Former F1 mechanic back in pit to meet Damon Hill

A FORMER F1 mechanic found himself back in the pit lane on Sunday where he was reunited with a racing car he helped to build 50 years ago.

Francis Stephenson, 74, was part of the team that built and toured with Graham Hill’s championship-winning BRM in 1962, the first of Hill’s two Formula One world titles.

On Sunday, BRM held a day to commemorate the 50 years since the championship and had gathered BRM cars to take part in a drive around the streets of Bourne, Lincolnshire.

Mr Stephenson, of Hazel Way, St Ives, was given a BRM book written by Sir Alfred Owen and signed by Hill, at the event.

Hill’s 1962 car was driven by his son, Damon, himself an F1 world champion.

Mr Stephenson worked on the car’s engine and helped with the transportation of the car around the world. He even missed his daughter Sandy’s Christening because he was working.

Sandy Graham, also from St Ives, arranged for her father to visit the pit lane at Sunday’s event where he met Damon Hill.

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She said: “I always wanted to have Damon’s signature in my dad’s book because I wanted it to go full circuit. It was surreal meeting him and asking ‘Please can you sign this because your dad gave the book to my dad’.

“My dad suffers from MS but as they posed for a photograph, he got out of his wheelchair and was sitting on the tyre – it was as if his disability had disappeared.

“Then the person who owns the car was saying he had a problem and didn’t know how to sort it ... and there was my dad telling him how to do it and get more performance.

“He just looked like a young mechanic again, telling people about the engine. It was an unbelievable experience.

“My dad is the only one who worked on that car who is still alive and I don’t think this type of event will ever happen again.”