This photo was taken almost 60 years ago and the little boy in his christening gown is future Formula 1 World Champion Damon Hill.
The scene, from July 1961, takes place in the Hill family home at 32 Parkside, Mill Hill, London NW7, and is attended by the Dukes of Motor Sports.
Left to right: Bruce McLaren, Sir Stirling Moss, Tony Brooks, Graham Hill, Jo Bonnier, Huschke von Hanstein, and Wolfgang von Trips.
Damon Hill surrounded by F1 royalty at his baptism – left to right: Bruce McLaren, Sir Stirling Moss, Tony Brooks, Graham Hill, Jo Bonnier, Huschke von Hanstein and Wolfgang von Trips
Hill’s father, Graham Hill, won two world championships before his son won the title in 1996
For Damon’s father, Graham Hill, a legendary driver, was World Championship winner (twice), Indianapolis and Le Mans – an achievement that remains unique.
But behind the happy photo of Damon, who is 10 months old, hides the tragic story of the time.
Three of the group died racing and Graham Hill after crashing his plane in the fog on Arkley Golf Course, Hertfordshire, in 1975.
Damon lost his hero, but honored him by becoming the first son of a world champion in 1996 to match victory.
“It’s a poignant picture,” said Damon, now an F1 pundit on Sky. The man behind me is Jo Bonnier, my godfather. My dad won Le Mans in 1972 and the bittersweet thing is that Jo was killed in that race.
Graham Hill tragically died in a plane crash after confirming he was a legend of F1
“To my right is Tony Brooks. He is one of the few people who got out relatively unscathed. He literally decided to quit racing because he wanted to survive. He made a rational decision.
‘Next to Tony is Stirling Moss. It was in Goodwood in 1962 that he had his big shunt. He was unpacking himself past my father. We will never know exactly what happened.
There is an astonishing photo of my dad looking over his shoulder at Stirling passing him at an unabated pace straight into the barriers. Stirling’s career ended. ‘
Hill Snr, as many did, rated Moss as the best of all. And years later, as Damon continued his career on his own initiative, while family finances were badly affected by the death of his father, Moss watched.
Sir Stirling Moss is considered by many to be the greatest of all time, especially Hill Senior
“He was clearly commenting on me as a driver and what he said was highly reported because of his status,” said Damon.
‘You had to uncheck Stirling’s box or you wouldn’t have the right stuff. I think his generation thought the sport had lost some of its upheaval. Stirling called it the spice, or the danger, I suppose.
‘When I look at the picture again, the man looking at my dad leaning over his back is Huschke von Hanstein, a famous part of the Porsche team, and then they all drove sports cars.
Von Hanstein was once an SS officer. It wasn’t until 16 years after the war, but it was forgiven and forgotten in those days.
The name of New Zealand racer and engineer Bruce McLaren lives on with the famous F1 team
He repositioned himself in motorsport and was later a major financier of Michael Schumacher. He was living in old age (85, died in 1996).
“As for Bruce McLaren, unfortunately he died at Goodwood while testing his own car in 1970.”
The New Zealander’s name continues through the Woking-based team of the same name, which has won 12 driver and eight constructors’ titles in F1.
The most tragic of all is the German ‘Taffy’ von Trips. He was killed in Monza a few months later in the terrible accident that killed 15 spectators. The car got out of hand in the Parabolica. So he didn’t have long to live.
Hill took many of the F1 heroes who had befriended his father in his successful career
They were the senior drivers of the day. My father was newer on the scene. But they all went to the baptism of GH’s son anyway. That’s pretty generous, isn’t it? That shows the bond that all those drivers shared with each other. They knew they were in a unique club.
The immediacy of danger is what made drivers stand out in the public eye, more than necessarily their skill. People were impressed by these individuals who were willing to risk their lives.
“Fortunately, it is now less of an honor to show how stupidly brave you can be.” Hill lived in the house for 12 years with his father, mother Bette, sisters Brigitte and Samantha, climbing the road up the road and climbing trees in the park next door.
Tony Brooks is still alive, at the age of 88, the last surviving race winner of the 1950s. The rest of the men crawling around Damon’s little car, including the big Moss, who died on Easter this year, have disappeared.