Mann’s memories reminded me of a couple of typical Graham Hill stories. As the Le Mans-type starting echelon was being arranged at Sebring in 1966, Graham and Jackie Stewart were to share one of Alan’s GT405. Graham was due to take the start but affer the mechanics had lined up the car with door ajar and first gear engaged, and the clock was ticking down, Graham could not be found. Jackie began to fuss about getting togged up to start in his place. And as Alan recalled: At the last second, and with perfect timing, Graham appeared at the far end of the line of drivers, walking calmly up towards the number three spot on the line. On the way he stopped and shook hands with everybody. His perfect English manners could not be faulted, and his rivals’ concentration was immediately lost. Just as he got to his spot the flag was dropped and Graham was away. At the end of the first lap he came around with a massive lead.”
There’s also a story, which I’m pretty sure is apocryphal, that while Graham and Bob Bondurant were wrestling with borrowed spanners to extricate Jackie Stewart from his crashed and crushed BRM affer their opening-lap incidents in the 1966 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, Graham tried to cheer up his semiconscious team-mate, trapped there in a cockpit bath of leaking petrol, by remarking: “Don’t worry, lad. If it goes up we’ll toss in some potatoes. It won’t be wasted.” Timing that’s the key.