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Graham Hill Indy Speech


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#1 xkssFrankOpalka

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Posted 27 March 2004 - 05:09

I hear that Graham Hills Indy Victory Banquet speechwas very interesting, Anyone know what he said or where the speechcan be found?

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#2 Vicuna

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Posted 27 March 2004 - 11:27

I only know what he's alleged to have said to Jimmy Clark after the race - about drinking the milk when JC suggested that he might have won...........

#3 David Birchall

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Posted 27 March 2004 - 17:49

Originally posted by xkssFrankOpalka
I hear that Graham Hills Indy Victory Banquet speechwas very interesting, Anyone know what he said or where the speechcan be found?


Didn't he ask them to put doors on the toilets? Or was that Brabham :lol:

#4 lanciaman

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Posted 27 March 2004 - 18:38

Originally posted by xkssFrankOpalka
I hear that Graham Hills Indy Victory Banquet speechwas very interesting, Anyone know what he said or where the speechcan be found?


It was very different from the usual. Hill was straight-faced and ribald. He said (more or less)"When they called me from Indianapolis and said I had a car to drive in the 500, I naturally asked what it was. I was told it was 'The American Red Ball Special.' (long pause, John Cleese-like expression, the place broke up.) And said I'd have to think about it."

Graham was smart and articulate and droll, and not to take anything away from our American drivers, but Clark and Hill and Stewart and Chapman were foreign and entertaining and the public ate 'em up, a kind of motorsport Beatlemania.

I know of no extant recording but if anybody had one it would be WIBC Radio. Donald Davidson is the one to ask and he can be reached through the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 317.481.8500 or USAC 317.247.5151.

#5 JB Miltonian

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Posted 27 March 2004 - 18:51

I'd love to hear the content of Graham's speech. I found this brief quote in "Sports Car Graphic" magazine's report on the race:

"A few minutes later, that master raconteur, Graham Hill, chief recipient of this year's quota of USAC's Foreign Aid, and one of the more ribald public speakers of our time, came to the podium. Hill left a great many of the $10 a plate banqueters feeling as if one of the last bastions of Midwest solidarity had been breached. Not only had his humor left them wondering if they had heard what they thought they heard, but he was leaving that green and rolling country with $156,297 worth of something they held in some regard....money!"

No mention of what he actually said, unfortunately.

#6 Buford

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Posted 27 March 2004 - 20:13

I was there at all the victory banquets when he spoke. After the first year when he won and blew everybody away with his humor, the following years a buzz of anticipation took place when his turn came up. Everybody would adjust their chairs, sit back, and were prepared to be entertained. Most of the other drivers were not very entertaining. We knew Graham Hill would be. I think the first year he told the story about how much he enjoyed Indy and all but the lack of doors on the toilets was uncivilized. After that they had doors.

The one that is legendary ("left them wondering if they had heard what they thought they heard") was this one. Yes he would stride to the mike with a smug look and accept his money and then like the other drivers would thank the people who needed to be thanked. But then he would do about a 5 to 10 minute comedy routine mostly nothing about racing that would have the place roaring. The year he really did it (and remember this was the 1960s and the times were a changing and this was in the Midwest cornfields where change was getting some serious resistance). After about 5 minutes of comedy he paused, the smirk even more pronounced, and then he said, “In conclusion I have just heard of a new male birth control pill. You put it in your shoe and it makes you limp.” He then turned and limped off the stage and the place went up for grabs and people were falling over with tears running down their cheeks. The laughter went on for at least 5 minutes. People just didn’t say stuff like that in “mixed company” in those days.

Seems kind of lame now but this was the cornfields in the mid-1960s and Graham Hill was like nobody we had ever seen before.

#7 dolomite

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Posted 27 March 2004 - 20:15

Funnily enough I was just re-reading the following only the other day. In his Team Lotus Indianapolis book Andrew Ferguson gives this account of Graham's speech at the 1967 prizegiving dinner:

"...it was Graham's turn, and he opened by thanking Lloyd Ruby, the last place finisher, for saving him from going from first to last in one swift year; he also apologised to those fans who had stood up as he went by each lap, saying 'I know him'. 'They must have been as embarassed as I was,' he said. The he gave a humorous discourse on Indianapolis in general, with comparisons of his winning year with the disastrous one now over. This was followed by a selection of excellent jokes, some sufficiently blue to stun the more puritan members of the essentially conservative Mid-West 'Bible Belt' audience. His performance was more a music hall turn than a speech, and when it came to an end a long time after he had got to his feet he received warm applause from those who had understood what he had been talking about. His speech had lasted 20 minutes longer than his race, and was a performance still remembered by members of the audience many, many years later."



I certainly would love to hear a recording of that!

#8 lanciaman

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Posted 27 March 2004 - 20:16

Originally posted by David Birchall


Didn't he ask them to put doors on the toilets? Or was that Brabham :lol:


I recall it was Hill and he embarrassed Tony Hulman into putting doors on the loos the next year.

I also seem to remember Hill arriving very late to his car late on the grid, because he was relieving himself, but yesterday's announcers couldn't suggest anything of the sort. This may have been an adjunct to the toilet stall door story....

#9 D-Type

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Posted 27 March 2004 - 20:55

IIRC The 'toilet doors' was in a TV interview rather than his victory speech.

And before GH gets blamed, it was Masten Gregory who, having been advised that he should start with an empty bladder in case he needed surgery, who shocked rhe establishment by turning his back to the crowd and christening the pit counter before getting into his car. Or so I have read somewhere (not on TNF!).






Sorry Frank, the second para belongs on one of Joe Fan's threads, but I'm too lazy to look for it.

#10 Buford

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Posted 27 March 2004 - 21:14

He may have made the toliet door reference in a TV interview but he also said it at the victory banquet because I was there and I heard him say it.

#11 D-Type

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Posted 27 March 2004 - 21:49

:blush: Correction accepted.

#12 rmhorton

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Posted 27 March 2004 - 22:57

Then, of course, there was his suggestion that they - the Brits - were putting up a cup to be awarded to the highest placed American finisher...

#13 Ray Bell

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Posted 27 March 2004 - 23:18

His speeches were well-received at the Tasman Cup series presentations too...

Not so well, perhaps, by the staff of the Chermside Caravilla... but you get that.

#14 oldtimer

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Posted 27 March 2004 - 23:53

Slightly OT, but I saw the Graham's Indy win live at a cinema in England (can't remember what technology was used). Amongst some memorable moments was Graham plating a huge plonker of a kiss on the Miss Indianapolis, or somesuch, provided to add some glamour to the winning ceremonies. Fair took her breath away, and that of some of the onlookers, judging by the expressions on their faces.

#15 xkssFrankOpalka

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Posted 28 March 2004 - 01:20

Thanks everone for your kind replys, very interesting.

#16 Doug Nye

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Posted 28 March 2004 - 17:13

Graham was indeed remarkably good value as a speaker, raconteur and general wit - but his public persona was in many, many ways masking a very much darker, very much less attractive personality underneath.

But some of his comic invention was truly brilliant. At Jack Brabham's Ford-sponsored farewell dinner in London at the end of the 1970 season Graham put up a bravura performance, part of which went something like this:

"John Cooper offered me a drive in one of his works F2 cars at Brands Hatch, alongside Jack and Roy Salvadori. He asked me 'would one hundred pounds be all right', and I swallowed and thought 'Bloody hell! Fantastic!' - I'd never seen that much money in one place before, so I just swallowed, tried to act natural and said 'Oh, well yes that seems acceptable...'.

"Then when practice began, Jack and Roy told me, 'We'll try all three cars first, and then you can go out in yours later in the session'. And I found myself sitting in the pits almost all day while they ground round and round trying to work out which car was best.

"Then at last they said, 'there you go Graham - off you go, that car's yours..."

And Graham ended the story, absolutely straight, stoney-faced:

"And do you know? They were ABSOLUTELY right...".

The less attractive Graham got himself shot down by one of the BRSCC's secretaries at Brands Hatch before a BOAC '500' race. After an embarrassing paperwork screw-up the previous year all drivers were required to sign-on each separate day of the meeting. Graham objected like merry hell to this and was in the Clerk of the Course's office bawling out Nick Syrett's secretary when Nick (CofC) happened to come in the door behind him.

Graham was totally unaware of Nick's presence and had also woefully misjudged the feisty secretary at whom he had chosen to deliver his rollicking.

"This is absolutely unacceptable!", he roared at her, "I've raced all over the world and I've never EVER been required to sign on more than once - I don't know who you people think you are..." etc etc.

At which the secretary - whose name I forget, sadly - snapped shut her file of paperwork, looked up and bawled back:

"RIGHT!! Now that is QUITE enough of this bloody nonsense from YOU!

"I am SICK and TIRED of graceless, ill-mannered, tosspot F------ racing drivers like YOU!

"You bloody drivers come poncing in here thinking the whole world owes you a f---- living - you don't give a single solitary moment's thought to the time and effort and enthusiasm and care and commitment that we as race organisers devote to providing the stage upon which you can strut your stuff.

"You love it when you can show off in front of your adoring fans out there, but you NEVER appreciate you wouldn't have the chance to do any such thing if it wasn't for people like us, working every hour God gives us for your f--- benefit!

"And then you draw your totally unwarranted bag of gold and f--- off in your f---- aeroplanes and never spare another thought for what the organising clubs have done for your benefit!

"And now you're getting out of your f---- pathetic little pram merely because we ask you to sign your f---- name more than once?????!

"Frankly I'm surprised a twot like you is even capable of signing your f---- name, never mind driving a f------- car!!!".

Graham was absolutely gob-smacked, and stumbled back as if he'd been shot.

The back of his neck went bright red and he roared:

"How DARE you talk to me like that??? I'm going to report you. I'm going to have you fired!!! W-w-w-what's your NAME???!!!".

And she shot back instantly "Christine Smith!" - or whatever it was, sorry I can't remember, and then added the KILLER blow:

"WHAT'S YOURS?".

In the doorway, overhearing all this, Nick Syrett nearly wet himself.

DCN

#17 rdrcr

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Posted 28 March 2004 - 17:18

:rotfl:

THAT is one priceless, F------ story!

#18 Teapot

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Posted 28 March 2004 - 19:48

Originally posted by Doug Nye

Graham was indeed remarkably good value as a speaker, raconteur and general wit - but his public persona was in many, many ways masking a very much darker, very much less attractive personality underneath.



I've never heard about this "Dark side of Graham Hill" thing before! Very interesting stuff...I'll be glad if someone could add some more informations.

Since I'm "only" 24, all I know comes from magazines and books, and every time they refer to him as a real gentleman and a really nice and funny bloke...so this is a completely new point of view for me (maybe only the sad gaze you can see in Graham's eyes in many photos made me suspect something in this way).

Thanks in advance!

#19 Vitesse2

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Posted 28 March 2004 - 21:21

Teapot: seek out a copy of Tony Rudlin's book "Mr Monaco". It's not a great read: uncomfortable in places, inaccurate in others, but it does give a flavour of Graham's private persona.

While he was alive, a documentary film maker attempted to dig the dirt on Graham - he came up with a big fat nothing, since his friends and neighbours were very loyal to him. Now, I suspect, they are very loyal to Bette (whom God preserve) :up: ...

She keeps herself very private these days, but did give an interview to Bernie's now-defunct magazine. Frankly, it was a hatchet job on both her and Graham and in the following issue they published a very spirited letter from her which alleged (IIRC) that she had been seriously misled about the purpose and ultimate slant of the piece. I think it drew a sort of apology from Tom Rubython, but I suspect that it has biased her against any contact with the fourth estate. A great shame, since I'm sure she has a great story to tell ....

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#20 petefenelon

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Posted 28 March 2004 - 21:41

Vitesse2:

I think it drew a sort of apology from Tom Rubython

Something of a first, then... I am dreading the Rubython book on Senna. I just don't want to give the guy any of my money.

#21 Vitesse2

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Posted 28 March 2004 - 22:25

I did say "sort of", Pete! It was along the lines of a Motor Sport acknowledgement of an error of fact in an article ... :rolleyes:

#22 Ray Bell

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Posted 28 March 2004 - 22:52

When you think about it, Graham had to have a dark side...

Think about it... he did his apprenticeship in the shadow of Stirling Moss, Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorn... while Tony Brooks was also on centre stage...

When he came out of that apprenticeship, he had the dreadful BRM unreliability to contend with, then all the others were gone as BRM came good. Terrific... this was his chance!

And up comes Jim Clark to make his life a nightmare...

#23 Buford

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Posted 28 March 2004 - 23:48

And with all that he had time to win the World Driving Championship, the Indianapolis 500, The LeMans 24 hours, found a F1 team, and father a future World Champion. And he made us laugh too.

#24 Ray Bell

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Posted 28 March 2004 - 23:59

No wonder Rob Walker put him on the payroll when Colin pushed him out the door...

#25 xkssFrankOpalka

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 03:50

Very interesting posts, is it true that Graham Hill originally was a race car mechanic and worked his way up the ladder to driver?

#26 Zippity

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 04:08

I understand that Graham Hill was the guest speaker at one of the early "Sportsman of the Year Award" Dinners here in New Zealand.

His speech was meant to have been broadcast on Radio New Zealand, but was withheld due to his use of "colourful" language. :):)

I wonder if there is a copy of his speech buried in the vaults of RNZ?

#27 petefenelon

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 09:07

Originally posted by xkssFrankOpalka
Very interesting posts, is it true that Graham Hill originally was a race car mechanic and worked his way up the ladder to driver?


Pretty much - Graham did quite a lot of wrenching to pay for/scrounge his early drives, and spent several years both working and driving for Lotus - he was also a director of Speedwell. Read his autobiography Life At The Limit. It shows how Graham worked (and occasionally charmed, and perhaps once or twice conned!) his way to the top.

#28 ian senior

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 10:15

I'm a bit put out by all this talk of GH having a "dark side". The arguments put forward here don't suggest to me that he had anything like what I understand to be meant by this term. It conjures up the thought that there were positive undertones of evil - not just unpleasantness. I have no problem at all with Graham, or anyone else for that matter, being irascible, foul mouthed or manipulative on occasion. If this is balanced out by a mostly sunny disposition and an ability to attract respect for ones achievements, it just goes to show that the person in question is human, fallible and has some semblance of a personality. Which is more than can be said for some of today's sports "personalities".

#29 Macca

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 10:16

NGH worked hard at his career in every way, not only at the driving but also at making and cultivating contacts and at the non-driving aspects such as speech-making. As well as noting down all the settings and adjustments from every race, practise and test-session in his little black book, he also noted down every joke he heard for future use.

I know he used the line to start after-dinner speeches "This is the second time today I've risen from a warm seat with a piece of paper in my hand", though not necessarily at Indy.

When he went back to Lotus he suffered from being still thought of still as "Graham who used to be a mechanic here", although he had moved onward and upward. Jim Clark was glad NGH joined Lotus in 1967 because, as he said "Colin's raised my money to the same as Graham's!", which relates to another thread about salaries; Lotus weren't the greatest payers and NGH had a good wage at BRM, as well as travel expenses.

He was the complete professional and a worthy world champion.


PWM

#30 oldtimer

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 19:01

Originally posted by Macca

He was the complete professional and a worthy world champion.


PWM


Amen!

#31 Mac Lark

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 19:48

Originally posted by ian senior
I'm a bit put out by all this talk of GH having a "dark side".


The story Doug told us was hilarious. But has DCN only just given a taste of the darker side.

I can't imagine Doug was have referred to the darker side unless he had very good reason.

#32 Doug Nye

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 20:30

Don't read too much into my passing 'dark side' comment - we are all complex personalities, Graham was NOT all sweetness and light and good humour - and neither am I, nor I would suspect are many of you??? The human animal is a complex being, in a complex world...and some operate under pressures far more intense than others.

DCN

#33 Jesper O. Hansen

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Posted 30 March 2004 - 12:11

Originally posted by Doug Nye

The less attractive Graham got himself shot down by one of the BRSCC's secretaries at Brands Hatch before a BOAC '500' race. After an embarrassing paperwork screw-up the previous year all drivers were required to sign-on each separate day of the meeting. Graham objected like merry hell to this and was in the Clerk of the Course's office bawling out Nick Syrett's secretary when Nick (CofC) happened to come in the door behind him.

Graham was totally unaware of Nick's presence and had also woefully misjudged the feisty secretary at whom he had chosen to deliver his rollicking.

"This is absolutely unacceptable!", he roared at her, "I've raced all over the world and I've never EVER been required to sign on more than once - I don't know who you people think you are..." etc etc.

At which the secretary - whose name I forget, sadly - snapped shut her file of paperwork, looked up and bawled back:

"RIGHT!! Now that is QUITE enough of this bloody nonsense from YOU!

"I am SICK and TIRED of graceless, ill-mannered, tosspot F------ racing drivers like YOU!

"You bloody drivers come poncing in here thinking the whole world owes you a f---- living - you don't give a single solitary moment's thought to the time and effort and enthusiasm and care and commitment that we as race organisers devote to providing the stage upon which you can strut your stuff.

"You love it when you can show off in front of your adoring fans out there, but you NEVER appreciate you wouldn't have the chance to do any such thing if it wasn't for people like us, working every hour God gives us for your f--- benefit!

"And then you draw your totally unwarranted bag of gold and f--- off in your f---- aeroplanes and never spare another thought for what the organising clubs have done for your benefit!

"And now you're getting out of your f---- pathetic little pram merely because we ask you to sign your f---- name more than once?????!

"Frankly I'm surprised a twot like you is even capable of signing your f---- name, never mind driving a f------- car!!!".

Graham was absolutely gob-smacked, and stumbled back as if he'd been shot.

The back of his neck went bright red and he roared:

"How DARE you talk to me like that??? I'm going to report you. I'm going to have you fired!!! W-w-w-what's your NAME???!!!".

And she shot back instantly "Christine Smith!" - or whatever it was, sorry I can't remember, and then added the KILLER blow:

"WHAT'S YOURS?".

In the doorway, overhearing all this, Nick Syrett nearly wet himself.

DCN


So John Cleese and Connie Booth didn't get all of their influence from a Torquay hotellier after all! :rotfl:

Jesper

#34 D-Type

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Posted 30 March 2004 - 22:38

Originally posted by Doug Nye
Don't read too much into my passing 'dark side' comment - we are all complex personalities, Graham was NOT all sweetness and light and good humour - and neither am I, nor I would suspect are many of you??? The human animal is a complex being, in a complex world...and some operate under pressures far more intense than others.

DCN

From the foreword to The Glory of Goodwood where Charles March tells of how at the age of about ten he was collecting autographs at the Easter meeting party

There was one time whenI went up to a driver whose name I hadn't yet collected. He said "You don't want my autograph, young man - I'm not famous enough. You want that chap's over there". And he propelled me over to Graham Hill, who was holding forth to a group of guests. I didn't, in fact, want his autograph because I already had it. But Graham looked down at this small boy with his plastic autograph book and said , simply "Bugger off"


I think that it is incidents like this that Doug is referring to.