Racers Past – Denny Hulme (1936 – 1992)

 Denny Hulme lived to drive, whatever he could and wherever he could he would race, and perhaps in some ways it was also fitting that he died behind the wheel of a race car, not in a accident but of a heart attack after he had managed to pull the car safely off the road.

The native New Zealander started his career in local hill climbs and was successful enough to win the countries “Driver to Europe” program, which saw him find a place at the Brabham garage while finding early rides with Abarth (at Le Mans) and Tyrrell (in F2). Perhaps it was inevitable that he would get the call to the championship winning Brabham F2 team and from there graduate to the works Formula One team. He made his GP debut at the 1965 Italian GP embarking on his first full season of F1 racing the following year. In 1967 Hulme won the world championship just ahead of his boss and team owner Jack Brabham.

In 1968 he switched to McLaren and although he won several more Grands Prix he didn’t manage to clinch another world title. During his time at Mclaren Hulme became close friends with his team-mate Peter Revson and was devastated after Revson’s death during testing in 1974. Hulme saw out the rest of the season, including a win at the US GP, and then gracefully retired from Formula One racing.

During his F1 career, Hulme also raced at the Indy 500 as well as in the McLaren Can-Am cars (again teamed with Peter Revson).

In the 1980s Hulme returned from retirement to race in the European Touring Car Championship as well as at the Australian classic, the Bathurst 1000. It was during the 1992 running of the Bathurst 1000, on October 4th, that Hulme suffered a heart attack while behind the wheel of a BMW M3.  After veering into the wall on the left side of the track, he managed to bring the car to a relatively controlled stop on the opposite side of the course. When marshals reached the scene they found Hulme still strapped in but not breathing.

Denny Hulme was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1998.

The 1967 German Grand Prix at the classic Nurburgring – Won by Denny Hulme.

2 Responses to “Racers Past – Denny Hulme (1936 – 1992)”

    1. Bill Burton January 19th, 2007 at 5:04 am

      Denny was… and is… my hero. I was lucky enough to meet him (very briefly) and get a few autographs.

      I wish that the columns he wrote during 1970 were available.

      He made history, and was a gentleman, a character, and a great driver… and a great man.

    1. Wayne Treloar July 4th, 2007 at 2:43 am

      I lived in the same town as Denny, Te Puke. I can remember Friday nights outside the local milk bar, Denny and his TF with his buddy, last name Norris with his white TF100. I also remember when he obtained his cooper climax and tested it on a local straight-a-way, the Bear. He was my hero and will always be.

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