Denny Hulme won the F1 world championship in 1967, after a season-long duel with his teammate, Jack Brabham.
Denny built his success steadily. Once he completed his studies, he specialised as a mechanic in a garage in Te Puke, his birth town. Driving an MG, which he personally prepped, he participated in his first race. His father, well-known for having been awarded the highest English military decoration, the Victoria Cross, supported his son’s sports career and purchased a Cooper-Climax for him.
In 1960, he won the Driver to Europe title and he landed in England. The scarce professional recognitions drove the New Zealander to search for a workplace and he joined the Jack Brabham team. In 1963, he was included as the official F3 team driver. In 1964, he was promoted as an F2 second driver by Brabham.
When Dan Gurney decided to go solo, Brabham offered his place to Denny. Even if he complied with the second driver’s contract, he made himself noticed with several positive results, which were confirmed by the victory of the following year’s world championship.
In the years ’68 and ’70 he was the protagonist of numerous victories in the Can-Am trophies. In 1968, he decided to move on to the team of his fellow countryman, Bruce McLaren. When Bruce passed away at Goodwood in 1970, he committed himself to improve the future of the brand and he succeeded thanks to the contribution by Yardley.
Hulme opened the 1974 season with a victory in Argentina, driving the newcomer M23. He ended the season and he retired to spend time with his family in Te Puke, leaving F1 for good.
Denny was an underestimated champion also due to his taciturn personality, not very inclined towards entertaining relationships with the external world and with the press, that is why he was nicknamed the Bear. He was a pragmatic man, who admitted that he had never been a star player. However, his obstinacy, determination, consistency in his performance cannot be disputed.
He was a polyhedric driver, who continued to race in the GT races, both in Australia and in Europe. It was actually during one of these races, on the Bathurst track, that he had an infarction, on 4th October 1992. His clarity of mind enabled him to stop the car at the side of the track before he fully lost consciousness.