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August 28, 2008 12:43 PM   Subscribe

Phil Hill, the only American ever to be winner of the Formula One Championship, a mulitple time winner of the 24 Hours of LeMans races in 1958, 1961 and 1962, and automotive journalist, has died at age 81.
posted by 1f2frfbf (18 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
-.

(motion blur)
posted by Damn That Television at 12:47 PM on August 28, 2008


Sadly, I can't link to any of his excellent writing at Road & Track, but this quote gives a bit of insight into his writing style:

"I had an amazing amount of luck to race for 22 years and not a drop of blood or a broken bone," Hill once said. Then he quipped: "Maybe I wasn't trying hard enough."

I grew up reading his stories about the golden years of automotive racing and his reviews of automobiles, modern and classic, so among the group of people who share the blame for my lifelong obsession with vehicles of all types and speeds, he holds a place of high honor.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 1:00 PM on August 28, 2008


Also: a very excellent obit from AutoWeek.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 1:04 PM on August 28, 2008


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posted by gyc at 1:19 PM on August 28, 2008


Also to add:

Phil Hill was the only American-born driver to win the F1 Championship. American Mario Andretti also won the F1 Championship, but Andretti was born in Italy.
posted by gyc at 1:24 PM on August 28, 2008


Sad news.

It's the World Driving Championship or "The World Driving Title".

Only Americans call it the "Series Championship" or "F1 Championship". You can guess why.
posted by Zambrano at 1:34 PM on August 28, 2008


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posted by Mitheral at 1:36 PM on August 28, 2008


I was a big fan of his R&T contributions as well.

Not many of his era of racers left, but reading a bio I was struck by his retirement age: 39. It still is a young man's sport as 30 is considered creaky, and 35 is near-senile.
posted by Paid In Full at 1:45 PM on August 28, 2008


The grim story of the 1961 Italian Grand Prix which gave Hill his world championship.
posted by philip-random at 2:20 PM on August 28, 2008


Formula 1 driving on the old Nurburgring
(without the armco railing and other safety measures) takes some brass balls. I can't even imagine the skill it took.

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posted by hellojed at 3:17 PM on August 28, 2008


= ______<__|__\\______~
= [____/ O\______/ O \_}
posted by An Infinity Of Monkeys at 3:27 PM on August 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


. Race In Peace
posted by bz at 3:53 PM on August 28, 2008


I had the opportunity to see Phil Hill race when I was a kid.

He was a class act all the way around. I never heard of him running somebody off the track or blocking or being a hot head.

He was always slightly introverted, and was always really good at looking after his car, and excelled at distance races.

He also had one of my favorite racing quotes:

"If you're going to get into racing, you better get used to loosing. Look at Fangio. Statistically, he's the best there ever was. [This was years before Schumacher] And he only won 3 out'a ten times he tried! So even if you're that good, which I doubt, what your going to be doing most of the time is loosing."

Pretty perceptive for a postman's kid from Southern California.
posted by Relay at 4:19 PM on August 28, 2008


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posted by tomcosgrave at 5:41 PM on August 28, 2008


Sorry to see Phil go.

I love the way modern F1 cars seem to defy the laws of physics, but Phil Hill raced in a long ago world. Back then Americans were still at large, kicking ass in international road racing and the Watkin’s Glen GP was a wide open outdoor festival.

I got to the 1966 race in the middle of the night in a leaky ragtop Sunbeam Alpine in the rain and we found a dry place. Then the sun came up and there were loud Italians, who could have cared less about us, going about their business. We were in the Ferrari pits so we decided to look for someplace else.

We found an old woman in town with a room to let and we jumped. As it turned out she was heating with a coal stove. We got headaches from the coal fumes, and her bed had a feather mattress with a valley in the middle where she had been sleeping for the last ten years... so we kept rolling downhill into one another all night long. But that was before homosexuality, repressed or otherwise had hit the radar, so we were just inconvenienced by something tangentially related to world class road racing.

Race day.

A huge infield party. More Ferraris than you could shake a gullwing Mercedes at. Lots of people in tree-houses, just outside the track having a glorious good time.

I don’t remember who won ( maybe Graham Hill), but it was good practice for Woodstock. As Janis Joplin said, “Scratch a hippie and you find a Porsche.”

In any case, whatever is left of US F1 has lost that but NASCAR, loathsome as it is, still has it.
posted by Huplescat at 5:43 PM on August 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


I don’t remember who won

Jimmy Clark won the 1966 US GP.
posted by philip-random at 6:33 PM on August 28, 2008


Then it must have been 1965. Jimmy Clark was my hero back then, so Iwould have remembered if he won that race. I do remember Dan Gurney being there in, I think, the Eagle.

I have a hideous Smitfraud infection now, so the least is the best I can get away with.
posted by Huplescat at 7:13 PM on August 28, 2008


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posted by Thorzdad at 5:12 AM on August 29, 2008


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