Racing Legend Phil Hill Dies
Racing legend Phil Hill recently passed away at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula at 81 years of age due to complications from Parkinson’s disease. The celebrated octogenarian was the first and only US born racing driver to ever win the Formula One international auto-racing championships.
Philip Toll Hill was a memorable racing legend who was born on April 20, 1927, in Miami. He was raised in Santa Monica and started to develop his passion for cars from an early age. At just 12 years of age, he started to drive a Model T Ford that his aunt bought him on the private roads in Santa Monica Canyon. Cars were clearly a life-long obsession for him – one that stood him in good stead in future years. Hill started out his automobile career as a mechanic, but by the mid-1950s he found himself behind the steering wheel in Santa Ana. From there he went on to race in Pebble Beach, Mexico and even Europe. After his long but brilliant journey to the top, he eventually managed to join the Ferrari team and tackle a Ferrari Formula One car. The year was 1958 and it marked the start of the most spectacular leg of an already spectacular career – one which culminated with his earning the Formula One world title for himself.
During his years as a Formula One driver, Hill witnessed many tragic events. Perhaps the most memorable of these was the 1961 Grand Prix in Italy at Monza when German Wolfgang von Trips was killed in a tragic three-car collision that also took the lives of eleven spectators. It must have been a tragic race for Hill since Von Trips was his Ferrari teammate. Nevertheless, Phil Hill managed to enjoy a very successful career without ever suffering a serious injury. He not only won the F1 Championship in 1961, but became a three-time winner of both Le Mans and Sebring. After he retired from competitive racing, he never left his passion and focused on his love of classic cars, pianos and other antique musical instruments. His life as a driver was commemorated in 1991 when he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Hill is survived by his wife, children, step child and grandchildren. He lived a very full life of passion and excitement and will no doubt be remembered fondly by loved ones and fans around the world.