Name: Denny Hulme
DOB: Jun 18 1936
Place Of Birth: Nelson
Nationality: New Zealand
Most Races For: McLaren - 86
Denny Hulme was born on 18th June 1936 in New Zealand. After he left school to become a mechanic in a garage, Hulme saved up enough money to buy himself a MG TF, which he used to enter in trekking events. After impressing sufficiently, he was chosen for the New Zealand driver to Europe program. Once there, he worked as a mechanic in Jack Brabham's garage in Chessington, and thus started his foray into professional racing. After participating in several non-championship events for Brabham, Denny got the break he was looking for, being called up to race for the Brabham F1 team in the 1965 Monaco Grand Prix. Finishing 8th in his debut race, he raced for another five GPs, finishing a best of 4th position in France.
1966 was his first full season in Formula One. Finishing on the podium four times, his best being a 2nd place in Great Britain, he ended the season 4th in the Drivers’ standings. For the 1967 season, the New Zealander stayed with Brabham Racing. It was the year he won his first, and only Drivers’ Championship. Winning his first ever race at the year’s Monaco Grand Prix, Hulme managed to better his team mate’s and defending champion Jack Brabham’s challenge for the title, piping him in the points tally by the end of the season, to seal the championship in the last race of the year.
In 1968, the World Champion moved to fellow Kiwi Bruce McLaren’s team. It was the team he would race for up unto the end of his Formula One career. In his seven seasons at McLaren, Hulme never had the machine to successfully challenge for the title. He managed to win six races and secured many more podiums over the years, but he never went higher than 3rd in the standings. In 1974, during practice for the South African Grand Prix in Kyalami, Hulme’s friend Peter Revson was killed in a crash. After the accident, the former world champion announced that he would honour his contract for the 1974 season, but would retire from Grand Prix racing afterward. Despite winning the Argentine GP, Hulme never made much of an impression that season, and quit the sport as he said he would, at the end of the year.
A man who disliked fame and celebrity status, Hulme was one of the most understated champions of the time. Known as the ‘Bear’ for his rugged features and gruff nature, he had a smooth and incisive driving style, which saw him win the much coveted championship. While taking part in the Bathurst 1000km touring car race in Australia in 1992, Denny Hulme suffered a massive heart attack, which proved to be fatal, becoming the first former Formula One champion to die of natural causes.
-Rohhan A Divanji
- Denny Hulme was the 1967 New Zealand Sportsman of the Year.
- In 112 Grand Prix starts, Hulme had only one pole position.
- In 2002 he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
“Bruce used to like meeting people. He managed to cope, even when they were asking the most ridiculous questions, whereas my natural reaction was to think ‘What a bunch of idiots we’ve got here’, and either tell them so or not talk to them at all. But that’s just the way I am. Bruce could spend the whole night entertaining people and this is how he made lots of friends. He was the same with the press. He always had the time to talk to them. I’ve never been able to do that. For certain people in the press, yes, but for most of them, no. There’s probably only half a dozen that I can sit down and talk to, but the rest of them, I feel they should do their homework and find out what it’s all about”
– Denny Hulme
Most successful drivers to have raced with Denny Hulme