Remembering Motor Racing’s First Lady, Bette Hill
The laudable life of a wonderful woman was recently recalled, when the motor racing world bid a sad farewell to Bette Hill, the wife of one world champion, and the mother of another.
Hill’s Selfless Work in a Troubled Era
In a number of ways, Hill was the First Lady of motor racing, thanks to her steady support for her husband, Graham Hill, and the altruistic work she undertook helping other wives in years when tragedy intruded frequently, sometimes weekly.
The 29th of November 1975 saw Bette become a sufferer herself, when her husband’s Piper Aztec was involved in a collision in fog while he was returning from a test session which took place at Paul Ricard, an accident that killed the two-time world champion, along with Tony Brise. Brise was a remarkably talented protege of Hill’s, only 23-years old, who had started as a student of Graham Hill’s after the latter retired from the cockpit in the summer of that year. The accident also claimed the lives of four other members of the F1 team.
Five Funerals in Just One Week
As David Tremayne, the F1 journalist who will be well-known to punters who make use of Australian betting apps to enjoy the racing, recalled during one of the many moving tributes to Bette on Friday, she had to attend five funerals in one awful week. The sixth was on the very same day of her husband’s service. Graham’s took place at St Albans Abbey.
Legal Action Against the HIll Estate
The loss of her adored husband and the task of raising Damon Hill and his two younger sisters became even more difficult when it was discovered that certain paperwork was invalid. This resulted in members of the five other families affected having no option but to bring legal action against the Hill’s estate.
Parties Replaced with the Attempt to Regroup
Bette’s life changed in every single way possible, in the blink of an eye. The wild whirl of parties and personalities popping in stopped at once, and the Hill family was forced to attempt to regroup under the severely straightened circumstances they then found themselves in.
A Tower of Strength
Not only did Bette survive this sad and difficult period, she also dealt with a son, Damon, who had decided to race motorbikes. The only intervention his mother made was that she motivated him to switch to motor racing instead -something which has turned out quite well!
A Custodian of Her Son’s Reputation
Mrs Hill took it upon herself to become the keeper of her boy’s reputation, something which saw a strongly-worded postcard arriving at the desk of any journalist who criticised him in print. This went up a notch in November of 1994:
Bette reported her rage at Murray Walker saying that Michael Schumacher was a great sportsman after his so-called win of the Adelaide title in 1994 after he intentionally crashed into Damon Hill. She said that Schumacher’s style that day was not admirable, and that if her or her sisters has sulked because they had lost, or weren’t happy with how they had won, their parents used to say that if you couldn’t win honourably, then you shouldn’t win at all.