1992 OLDTIMER GRAND PRIX
Denny Hulme, posing with Carlos Ghys. These photographs were taken on Aug 15th. Denny Hulme sadly passed away on Oct 4th
The son of a New Zealand mystic, water diviner and fortune-teller who won the Victoria Cross when fighting with the ANZAC forces in the Battle of Crete in 1941, Hulme grew up on a tobacco farm owned by his grandparents at Moteuka on South Island. After the war the family moved to Te Puke on North Island where Clive Hulme started a trucking business. Denny went to work in garage when he left school and having saved up enough money bought an MG TF and started to take part in hillclimb events in 1956. He made steady progress in racing and eventually acquired a Cooper-Climax with which he began to win races. This resulted in in him being chosen as the New Zealand Driver to Europe for 1960 along with another youngster called George Lawton. Hulme bought a Cooper-BMC Formula Junior and began travelling from race to race in Europe. Lawton was killed in an accident at the Roskildering in Denmark but Hulme went on. The following year he helped to make ends meet by working as a mechanic in Jack Brabham's garage in Chessington and gradually worked his way up the racing ladder. An early break was a factory Abarth drive at Le Mans in 1961 and then in 1962 Ken Tyrrell asked him to race in Formula Junior. That led to an invitation to become a Brabham works driver in Formula Junior. In 1963 he won half the Formula Junior races he entered and that resulted in an invitation from Jack Brabham to join the Brabham Formula 2 team in 1964. Brabham and Hulme won most of the races that year and finished 1-2 in the European Championship.
Brabham gave Hulme the occasional runs in non-championship F1 events in 1964 but as he had Dan Gurney signed up and was racing the second car himself there was no room for Denny. Hulme made his World Championship at Monza in 1965 and scored his first points later in the year. When the Formula 1 regulations changed in 1966 Gurney left the team to start his own operation and Hulme became the team's second driver in F1. The Repco engines proved to be very competitive and Brabham won the 1966 World Championship while Hulme finished fourth. In 1967 he won the Monaco and German GPs and a string of strong finishes took him to the World Championship. He also competed in CanAm with McLaren and finished second in that series and he was fourth in one of Gurney's Eagles at the Indianapolis 500.
At the end of the year he had little choice but to leave Brabham but he was happy to join McLaren. He raced not only in F1 and CanAm in McLaren machinery but also took part in British sports car events in a Sid Taylor Lola T70. That year he won the Italian and Canadian GPs and the non-championship International Trophy. He won the CanAm title with victories at Elkhart Lake, Mosport and the Stardust Raceway and in Britain he won the Tourist Trophy.
The CanAm success continued in 1969 but this time Bruce McLaren beat Hulme to the title while in F1 Denny was only able to win one race - the Mexican GP.
In 1970 Hulme showed his mettle. He suffered serious burns to his hands when his car caught fire in Indianapolis and then McLaren was killed in a testing accident at Goodwood. Hulme proved to be one of the mainstays of the team and despite his injuries he won the CanAm title again and finished fourth in the World Championship after aa string of good finishes but no wins.
The 1971 season was not a great success as the F1 cars were not competitive and in CanAm Hulme was beaten by his new team mate (and friend) Peter Revson but in 1972 Hulme was back in his winning ways in F1 with victory in South Africaand some other good results taking him to thrid place in the World Championship.
He was winning again in 1973 with victory in Sweden but he was overshadowed by Revson. At the end of that year Revson left to join Shadow but early in 1974 was killed while testing at Kyalami. Hulme was there are tried in vain his save his friend's life. After the accident he decided that he would complete the season and then retire. He won the Argentine GP that year and was second in Austria but otherwise made little impact and retired quietly at the end of the season. For a while he led the Grand Prix Drivers Association's campaign for better safety standards, but bureaucracy and Denny Hulme did not mix well and he retired to New Zealand. He returned to racing touring cars in the early 1980s, notaably as a member of Tom Walkinshaw's Austin Rover team in the European Touring Car Championship. When he was not racing he loved to tinker with a collection of steam engines and an old McLaren F1 car which he acquired. He even traced and bought his MG TF and had it restored.
In 1992 he suffered a fatal heart attack while at the wheel of a BMW M3 during the Bathurst 1000 in Australia. He was 56.