Phil Hill – (1927-2008) a tribute to the American F1 Champion and all round motor racing legend
– Anthony Crawford
If you are not a diehard Formula One racing fan, you could easily get Phil Hill mixed up with Graham Hill, the British Formula One champion of 1962 and 1968.
But Phil Hill remains the only US-born F1 champion to have won the coveted motor racing title, in 1961.
He did so driving the superb looking Carlo Chiti designed Ferrari 156 “sharknose”. Powered by a 1.5-litre V6 pumping out 190bhp – Hill won both the Belgium and Italian Grands Prix.
His death has a personal note for me, as my father had met Phil on a couple of occasions in Europe and talked engines with him.
Of course credit must be given to the only other American driver to win the F1 World Championship (1978) Mario Andretti, but Mario was born in Italy.
Hill remains an American motor racing icon, as not only was he the first American to win the F1 title, but he also took out the overall title at Le Mans in 1958 also driving a Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa.
Phil Hill was a winner and he could drive anything. He won races driving a Ford GT 40, several Chaparrals, Shelby Cobras, Cooper Climax’s and a McLaren M1.
His wife Alma, son, Derek and daughters Jennifer and Vanessa and grandchildren will sorely miss him.