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Phil Hill 1927 – 2008

Submitted by on September 2, 2008

Phil Hill, the 1961 World Champion and first and only native born American to win the title, has passed away due to a short illness resulting from complications of Parkinson’s disease.

Hill contested 48 grands prix between 1958 and 1966, claiming the 1961 Formula 1 World Championship for the Scuderia. He won three F1 races, all for Ferrari, with two of those victories coming at the Italian Grand Prix.

The American also won the Le Mans 24 Hours driving for the famous Italian marque.

Hill drove the famous shark nose Ferrari Tipo 156 (the “156” designation stood for the 1.5 litre V6 engine), to victory in 1961 defeating Wolfgang von Trips and bringing the Scuderia their first constructors championship.

However Hills victory was tainted with huge sadness. Their title showdown took place in an ill-fated Italian Grand Prix at Monza. On the second lap the von Trips Ferrari touched wheels with the Lotus of Jim Clark and cartwheeled into the crowd, killing von Trips and 14 spectators.

Hill won the race, and the Championship by a single point over his dead team mate. But there was no joy for the sad victor, who was a pallbearer at von Trips’ funeral. Hill: “I never in my life experienced anything so profoundly mournful.”

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