Fire or not, this is only Hulme's second full season in Grand Prix racing and he already has proved himself one of the best. He began driving in his home town of Te Puke (sic, sic, sic), New Zealand in huge lorries owned by his father that carried everything from sugar to sheep along severely rutted roads, and got an education in mechanics fixing trucks that broke down in the dead of night in the middle of nowhere. In 1955 he bought an MG, but with little thought of competitive driving. But after running in a series of slalom, sprint and hill-climb events sponsored by a local car club, he was hooked. He graduated to a single-seater Cooper-Climax, and in 1960 won the New Zealand International Grand Prix Association Driver to Europe award, which gave him passage to England, expenses and no firm commitment to drive for anybody. After a series of ups and downs, he went to work for Brabham in 1962. Jack was just beginning to build his own cars, and by 1966 Denny had progressed so rapidly that Brabham gave him the second car in the Brabham-Repco team. Brabham, of course, won the title, and in Formula II Brabham and Hulme took 12 of 13 races in Brabham cars powered by Honda engines. Their cars were far superior to anything else on the road, but Hulme's orders were clear: let the boss take the checkered flag, which he did.
This year, though, things were a bit different. Hulme won the Monaco Grand Prix and the German Grand Prix (over the twisting, vicious N�rburgring) and, including Sunday's race, piled up an impressive number of points, testimony both to the strength of the Brabham-Repco and Hulme's steady driving.
As clouds gathered Sunday afternoon on Popocatepetl, Mexico City's Mount Fuji, Hulme wondered what the folks back at Te Puke thought of him now. "It's just not in their nature to make a big fuss about me," he said. "And, besides, Rugby and horses are more important."