OCTOBER 21, 1996
Damon Hill - national hero
WORLD CHAMPION Damon Hill has been bowled over by the reaction in England to his title victory in Japan. British Prime Minister John Major and opposition leader Tony Blair both issued congratulatory statements, while the British parliament voted a motion congratulating Hill and the Williams team, and drawing attention to the fact that the motor sports industry in Britain is worth nearly $1.5 billion in exports.
The Times newspaper - traditionally Britain's voice to the world - ran a leader with the headline: "A good win for a good man" and Stirling Moss, the most famous British racer of the 1950s, said that he reckoned that Damon was now a better driver than his father Graham had been.
It is quite likely that Damon will be honored by the government in the New Year with membership of the Order of the British Empire.
When Hill arrived back from Japan he was mobbed by 300 cheering fans at London's Heathrow airport. One fan asked a betting company for the odds it would give him against his seven-year-old son one day becoming the F1 World Champion. The agency offered him 1000/1 and so he put down a $750 bet...
Hill, incidentally, is reckoned to have only 100/1 chance of retaining his World title next year with Arrows. Damon says that with such odds it is worth taking a gamble.
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