– spinning and stalling on melting asphalt
while leading in France – and left him four
points behind teammate Wolfgang
von Trips prior to the penultimate round at
Monza. Already worried that the German
aristocrat was taking too many risks, Hill
did not appreciate Enzo’s decision to
throw talented Mexican teenager Ricardo
Rodríguez into this combustible mix.
Leading – he felt safer with a clear road
– Hill didn’t witness the violence of the
tumbling crash on the second lap and
preferred to presume that survivable
injuries were the worst of it. They weren’t,
and the euphoria of victory was cut short
by the news: 16 dead, including von Trips.
There could be no joy that day. And Hill
would also be denied a world champion’s
homecoming – a chance to heal and accept
deserved plaudits – by Enzo’s decision to
skip the U.S. GP finale at Watkins Glen.
Weakened by a walkout of key staff,
hampered by industrial action, and dogged
by political controversy, Ferrari slipped down
F1’s order in ’ 62 – and Hill had had his fill.
Desperate to escape Maranello’s
poisonous and increasingly claustrophobic
atmosphere – Hill was forthright without
being brash – he joined the Ferrari rebels
at ATS. Their boasts were a bust,
unfortunately, and his F1 career began to
taper faster than it ought. A lackluster
season with Cooper, also on the slide, killed
it stone dead in 1964. Disheartened, he
turned down a Honda offer for ’ 65.
Thank the Lord for Ford! Calling it a
“switch to sanity,” Hill loved the freshness of
its Le Mans campaign and scaring the holy
crap out of Ferrari with his speed in its
GT40. Sadly it wasn’t matched by reliability.
The same was true of Chaparral. He
scored the Texan marque’s first European
victory in 1966 – hanging from a gullwing
door after the windscreen wiper packed
up in the Nürburgring murk – and also its
last, at Brands Hatch in ’ 67. Between
times he scored its lone Can-Am victory.
Increasingly aware of his sport’s
dangers, he could appear nervy before a
race – “completely absorbed” was how he
explained it – but Hill, who after all had
mastered with familiar aplomb the
left-foot braking technique demanded by
Chaparral’s futuristic two-pedal
arrangement, had much to offer at 40.
Underrated and jettisoned by F1, he was
widely recognized as a genuine sports car
great: a team player with unwavering
focus and unremitting stamina, capable of
individual brilliance if a situation demanded.
Yet no other contract was forthcoming,
and Hill, being Hill, didn’t create a fuss
and “slipped out of it” on a win.
He found numerous other interesting
pursuits, some gloriously quirky, to
occupy his time: restoring classic cars and
pianolas, erudite magazine journalism
and eloquent TV punditry among them.
And though there would be no bumper
sticker campaign on his behalf – he’d
neither raced at The Brickyard, nor
wrestled a NASCAR round Riverside – Phil
Hill would have made a terrific Secretary
of State to Dan Gurney’s President.
32 MAY 2016
(LEFT) A season best
the mass exodus of
Ferrari technical staff
at the end of ’ 62, Hill
drove the ill-conceived
ATS F1 car to zero
points finishes from
five GP starts in ’ 63.
(ABOVE) Hill’s work
with the initially
fragile Ford GT40
in 1964-’ 65 didn’t
bring much in the
way of results, but
laid the groundwork
for its future
Le Mans successes.
(LEFT) The final
race of Phil Hill’s
was also his final
victory: the 1967
BOAC 500 at
sharing the winged
Chaparral 2F with
SPORTS CAR FINALE
“Underrated by F1, Hill was
widely recognized as a sports
car great: a team player
with unwavering focus and