Phil Hill

February 9, 2009 by  
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Phil Hill is credited with becoming the first American to become World Champion – yet he was not the flashy, colorful sort of person you would expect such a title to belong to. In fact, Hill wasn’t entirely sure that he really enjoyed racing. An intelligent and sensitive introvert, he openly admitted to having inner demons which plagued him throughout his racing career. Still, despite his mental obstacles, Phil Hill was truly a champion of the sport.

Born in 1927 to a prominent family in California, Philip Toll Hill Junior became an introvert at a very young age. He feared failure and often felt inadequate. He turned to music as an outlet for his problems before becoming absorbed in the world of cars. He received his first car at the tender age of twelve. The Model T Ford was a gift from his aunt and he dismantled it several times before learning to drive it. After dropping out from the University of California, Phil Hill went to work for garage owner who was also an amateur racer. Before long he started racing and in 1951 he was able to purchase a 2.6 litre Ferrari with money he inherited after the death of his parents. Despite his regular wins, Hill was plagued by the dangers of racing – to the extent that he had to stop racing for ten months in order for his stomach to recover from multiple stomach ulcers. When he returned to the track, he was making use of heavy doses of tranquillisers. He always attributed his success to the car.

In 1955 Phil Hill was invited to join Ferrari as an endurance racer. It was a slow start towards his Formula One racing career since Enzo Ferrari hesitated to put him in single-seaters. However he soon started racing Formula One and he won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza after just two years in the driver’s seat. During his entire career, Hill was strikingly candid about his personal demons and emotional troubles. His introspection resulted in some unflattering comments on his personality but for the first time in his life, he was able to leave his inferiority complex behind. Before a race, Hill was nervous and edgy – but as soon as he was behind the wheel he seemed calm and tranquil. He often drove the best on the worst tracks in the worst weather conditions.

Despite his worries about the dangers of the sport, it was something which he was just too passionate about to stop. Thus, after a short period of inactivity, he simply found he had to race again. Things started well but after the tragic accident at Monza wherein his old team mate Count Wolfgang von Trips was killed in a collision with Jim Clark, his career started on a slow downward spiral. He raced for a number of companies before eventually retiring from Formula One and then from racing altogether. In 1971 he married his girlfriend and settled down to start a family. He thereafter led a quieter and happier life, restoring old cars as part of a rather lucrative business. — Phil Hill died on 28 August 2008.

Italian Grand Prix

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Italian Grand Prix is a time-honoured tradition in the world of Formula One motor racing. It is considered to be one of the longest running motor racing events and has been held on an annual basis since September 1921. The first Italian Grand Prix was held at Brescia. However, by the following year the course at Monza – which has since become the home of the Italian Grand Prix – had been built just in time to host the 1922 Italian Grand Prix. Although the Italian Grand Prix has been held at a few other locations over the years, the track at Monza has certainly proven to be the most popular location for the event. In fact, in the more than 80 years that it has been running, the Italian Grand Prix has only been held at locations other than the Monza track on five occasions.

It is interesting to note that the Italian Grand Prix was one of the two races which formed part of the inaugural Formula One Championship races in 1950. Prior to this, the Italian Grand Prix had only operated on a national scale in Italy. The decision to participate in an international race was well supported and the Italian Grand Prix features in the World Championships ever since. The circuit length at Monza is 5.79 kilometres (3.60 miles) in length, and it is lapped 53 times. This means that the complete race measures a total of 306.72 kilometres (190.59 miles) in length. Currently Ferrari is the constructor who has enjoyed the most wins, having taken 18 wins on the Monza track. Michael Schumacher has enjoyed the most wins at Monza with five Italian Grand Prix wins under his belt.

The 2006 Italian Grand Prix was the memorable event of German racing superstar Michael Schumacher’s last Grand Prix race – and Grand Prix win. At the end of the 2006 racing season Schumacher announced his retirement from Formula One racing. Whilst fans mourned the loss of this spectacular driver to the F1 racing fraternity, it opened the way for other excellent drivers to show their skills. Schumacher’s position at Ferrari was filled by Kimi Raikkonen at the start of the 2007 season.

The 2008 Italian Grand Prix was a memorable one for Red Bull Racing as their driver, Sebastian Vettel went down in history as the youngest driver to win a Formula One Grand Prix at the age of 21 years and 74 days. Despite the wet conditions, Vettel led the field for the best part of the race, crossing the finish line 12.5 seconds ahead of McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen. In 2009, Rubens Barrichello of Brawn GP F1 Team took the checkered flag at the Italian Grand Prix. The 2010 Italian Grand Prix is set to take place on 10-12 September, and no doubt fans are waiting in keen anticipation to see who will be victorious this year.

Formula One Tracks

February 9, 2009 by  
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Formula One is a popular sport the world over. Eagerly watched at live events and on TV, F1 is a sport that continues to attract large crowds. Of course, the highlight of the Formula One calendar is the World Championship. Held at Formula One race tracks across the world, top-notch drivers compete for the opportunity to win the title of Formula One World Champion for that year.

Formula One race tracks, or F1 circuits, are specially designed for high-speed racing – and speed is exactly what Formula One Grand Prix is about. Corners have to be carefully set so as to prevent serious accidents, but remain challenging. Certain Grand Prix circuits have been set in the streets of towns such as Circuit de Monaco in Monte Carlo and Spa Francorchamps Circuit in Belgium. Over the years that the World Championship has been held, the F1 circuits hosting the event have sometimes been changed. Some have remained hosts to World Championship Grand Prix races, whilst others have been used for just a season or two.

Each Formula One track is uniquely designed with several turns, curves and straights. Amongst the more challenging are Suzuka in Japan and Nurburgring in Germany. Bahrain International Circuit in Manama of Bahrain is set amidst the sand which was sprayed with a special substance to prevent it from blowing onto the track. The Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola is probably one of the best known in the world, along with France’s F1 circuit of Magny Cours. Other well-known Formula One racing circuits include Australia’s Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne, Silverstone Circuit in England, Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, Hockenheimring of Germany, Hungaroring in Budapest and Canada’s Gilles Villeneuve Circuit in Montreal.

Viewing Formula One racing on television is a popular pastime for many, but F1 is best experienced live at a track. If you live in a country with a nearby F1 Grand Prix circuit, you will be fortunate enough to get several opportunities to watch the thrill of F1. Many make travel arrangements to attend major races at F1 tracks around the world. Imagine yourself standing looking out onto the track, the drivers are pulling up in their stream-lined cars. The engines begin to rev as they prepare to speed off down the road-way. Eventually the tension bursts as the cars race forward. During the race you eagerly watch the top competitors until the final lap comes. Chills shudder down your spine as the team you have been rooting for comes in first place. The excitement, tension and joy of a day at the racetrack is truly not to be missed.

Tracks

Imola

February 9, 2009 by  
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Imola is a picturesque little town in the province of Bologna which can be found on the Santerno river in north-central Italy. For much of the year this ancient Roman settlement enjoys a charming tranquillity that lends itself to romantic getaways and leisurely holidays. Imola is best known for two things – it is the home of the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari and the San Marino Grand Prix. It also unfortunately known as the track where the legendary Ayrton Senna lost his life in 1994. Rubens Barrichello was also badly injured in that very same race.

The Formula One San Marino Grand Prix is named for the nearby independent republic of San Marino but it is held in Imola. The track as Imola was used for the 51st Italian Grand Prix in 1980 and became a regular home for the San Marino Grand Prix shortly afterwards. This Formula One championship race has been run at the Autodrome Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola since 1981. It was named for San Marino as there was already an Italian Grand Prix at the time. Since San Marino is too small to host a grand prix, the decision was made to use the track at Imola and name the Grand Prix after the republic.

Motoring enthusiasts are usually pleased to learn that the area surrounding Imola is home to a number of racing car manufacturers such as Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati. What’s more, a number of local roads have been linked together to form a test track for these manufacturers. This means that bystanders are often given the opportunity to see new and improved models in action as they are being tested on the public roads. Imola has a strong racing legacy and cars have been zipping around the area since 1954.

The first non-championship event with Formula One cars to be held here took place in 1963. However the racetrack at Imola really came into its own when, in 1980, the Italian Grand Prix was temporarily moved to Imola from Monza after a massive and tragic start line pile-up. The following year the Italian Grand Prix was moved back to Monza and the decision was made to launch the track in Imola as the San Marino Grand Prix. Though the track has been incredibly popular during the course of it’s racing career, recent accidents and deaths have brought up complaints of unsafe road-surfaces and other scruples. As a result the San Marino Grand Prix may soon end a long and successful period as a brilliant Formula One Grand Prix host.

The 2010 Italian Grand Prix will be held at Monza.

Jackie Stewart: The Flying Scot – Auto Racing

September 15, 2006 by  
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Sir Jackie Stewart, popularly known as “The Flying Scot“, is one of auto racing’s most distinctive personalities as well as being one of its most successful racing drivers. His unmistakable Scottish accent, high-pitched voice and boundless enthusiasm have made him the model for a host of race broadcasting parodies. In addition to bringing the world of auto racing, especially >Formula One racing, to a wider audience worldwide, Stewart has been a tireless promoter of race safety and driver protection.

Born in 1939 in Scotland in the county of West Dunbartonshire near Glasgow and Loch Lomond, Stewart may be said to have cars in his blood: his father ran a local garage where young Jackie apprenticed as a mechanic and his family were Jaguar dealers. His older brother Jimmy was a promising auto racer who competed in the 1953 British Grand Prix for Ecurie Ecosse (Team Scotland). By 1963, Jackie had been signed by Ken Tyrell to the Cooper racing team, swiftly moving up the ranks until 1965 when he joined BRM’s Formula One team alongside English racer Graham Hill. Stewart won his first race at the Monza circuit in Italy.

Success came quickly for “The Flying Scot”, and by the end of the decade Jackie Stewart had emerged as a force to be reckoned with on the world’s Formula One circuits. Driving his trademark French Blue number 3 Tyrell car, Stewart captured the Formula One Championship title in 1969, 1971 and 1973 when he achieved his record setting 27th victory. With one race to go before reaching the magic number of 100, Jackie Stewart retired from auto racing to become a consultant and commentator. In honor of his many accomplishments both on and off the track, Jackie Stewart was voted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1990 and was knighted by the Queen in 2001.

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