Phil Hill: A Driving Life

Though he’s best remembered as the first American Formula One championPhill Hill on cover and a three-time Le Mans winner, Phil Hill (1927-2008) also enjoyed a long career as an automotive writer. Hill was a regular contributor to Road & Track magazine, writing vivid, first-person accounts of his experiences driving everything from the earliest horseless carriages to the most modern road and race cars. Phil Hill: A Driving Life gathers the best of these stories, each of them accompanied by dazzling photographs from Hill’s friend and colleague John Lamm.

The book starts with the very first car, a three-wheeler built by Karl Benz inHill in the Maserati 250f 1886. From there it’s on to a classic Packard touring car from 1915, the first-ever MG, the revolutionary rear-engined Auto-Union D-Type, and many others. Several chapters find Hill reunited with cars that played a significant role in his racing career. From the 1950s there’s the Jaguar XK120 that gave him an early win at Pebble Beach in 1950 and the Maserati 250F that he drove in his first Grand Prix at Reims in 1958. A decade later there are the FordHill driving the Chaparell GT40s he helped develop, 1963’s ill-fated ATS 100 Grand Prix car, and the unique, high-winged Chaparral 2F that yielded his last professional victory at Brands Hatch in 1967. And there are also Phil’s recollections of other great drivers he drove with and against, including Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, Olivier Gendebien, and Dan Gurney.

Whether he’s writing about a rare vintage race car, a hard-fought victory,Hill in the ferrari or an old friend, Phil’s essential qualities of intelligence, curiosity, and integrity always come through. Phil Hill: A Driving Life provides a unique perspective on automotive history from a true champion.

I could use many words here to relate one simple fact: You need this book.
—Vintage Racecar

About Phill Hill

Born in Miami, Florida, Hill was raised in Santa Monica, California,Phill Hill winning Italian GP where he lived until his death. He studied business administration at the University of Southern California from 1945-47 where he was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. Hill left early to pursue auto racing, working as a mechanic on other drivers’ cars. Hill began racing cars at an early age, going to England as a Jaguar trainee in 1949 and signing with Enzo Ferrari’s team in 1956. He made his debut in the French Grand Prix at Reims France in 1958 driving a Maserati.
That same year, paired with Belgian teammate Olivier Gendebien, Hill became the first American-born winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans [4] with Hill driving most of the night in horrific rainy conditions. He and Gendebien would go on to win the famous endurance race again in 1961 and 1962.

Hill began driving full-time for the Ferrari Formula One team in 1959, earning three podium finishes and fourth place in the Driver’s Hill winning LeMansChampionship. In 1960 he won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, the first Grand Prix win for an American driver in nearly forty years, since Jimmy Murphy won the 1921 French Grand Prix. The following season, Hill won the Belgian Grand Prix and with two races left trailed only his Ferrari teammate Wolfgang von Trips in the season standings. A crash during the Italian Grand Prix killed von Trips and fourteen spectators. Hill won the race and clinched the championship but the triumph was bittersweet. Ferrari’s decision not to travel to America for the season’s final round deprived Hill of the opportunity to participate in his home race at Watkins Glen as the newly-crowned World Champion. When he returned for the followingphill hill in a ferrari season, his last with Ferrari, Hill said, “I no longer have as much need to race, to win. I don’t have as much hunger anymore. I am no longer willing to risk killing myself.”

After leaving Ferrari at the end of 1962 in the great walkout of engineers, he and fellow driver Giancarlo Baghetti started for their new team ATS. Hill continued in Formula One for a few more years until he switched to sports car racing with Ford Motor Company and the Chaparral Cars of Jim Hall.

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Thanks  David Bull Publishing and Phill