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My Brush with Greatness



It was 1967,  I was just married,  we were flying to Mexico City for the Formula 1 Grand Prix.  

Pamela mentioned to the stewardess (that's what they were called in those days) that we were
on or honeymoon, and she kindly invited us up to a couple of empty seats in First Class, where we
discovered that we were sitting across the aisle from Graham Hill, the reigning F1 Champion. 
(That was obviously before F1 drivers made enough money to have their own private jets). 

I was building motors for racecars then,  and racing an old Lotus in SCCA nationals, which gave me
something to start a conversation about.   Hill was quite friendly,  (he was travelling alone) and
gave me a couple of bits of advise that I never forgot:  one was "crash a lot;  that way you'll learn
how fast you can't go,  and besides (unless you're wealthy, you will learn a lot about fixing and
setting up your car"  and the other was "If you don't scare yourself white on every lap you aren't
going fast enough."

When we got to Mexico City Hill's ride didn't show up, and ours did, so we offered to take him
to his hotel and our old friend Gustavo, twice an Olymic athlete for Mexico, gave him a short tour
of the city,  Hill responded by inviting us to the GP as his guests, with pit passes, an invite to the
drivers' banquet after the race, and introductions.  I still have a photo of Chris Amon twisting his
head almost off sitting in his Ferrari admiring Pamela with her waist-length blonde hair and mini skirt.
Those were the days,  long gone.....
  David P

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