often.

Graham in his Lotus 49B during the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort in ’69

One man from that era of Motorsport that seemed to shine in his own irrefutably unique way though, was Graham Hill. If there ever was a man to be labelled ‘a true gentleman’ of the sport, then Graham would easily claim that designation. He was a charismatic, charming, highly-knowledgeable, caring and incredibly talented driver that won the World Championship twice (in ’62 and ’68) and earned the unofficial title as ‘Mr. Monaco’ after winning that Grand Prix 5 times.

Graham ‘Mr. Monaco’ on the cover of Motor Racing magazine in ’68

Last night I was watching a documentary DVD called ‘Jackie Stewart: The Flying Scot’ and during a section of the interview, Jackie took a moment to talk about Graham, and how Graham was his earliest mentor during his formative F1 years in the early ’60s when Jackie was driving 2nd-string below Graham for the BRM team. What struck me was when Jackie said that in all of his years/decades of racing and being involved in Motorsport, never had he known a more intriguing, intelligent, handsome, witty, talented, ruthlessly skillful (he was also a phenomenal mechanic) and charming personality than Hill. He was one of a kind… And, as they say, they ‘broke the mould’ after Graham was born.

Graham, with his son Damon – the only father/son combo to be crowned F1 World Champions

It would be impossible for me to write about all of the amazing stories and various idiosyncrasies that made Graham Hill such a treasured, respected and sorely-missed man. It was such a sad and undeserving end for Graham when his private-plane crashed in ’75, killing himself and all his teammates onboard. Moreso, it saddens me that top-level Motorsport (especially F1) has gradually become the exact opposite of everything that Graham and the drivers/families/teams involved from that golden era represented and genuinely felt, experienced and discovered with one another…

Graham, enjoying one his several lifetime Grand Prix wins…

This well-made BBC Documentary on the life of Graham Hill offers a fine glimpse into the man himself – the sort of man that we’ll probably never see the likes of ever again. Enjoy…

-Blake J.
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Video Tribute: Carroll Shelby and the Cobra

May 15, 2012
As most of you will have probably heard or read by now, we lost an American automotive legend last week – Carroll Shelby passed away resulting in complications from pneumonia… He was 89.

Carroll in the original AC Cobra – the 1962 CSX2000

Responsible for developing the mighty AC Cobra (great feature in last month’s Octane magazine), the Shelby line of high performance Mustangs and lest we forget his heavy involvement with bringing the Ford GT40 to fruition where it swept the limelight away from Ferrari in ’66 by winning Le Mans 1, 2, 3… It subsequently won Le Mans every year to ’69.

The GT40 that crossed the line in 1st place at the legendary 1966 Le Mans

The video below comes courtesy of a ‘Behind The Headlights’ feature/documentary that originally aired on the Speed Channel. At just over 43 minutes in length (edited w/out those annoying US commercials) it comes as an intriguing testament to the die-hard mentality and perseverence of Carroll and all the talented ‘blue collar’ engineers that developed and assisted with the birth of the Cobra from its original, humble British roots to the flame-spitting, Le Mans-entered Daytona Cobra Coupe…
Enjoy… ;)
Rest in peace Carroll…
Also, for those wishing to own a Carroll Shelby-approved ‘continuation’ of the original Cobra Coupe (amongst other ’60s Ford/Chevy Motorsport icons), you simply can’t go wrong in checking yourself into one of the incredibly beautiful (and detail-ridden) examples built by South African-based Superformance. Some tasty examples of their stunning recreations below…

The Superformance Corvette Grand Sport Roadster

Their Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe…

And their exquisite GT40 recreation…

Blake J.
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Video Duel: Remembering The Talented Gilles Villeneuve

May 8, 2012

May 8th, 1982 marks 30 years since the death of Gilles Villeneuve; one of the most-talented and fearless drivers the sport ever witnessed… Here, we bring you a short video-clip tribute narrated by the ever-colourful (and opinionated) Jeremy Clarkson to assist in documenting this incredibly entertaining jousting match (for 2nd place) between Rene Arnoux and Villeneuve at the ’79 French Grand Prix…

 
-Blake J. 
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In Memoriam: Ferdinand Alexander Porsche – 1935-2012

April 5, 2012

Take a moment to doff your cap in memoriam of the passing of Ferdinand Alexander Porsche; the man credited with designing and shaping the iconic Porsche 911.

Born in 1935 and the eldest son of Ferry and Dorothea Porsche, FA (as he was more commonly known) carried the family traditions of ‘good, honest design’ philosophies throughout his tenure at Porsche. It was in 1962, shortly after being appointed the Head of the Porsche Design Studio, that he penned the iconic 911 shape that has endured in its basic form for the last 50 years.

Ferdinand with a scale-model of his legendary creation - the 904 GTS

Ferdinand also acheieved worldwide acclaim for his designs in various industrial accomplishments as well, not least being pens, eyewear, desk lamps, chairs and wrist-watches amongst many others…

The 904 GTS in action

FA also designed the 1962 Type 804 F1 racecar along with the forever legendary (and beautiful) 904 GTS, but the 911 was his shining moment that cemented his vast abilities and talents within the Porsche automotive philosophy and his family’s long-standing tradition of exquisite refinement.

The 1962 Type 804 Formula 1 car

Ferdinand was 76 years old.

Sculpting the 911 in 1962

-Blake J.
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Turbos in F1: Documentary Highlights Its Birth

March 26, 2012

A fascinating 2-part period-era documentary here from the 1980s focusing on the emerging computerized presence in F1. As the narrator aptly puts it – “Gone are the oily rags and the flat-capped amateurs… Here, computers, rubber, metalogy, synthetics, electronics and aerodynamics consume fortunes…”

Many have sustained that it was this exact movement/moment in F1 when the heavy focus on decimal-obsessed, precisional accuracy replaced the ‘fun’ aspect of racing… Few would argue that it definitely signalled the end of an era and the beginning of a new one that resides to this day though.

At nearly 2 hours in length (in 2 parts), it’s a bit of a long-haul, but I cannot stress how interesting this documentary is in exposing the newfound troubles, clashes and endless headaches that permeated throughout the sport in the ’80s when these technologies were new and fresh yet bewilderingly complicated for their creators…

Jean-Pierre Jabouille in the Renault of 1977 - the first-ever (yet highly problematic) Turbo F1 car

Enjoy..!

-Blake J.
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Ferrari F40: Photo Album Of A Motoring Legend

March 13, 2012

2012 marks the 25th Anniversary of the very last Ferrari to be built under the watchful eye of Enzo Ferrari himself. At 90 years of age, Enzo passed away one year after the F40′s official debut in the Summer of 1987, marking the lightweight (1100 kg), powerful (471 bhp from a twin-turbo V8) and strategically bare-bones F40 as a fitting ‘last testament’ to the fuelled passions and race-bred visions of Enzo Ferrari.

There have been countless odes to the F40 over the years, both in print and within this electronic medium, so let’s spare the (albeit, worthy) fanfare for another time and instead focus on the images selected for your viewing pleasure – images that span time from period-era rarities right on up to present-day re-interpretations. In short, a celebration of the iconic F40 supercar that, to this day, still tops the list of many a petrolhead and Ferrari enthusiast worldwide as the most exciting Ferrari ever made…

 

 

The heart of the beast...

 

Just for laughs...

-Blake J.
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Classic 70′s and 80′s BMW Motorsport: A Photo Album

February 28, 2012

The BMW Motorsport Division was a dominant force on racetracks worldwide in the 1970′s and 80′s. Both privateers and the BMW works teams taking chequered flags on a fairly regular basis. Here we present an assortment of mostly rare photos from that exciting era… Enjoy..!

The unstoppable 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile’ having a spit of flame on the overrun.

BMW E21 320 Turbo Group 5 being tended-to in a convenient manner while an M1 Procar sits off to the right and a 3.0 CSL hovers in behind… Nice black-sasquatch boots by the way

E30 M3 leaping its way across the chicane

M1 Procar driven by Hans Stuck

E24 635CSi just stepping out for a dab of oppo…

BMW M-mechanics sorting through their combined wizardry on the 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile’ lump.

The 2002 wide-body racer belching out some flames

Page from an old Alpina brochure showcasing the BMW 2002 and 3.0 CSL racing efforts – look at the dish on those wheels..!

A classic photo from the era – 3.0 CSL flying at the Nurburgring

The 2002 cocking a leg up on the push from the bend

The E24 6-series having a sideways glance towards the corner

M1 Procar advertising one of the oddest-ever combinations of sponsors – Bosch, BBS, Penthouse and Pooh Jeans… The perks must have been outstanding..!

Oh y’know… just a regular Autobahn commute on a Monday morning

Alpina-liveried 3.0 CSL…

The JPS (John Players Special) sponsored E24 635CSi…

Not really a competition-based photo, but who could turn down an Alpina-smothered 2002 on lock…

The 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile’ attacking a bend…

Another one of the E24 635CSi…

E30 M3 braking late for the corner…

E21 320 Turbo Group-5 car clearing some tarmac.

More leaping shenanigans… Not exactly a ‘motorsport’ photo but a classic 2002 pic nontheless

Going slightly off track here again – the T100 F2 car of 1967

The E9 3.0 CSL ‘Art car’ being chased by a Martini-liveried Porsche 911

The M-cars of the 80′s – E30 M3, E28 M5 and the E24 M6

Again, not exactly motorsport-related… but who doesn’t enjoy a sideways M1

In conclusion, how could I NOT include the competition-spec BMW Microcar…!?

-Blake J.
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Photo Album: Essential Porsche 917K Wallpapers + Bonus!

January 16, 2012

There are few factory-derived racecars as tauntingly beautiful and purposely outlandish as the legendary Porsche 917K series. There’s just something about its purity of voilent speed and devilishly analogue nature that *pings* directly at the petrolheaded soul and has you searching for a YouTube fix at 2am…

The Porsche 917 was originally designed as a ‘long-tale’ (917LH) but seeing as how this initial version produced rather sketchy handling at high speeds, a shorter-tailed version (the 917K) was developed to cure the high-speed instabilities at the cost of a slightly lower top speed. Based on the Porsche 908, the 917 was conceived in an alarmingly short time of just 10 months (at great expense to Porsche) and made its debut win at the 1970 Le Mans – the first-ever overall win for Porsche. It followed this win up with a 2nd overall Le Mans win in ’71.

Power came from the monstrous Type 912 air-cooled flat-12 engine that ranged in size from 4.5, 4.9 and 5.0 litres producing upwards of 620 bhp. The dash to 60 would arrive in 2.3 seconds and 125 mph would be achived in a barely-believable 5.3 seconds… (!)

In the sorely-missed original Can-Am series (’66-’74) an insane turbocharged version dubbed the Porsche 917/30 produced well over 1,100 bhp and as much as 1,580 bhp when in qualifying tune… again, (!)

As an added little bonus, here we have a chart documenting every single 917 chassis ever made…

-Blake J.
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Legends: The Porsche 550 RS Spyder

January 11, 2012
  The Porsche 550 Spyder of the 1950′s. Rarely has a purpose-built sportscar rendered so much international acclaim and praise for its ‘Giant killing’ abilities alongside outright victories of some of the most demanding and challenging races (most notably its win in the 1956 Targa Floria) of the era from which it was conceived. But that it was also remembered as being a poster-child for a high-profile (and seemingly, cursed) city-to-city ‘Speed Kills’ campaign in the USA (after movie-star James Dean’s death in his ‘Little Bastard’ 550 Spyder) only further serves to inflitrate the mysterious and legendary effects that the 550 had on not only the racing scene and the general public, but also on the future of Porsche as a marque that had undeniably made its mark on the sportscar scene.
  Only 90 examples were made between October 1952 and June 1956 with the first four cars going to Porsche KG for testing and racing. The first 2 two examples bore removeable hardtops to aid in aerodynamics whilst racing against the other Motorsport leviathans of the time – namely the Jaguar D-types and Mercedes 300 SLRs – and upon the first race of the 1953 season at the Nurburgring (in appalling conditions), the 550 won outright in its very first race. A month later at Le Mans, both cars were entered and won their 1500cc class, ending up 15th overall.
  All 550s were built by hand and saw them borrowing parts from its 356 predecessor and Volkswagen during its build-evolution. Subsequently, each 550 made over the years received gradual improvements and upgrades along the way. Power for those first handful of cars originally came from the 356′s 1500 Super engine that was good for up-to 100 bhp, but eventually the reliably robust type-547 1498cc 4-cam engine, built by Ernst Fuhrmann, would come to readily power the 596 kg lightweight 550 with its larger bore and shorter stroke.
  Eventually, after a couple of years spent refining both the body and the mechanics of the 550, work was commissioned in 1955 to coachbuilder Wendler of Reutlingen, Germany to build 69 road-going examples for privateers, 33 of which would be bound for the USA. The 550 Spyder (renamed from ’550 1500/RS’ to ’550 Spyder’ by an American, for the American market) would continue on with racing success at the hands of such legendary drivers as Stirling Moss, Hans Herrmann and Richard von Frankenberg to name but a few, claiming multiple victories with the 550 during their racing careers.
  The 550 represented Porsche’s proper entry into the world of International Motorsport and was responsible for the introduction of the ‘RS’ Renn Sport (‘motorsport’ in German) moniker that has been attached to every road-going, limited ‘Hot’ Porsche ever since. Yet most importantly, the success of the 550 resulted in the furthering of Porsche’s Motorsport division throughout the 1960′s and onwards which, as we know, laid the foundations for such incredibe creations such as the 917 and 956 racecars of later years. No surprise then that 550 Spyders exchange hands nowadays in the $1-million+ arena… A true legend, it will always be.
-Blake J.
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Photo Album: A Pair of Iconic Porsche 917s

December 28, 2011

It’s the usual end-of-year crawl within the motoring industry – not a lot ‘breaking news’ out there per se. Plus, I think it’s safe to say that we’re all running on the exhaust-fumes from the busy Holidays… So then, what better time than now to simply feast your eyes upon these excellent high-res photos capturing two of the most-iconic Porsche race cars of all time – The Gulf and Martini-liveried 917s.

Enjoy.

I'd be smiling as well...

This wouldn’t feel complete unless I included a favorite movie-still from Steve McQueen’s ‘Le Mans’ film…

-Blake J. 
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