Friday, December 4, 2015

Fine Phil Hill Film

This film is well-worth 20 minutes of your time.  Phil was one of the most thoughtful and introspective drivers of his (or any) time: multi-dimensional, deep.  And the film has the added advantage of him looking back on his career after he retired.

The film suggests that Phil just rocketed into his Formula 1 drives because he was so good.  This is not true.  Enzo Ferrari considered him "just" a good sports car/endurance race driver.  Phil had to buy a couple of drives in Formula 1 cars in 1958 (in a Maserati, which must have irked Enzo) before he was offered a full-time Grand Prix ride in a Ferrari in 1959.

I was 16 years old in 1961 when Phil won the World Championship.  We road racing snobs on this side of the Atlantic considered it remarkable than an American could beat the best Europeans at their own game.  Others had tried (notably Carroll Shelby and Masten Gregory); only Phil had pulled it off.  He paved the way for other Americans into Formula 1 (notably Dan Gurney and Richie Ginther).  Little did we suspect that Phil would be America's only World Champion for 17 years, when Mario Andretti repeated his feat in 1978.  They remain America's only World Champions, and it has been 37 years since Mario did it.  Several Americans have tried, all have failed.

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