Before we Begin … By their very nature, these are large books, jam-packed with Phil Hill’s fabulous period photography and with his personal commentary accompanying each image. On the rare occasions he gave friends or enthusiast gatherings a slide show of this material, he would initially stand diffidently by the projector and begin to talk – at first quite haltingly – over every shot. Typically, he would quickly gain confidence that he wasn’t boring everyone “with all this old stuff”, and then the anecdotes would tumble out … and time would start to fly. Phil’s ‘voice-over’ commentary to his photography is what we have tried to reproduce in the pages that follow. His incredibly rare photographs are presented in effectively chronological order, year by year, with a broad-brush introductory text – first to each year, then to each specific event. For the really determined reader we hope you enjoy the cover-tocover reading approach, missing not a page if you can find the time to start such a long trek, but essentially these volumes are designed to be dipped into, absolutely anywhere. The introductory information provided should then, hopefully, enable the reader to pick up the thread of Phil’s life at almost any point – where he was at the time, and what he was seeing, doing, thinking and even feeling. To achieve this aim there is some repetition between year and event introductions, and in the occasional caption. Obviously there is also some repetition with the companion Racing Autobiography volume. But we just felt that this ’dip-in’ characteristic was the right way to go. Our objective all along has been simply to celebrate Phil Hill’s life and career – his extraordinary talents, and his simple humanity – by producing the finest World Champion Driver book there has ever been (or that there is ever likely to be). The achievements were Phil’s, the inevitable errors are mine, but here we are – mission, we hope, accomplished. Doug Nye Farnham, Surrey, England
HIL HILL WAS AN ABSOLUTELY LIFELONG MOTOR-CAR enthusiast. His indulgent Aunt Helen had been a great car buff, and one day in 1939 she paid $40 to buy the 12-year-old a Ford Model T. He began to drive immediately, much to his authoritarian exNavy father’s absolute horror: “He warned me not to drive on public streets, but I had an alternative …
“At Military Academy I’d met George Hearst, grandson of the publisher William Randolph Hearst. He also owned a car, which he drove on a dirt track on his family estate in Santa Monica Canyon.” Further influences followed. “One winter night in 1940, I’d seen my first motor race – midget cars at the banked Gilmore Stadium in Los Angeles. “Meanwhile I’d begun earning some pocket money, working part-time in local gas stations … I spent the proceeds on old cars, on which I became a self-taught mechanic. I went to a few embryo hot-rod meets on the dry lakes, and helped prepare some of the cars, though I did not compete. One of the guys I met … was Donnie Parkinson, who would later marry my sister, Helen. His father was a wealthy enthusiast and he introduced me to motor-racing literature, lending me two books by the British writer Barré Lyndon – my introduction to a world which, for me, had an absolutely absorbing attraction … “In 1944 I began work at the Douglas Aircraft Company in Santa Monica, assembling Browning turret guns. I began a Business Administration course at the University of Southern California, at the same time as a friend, Jerry Hanes, and we ordered a new Ford each from the Santa Monica agency. Mine was a Convertible … my first new car … and I was very proud of it. “Then it was George Hearst – again – who provided an alternate way ahead. A mechanic named Rudy Sumpter was looking for
a gofer to help him run an Offenhauser-engined midget race car, owned by Marvin Edwards of Hollywood Spring & Axle. I met Rudy, got hired and, in June 1947, I joined him as a full-time mechanic’s helper. “I just loved the work. I had an identity. And at last I was doing something I found I loved … Marvin and Rudy’s driver was Gib Lilly … When he didn’t win he was always near the front. Rudy worked hard to keep that midget car competitive. I kept my eyes open, watched, and learned. I cleaned, and fetched and carried, and enjoyed every single minute of it. If I could revisit any part of my entire racing life again, that’s the period I’d most enjoy … “Because of the tensions at home, I was living with Aunt Helen most of the time, but since I began staying out real late with the midget racing team, I also had a room at Rudy Sumpter’s … through 1947-48. I didn’t get to race the midget, but increasingly I felt the urge to have a go in something. I had been reading more and more about European-style road racing. I was taking the British weekly magazines, ‘The Autocar’ and ‘The Motor’, and it was in them that I first read about the new British sports car – the MG TC, and then came the memorable day when I actually saw one of these new imports … “To earn better money than I could make from tagging along with Rudy … I’d begun work as a mechanic at Simonsen Schackmeyer, the Packard agency on Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica. I was dining one night, right across the street from work, when this little green TC just drove up outside … “The owner went into some place nearby and I left my meal to look it all over. Just a few days earlier, George Hearst had told me they were selling these new cars at International Motors, in Beverly Hills. So I went over to try an MG just like the one I’d seen. I met Louis van Dyke who was one of the partners with Roger Barlow, and he took me out for a demo ride. When we got back to International Motors my mind was made up. I wanted one and my ’46 Ford Convertible had to go. What’s more, in November 1947 I ended
Hollywood movie star Clark Gable was a great car guy, and a frequent customer of Roger Barlow’s International Motors. Here at a Douglas facility 1951 sprint in El Segundo, that’s Roger (left) and Gable with me in Roger’s great little Simca Special. He built two of them from Fiat parts, running one in ’51 and the other in ’52. They were light and agile and, despite only 1200cc, became regular 1500cc-class winners.
Some of the British books about international road racing, first published in the 1930s, which Phil read so eagerly and which he always said shaped his entire life.
“… I ENDED UP IN THE TOP 12, WHICH EARNED RUDY DECENT START MONEY … I INSTANTLY ASSUMED I’D BEEN GIFTED SPECIAL SKILLS AS A DRIVER, BUT POOR RESULTS … INDICATED OTHERWISE.” Rudy’s contemporary midget car driver Doug Grove then broke a leg in a crash at Carpinteria: “Rudy asked me to qualify the car for the main event at San Bernardino, around August, 1949. I’d never so much as warmed up the midget before. Almost the first thing I did was spin, before beginning to get the hang of it … but I ended up in the top 12, which earned Rudy such decent start money he gave me the drive in place of Doug … I instantly assumed I’ d been gifted special skills as a driver, but poor results soon indicated otherwise. I felt sure the much-repaired car just wasn’t right, while Rudy insisted it was absolutely perfect. So we called it quits …” Having tasted success with the MG, Phil then set his heart on a brand-new Jaguar XK120: “International Motors was
developing its Jaguar business, and Roger Barlow offered to sponsor my taking a comprehensive service course at Jaguar, MG, RollsRoyce and SU Carburetters in England through the winter months of 1949-50 … spending three to five weeks at each. I made great friends and contacts, learned a bunch … and saw Grand Prix cars race for the first time, at Goodwood and Silverstone. “In February 1950 my new Jaguar XK120 was ready for me to collect. I took it back with me via New York and the Indy ‘500’, where I met up with my friend Richie Ginther, and we drove back home together in it …” Phil would race the XK120 three times: at Carrell Speedway; on the Naval air station at Santa Ana; and finally at the inaugural Pebble Beach Road Races. Up against Roy Richter’s new AllardMercury V8 at Santa Ana, he finished second and realized “… my Jaguar just didn’t have enough horsepower”. He and Richie modified and lightened the car radically and, in November 1950, Phil won the inaugural Pebble Beach Cup race with it – a really big deal, which earned him great acclaim as a rising talent … His first ‘full’ season of race driving followed, in 1951. He began by competing one last time: “… in a Californian mountain rally in my XK120. Then I sold it so I could buy a 1938 Mille Miglia Alfa Romeo 8C-2900B. It was a supercharged 2.9-liter straight-8. In one way it was a huge leap forward – in another a huge leap into the past …” and he would smile at the memory as much as at this assessment. “What a fabulous car it was. I’ll never forget one night my brother Jerry and I drove it north to visit a friend stationed at Point Mugu. The coast highway was deserted at night in those days and we used the whole road width, both lanes. One time a dog ran across the road and I took evasive action, threw it sideways and slung it this way and that, and we went right on without any uncontrolled
up as a mechanic at International Motors Inc, and owner of a shiny new MG TC. I was almost as elated by that as when Aunt Helen had indulged me with that shiny Model T Ford …” With the MG, Phil began to compete in local rallies and time trials, then in a track race at Carrell Speedway, Gardena, where he’d helped run the Sumpter midget. He began winning regularly, but felt bad about it: “… despite having earned up to $500 a night, I’d learned so many car preparation tricks from Rudy Sumpter, it just seemed an unequal contest, like shooting fish in a barrel …”
WAY FROM AMERICA’S GREAT OVAL SPEEDWAYS SUCH as Indianapolis and Daytona – and the more celebrated road circuits such as Watkins Glen, Laguna Seca and ‘Road America’ at Elkhart Lake – perhaps the most evocative venue title in American motor sport is Pikes Peak. This 14,115-foot – 4,302-meter – pink-granite mountain towers into the sky just west of Colorado Springs in El Paso County, Colorado. It was named in honor of American explorer Zebulon Pike and its title was officially simplified from Pike’s Peak to just plain Pikes Peak in 1890. Phil was amused by the pickiness of omitting the apostrophe. A rough, narrow and boulder-strewn ‘carriage road’ was constructed to the summit as early as 1888. On July 17, 1913, William Wayne Brown drove his Buick Model 10 race car, ‘Bear Cat’, 20 miles to the summit. The adventurous drive took him 5 hours 28 minutes, but it wasn’t until 1915 that Colorado Springs entrepreneur Spencer Penrose and his associates supposedly put $500,000 into building the full-width Pikes Peak Highway.
PIKES PEAK – PERHAPS THE MOST EVOCATIVE VENUE TITLE IN AMERICAN MOTOR SPORT. Spencer Penrose then promoted the first Pikes Peak Hill Climb on his new road in 1916, Rea Lentz becoming the first Penrose Trophy winner with a time of 20 minutes 55.60 seconds. The great climb would become a qualifying round in the AAA and USAC National Championship series from 1946 to 1970. Phil competed there in Basil Panzer’s Allard in 1950, and then returned just to spectate and take the exceptional series of photos presented here in 1951.
RIGHT Perhaps the finest view in the motor-racing world? After having seen the tiny little garden-path hill-climb course at Prescott in England, Pikes Peak just re-wrote my entire perspective on what some called ‘uphill racing’. The Peak towers over 14,000 feet into the Colorado sky, and from up here the skyline’s maybe 50 to 60 miles away. The September air was chill, and we could hear a climbing car way, way before it would come into sight …
LEFT The Le Mans pits were allocated by engine size, with the 5.4-
liter Chrysler-engined Cunninghams 1, 2 and 3 at the head of the row, followed by this pair of similarly powered, enveloping-bodied Allard ‘Le Mans’ models. No 4 was for Syd Allard himself and Jack Fairman, No 5 – glimpsed here with its hood raised – for Frank Curtis and Russianderived Belgian-American Zora Arkus-Duntov, creator of the Ardun overhead-valve conversion cylinder heads for the Ford V8s. At General Motors he later co-created the Chevrolet Corvette. RIGHT I was interested to see the latest works Aston Martin DB3s and
they were backed by two customer DB2 coupes, this one entered and driven by its owner, Nigel Mann and the veteran pre-war racer, Mort Morris-Goodall. They would be forced out of the race after 16 hours. The dynamo had been jury-rigged after a bracket had broken, but it stopped charging and the battery went flat. A close look at this shot reveals all kinds of fine detail, like the easy-access hatches cut into the hood and triple windscreen wiper set-up. There’s even a cuddly-toy elephant mascot mounted just beside that nearer spotlight on the nose. Notice the stone damage to that front valance and at the back of the wheel arches? This was a high-mileage racer even before the 24 hours began.
CIRCUIT DE LA SARTHE FRANCE
RIGHT BELOW The Aston Martin factory entered two new DB3s – this roadster and a coupe – with a couple of privately entered DB2 coupes in support. This is the DB3 roadster shared by British industrialist Dennis Poore and pre-war racer George Abecassis. ‘Gorgeous George’, as the Brits called him, was a flamboyant character, a real racer, and a good talent spotter. He had given Stirling Moss, Peter Collins and Lance Macklin their first Grand Prix drives in his own HWM team from 1950 through 1952. And it was Macklin’s recommendation which led HWM and Aston Martin to adopt Italy’s latest Weber twin-choke carburetors.
LEFT For me this was the real eye-popper at my first Le Mans. The works
Mercedes-Benz racing team seemed to be everything I had ever read about it: ordered, efficient, run with almost military precision by team manager Alfred Neubauer. Here their three tailor-made 300SL Gull-wing coupes stand ready for their drivers: No 20 is for Theo Helfrich/Norbert Niedermayer and will finish second; No 21 will win, co-driven by Hermann Lang/Fritz Riess; while No 22 will provide the team’s only failure, out after nine hours with electrical problems, co-driven by Karl Kling/Hans Klenk. It’s surprising how dull these cars look without that side molding featured on the later production Gullwing coupes – it really made a difference in visual appeal. But had this prototype model gone into production, International Motors was poised to import them. It was weird at the time to look into the engine bay, see the engine lying on its side and the space-frame chassis tubes apparently wandering all over … though there was real structural reasoning behind every single one of them.
BELOW Lancia’s reputation grew rapidly through the early 1950s thanks to the factory’s sophisticated B20 Aurelia race cars. No 39 here was co-driven by Luigi Valenzano and ‘Ippocampo’, and No 40 by the hugely experienced, and tough, Felice Bonetto with Enrico Anselmi. They finished sixth and eighth overall, on just 2.0-liter V6 engines. These unit-body cars were very well prepared and light, and this was a great result to add to a third place overall in the Mille Miglia. Richie Ginther later drove a B20, and Eugenio Castellotti was another B20 owner. I thought Richie’s was a terrific little car. They built a tremendous reputation even in Southern California, where they were marketed by Bozzani Motors in LA. I remember there were even two of them at SAMOHI – Santa Monica High – my high school.
ELKHART LAKE 1952
ABOVE Hornburg’s C-Type shows off its multi-tubular chassis frame, which is very different from the hefty girder chassis of the stock XK120. There is independent suspension up front and a live-axle at the rear, both with torsion-bar springs. The early C-Types had a supplemental righthand biased reaction arm which we called the ‘Heynes reactor’, and was meant to even out the torque variations on the live back axle, though I can’t vouch for it doing that. It was blamed for obscure road-holding complaints, like my tank slapper in the race. The device was modified or ‘beefed up’ on later models. The body skins were all aluminum and I always liked this really dark Jaguar racing green, the cockpit inner skins finished in semi-matte gray or left in bare metal.
ABOVE Jaguar’s C-Type or, more formally, XK120 Competition was designed and built as a racing car from the ground up, although the 3.4-liter 6-cylinder engine and driveline were all production based. Accessibility with the one-piece hood was fantastic compared with the stock-bodied XK120. At this stage the engines still breathed through two sand-cast SU carburetors. LEFT David Sykes and I came across this special-bodied good-looker,
based on an MG sedan chassis and one of a limited number commissioned by ‘Wacky’ Arnolt in 1950 and 1951.
LE MANS 24-HOURS 1953 RIGHT It’s 4 o’clock, Saturday afternoon, and we hear the patter of running feet as the crowd – and the more excitable pit crews I guess – roar encouragement. I’m shooting up towards the first corner here, the Dunlop Curve. The yellow-clad driver (left) is the Englishman Ken Wharton – aiming for that pretty Frazer Nash Coupe No 39 which he shared with Bob Mitchell. They would finish 13th overall and win the 2-liter class. Beyond the Nash are the two works Bristol Coupes with their distinctive twin tail fins. BELOW The crowds at these early Le Mans races after the war were quite incredible and you could really feel the sense of anticipation as the start-time approached.
CIRCUIT DE LA SARTHE FRANCE
GRAND PRIX DE L’ACF 1953
LEFT This is the grassy field which served as the paddock at Reims. Sherwood
Johnston is posing for my camera with the works Maserati A6GCM to be driven in the Grand Prix by José Froilán González. It will finish third. The small bearded figure making an entry in his notebook is the great Denis Jenkinson – ‘Jenks’ – long-serving Continental Correspondent of the British monthly magazine ‘Motor Sport’. I’d been reading his stuff for some time. As 1949 Sidecar World Champion passenger he understood racing and racers. In 1955 he’d navigate Stirling Moss’s works Mercedes to win the Mille Miglia at record speed. He was a tough little nut. If he thought any of us had done a bad job, he’d say so. I came to like him a lot. The Maserati No 46 would be driven by ‘Toulo’ de Graffenried, to finish seventh. The two-tone gray truck in the background is the Ferrari transporter, and behind it the back of the pits and the grandstand on the other side of the track. LEFT BELOW No 18 here is nothing less than Fangio’s works Maserati A6GCM.
The great man would be beaten into second place in it, on the very last race lap, by the Ferrari factory team’s new boy – young Mike Hawthorn. No 22 in Argentine racing colors beyond was another A6GCM for Onofre Marimón – son of Domingo Marimón, who was a real star of Argentine open-road racing back home. Onofre was pretty much Fangio’s protégé and he showed great promise. There’s bearded Jenks in the background again. RIGHT These Maserati Formula 2 entries – the A6GCM model – were just about the smallest front-engined Grand Prix cars around at the time, maybe apart from the Coopers with their Bristol and Alta engines. No 18 is Fangio’s, No 22 Marimón’s, 24 will be driven by the grizzled old veteran Felice Bonetto and that’s No 20 on the far left for ‘The Pampas Bull’ – José Froilán González.
USAF TROPHY 1953
ABOVE Ken Wharton ran away and hid from Flockhart’s ERA. His V16 BRM set the first-ever 90mph lap at Snetterton and won by over 20 seconds. In 1933-34, Raymond Mays had been instrumental in setting up English Racing Automobiles – ERA. In 1945-46 he had set up its postwar successor, British Racing Motors – BRM. These starring cars at Snetterton were cousins. RIGHT With my background of absorbing everything I could read about racing, I knew the names and reputations of many of the guys in this picture, even though I’ d never met them. This is BRM’s finest greeting their USAF Trophy winner, Ken Wharton. There’s former ERA, now BRM Chief Engineer Peter Berthon in the sun glasses (extreme left), next to Raymond Mays himself (bald head) talking with Wharton. Next to Mays in the white cap is Berthon’s assistant Tony Rudd, with BRM’s stalwart engine mechanic Willie Southcott alongside him in the blue overalls, and I’m told that the character with the moustache and neckerchief (right) is probably Mays’ friend and rabid BRM supporter ex-RAF Wing-Commander ‘Pingo’ Lester.
CARRERA PANAMERICANA 1953
ABOVE Here’s a rare relaxed moment during our ’53 Carrera trip – shot from
our hotel room down into the street outside. The Lancia factory had invested a fortune in winning the race, and had shipped over not only their full team of D24 sports cars but also this magnificent new team transporter. It was widely regarded at the time as being the last word in European factory transport, and here it is at the Mexican curbside, with one of the competing American stock cars and a service hack parked behind.
ABOVE and LEFT Further down the street outside our hotel, here’s the Guiberson Ferrari attracting plenty of attention from the locals. As a national event and a tremendous focus of exotic interest, the Carrera Panamericana really was something special. But Richie and I wouldn’t see much of any hotel. On the night before the start we got barely an hour’s sleep before pitching back into the car at 4am. We had to completely re-jet its carburetors, readjust the floats … and just as we were warming up I spotted that the battery was unfastened; the T-bolts had fallen off and gone. Richie ran the mile into town to find some kind of replacements. He couldn’t. I sent him back again. Meantime, I tried fixing the battery with some fence wire, then the Lincoln boys took off their belts and offered them. I bound it with wire, but touched a terminal and the whole fix melted! We were due to start third, the first car was flagged away – two minutes to go. And in that time I rushed down the line and found Bill Doheny’s 340 Coupe parked there. I tore out its battery frame and retaining bolts, slammed them onto our car and the marshals were waving me forward. Just then Richie returned, panting and on his knees. I dragged him into the car, the flag fell and off we shot …
CARRERA PANAMERICANA 1953 BELOW When the noise and motion had stopped I remember bawling “You OK, Rich?” and Richie confirming he was. The day before we’ d heard graphic stories about the Italian Stagnoli who’ d been burned to death when his Ferrari crashed and burned. We were out of our car like lightning, then once it became plain it wasn’t about to burn we’d pulled out our bags, removed our crash helmets, and began to wonder how and when we might get picked up. We scrambled back up the bank, and found the road covered in skid marks. A soldier told us Fangio had nearly gone off there before we’d arrived. There had been a warning sign, but some thrill-seeker had removed it, then settled down with the large crowd to watch the fun – which we’d just provided. RIGHT We’d been looking around the Ferrari, to see if there was any way we might retrieve it, when we heard another car approaching. There was a tremendous squeal of tires, a roar from the spectators, and ‘BANG’ this Cadillac Series 62 had launched itself off the roadside, flown down ‘our’ hillside and embedded itself just short of the tree we’d managed to roll past on our roof. We said ‘hello’ to Charlie Royal and George Clark, whose Carrera was done for … just like ours.
OR ME, 1954 WAS IN MANY WAYS A LOST YEAR. STARTING with the Buenos Aires 1,000Kms in Argentina, I was troubled by persistent stomach pains. When I was around the cars, my head full of the urge to race, or taking photos, I could forget the discomfort. But as the race itself approached that wasn’t the case. I was becoming a bundle of nerves. I recognized it, but my competitive side just buried it. Darn it – I wasn’t going to accept what I regarded as weakness, much less talk about it with anyone ...”
Phil went into 1954 plainly wrestling still with the disappointment and assumed guilt that he took on for having crashed Allen Guiberson’s Ferrari in his last race of 1953 – the Carrera Panamericana. His photography takes us to Buenos Aires where he (alone) felt under pressure to re-establish himself – and few others ever suspected the tumbling thought processes that so troubled this perhaps too thoughtful man. After he had led the Sebring 12-Hour race in Bill Spear’s latest Ferrari 375MM – only to have its back-axle oil leak away and end their race prematurely – he recalled: “I was really in a worse state than the car. Under pressure I was getting terrible heart flutters. On the grid in Buenos Aires I’d had to get out of the car and walk around to relieve it. I just couldn’t eat anything except the lightest foods – and I began having agonizing stomach spasms. “I finally had to give in, get sensible and visit the doctor. He diagnosed stomach ulcers, aggravated by the tensions I experienced when racing. He told me that if I didn’t quit and adopt a less stressful lifestyle I could hemorrhage – with entirely unpredictable consequences. As in consequences that could be unpredictably bad. “I’d more or less feared as much. I accepted his advice, agreed to quit and – temporarily – it felt like a massive weight had been lifted from my shoulders …” He filled his time at home by restoring, with brother Jerry, the family’s old 1931 Pierce-Arrow which they had effectively inherited from the much-loved Aunt Helen. Although it had
been an immense task – bringing pressures of its own – it had also been deeply therapeutic. In mid-summer Phil felt the itch to race again. He eased himself back in, first by driving a loaned production sports car in a minor race: “I felt like racing again, to dip my toe back in the water. I accepted a real low-key drive in a supporting race – avoiding the main – at Torrey Pines on the 4th July. It was in a humble Triumph TR2. I finished 10th overall, but won my class – and felt OK.” A technical consultancy job with Twentieth Century Fox – running cars they used in shooting ‘The Racers’ starring Kirk Douglas, Bella Darvi and Cesar Romero – helped him rebuild still more. Phil: “That paid interlude was quite enjoyable, and by the time filming ended I was feeling much fitter. Then a letter arrived from Allen Guiberson, in Dallas. He enclosed a photograph of a great-looking 4.5 Ferrari 375, wearing a spectacular headrest fin. He’d stapled a note to the print. It said simply ‘Guaranteed not to cause ulcers’. “I took the bait, and drove it at March AFB, Riverside, on November 7th. I was no longer troubled by ulcer pains. My nerves seemed much better controlled. It felt as if I’d never been away from the race-car scene …” Revived, restored, revitalized – Phil was ready to plunge with even greater commitment into the life of a professional racing driver. Allen Guiberson had taken a flyer and entered his Ferrari in the forthcoming Carrera Panamericana “ for Richie and me”. The California boys grasped the opportunity with both hands – and would perform brilliantly together. “We knew we’d be up against the open-road racing specialist Maglioli with the works’ latest 5-liter Ferrari 375-Plus. He would plainly have a big power advantage on the endless Mexican straight-
RIGHT Sometimes ‘gone fishing’ might have been my best option. For me, 1954 was a pretty horrible year with health problems and my mind in turmoil. But at least it would end well …
“I WAS REALLY IN A WORSE STATE THAN THE CAR. UNDER PRESSURE I WAS GETTING TERRIBLE HEART FLUTTERS.” They led by four minutes at the stage finish in Oaxaca, but got only two hours’ sleep after working most of the night to reline their car’s drum brakes. Next day: “… again we had no answer to Maglioli’s sheer speed. I worked like hell to keep with him but our brakes were fading. By Durango, Stage Five saw Maglioli a full six minutes ahead. “We drew to a stop and as I tried to get out, my door just wouldn’t open. For some inexplicable reason it was jammed tight. I exploded. I kicked it open, then saw Richie was having the same problem. I walked round and yanked at his door. No joy. Richie could easily have just hopped out over the cockpit coaming, but suddenly this became a point of principle. We were both enraged. That dumb door just had to open. No way would we let it beat us. Still it obstinately refused to yield. Totally exasperated we took
a bar to it. Slipped the tool into the jamb, yanked it back and – BANG! The entire tail of the car toppled clean off the back of the frame and crashed onto the ground. “Only the two door pegs had been left retaining the entire weight of the tail bodywork. That BANG! and the comical sight of the tail toppling off the back of the chassis, then the two of us gaping at each other, eyes round as dinner plates, was just too much. We burst into uncontrollable laughter. It was a fantastic release.” With the Ferrari’s tail welded back into place: “… those final stages were super-fast and played squarely to Maglioli’s biggerengined strengths. At Parral we were 10 minutes behind him … The final stage was over 222 miles to the finish at Ciudad Juarez. Richie and I just threw all caution to the winds and went for it. We bettered Maglioli’s stage time by 53 seconds, but he won overall by 24 minutes with us finishing second – to Allen Guiberson’s delight. And our’s too. We had beaten Fangio …” By the time they took that chequered flag in Mexico – second overall to works driver Umberto Maglioli in the latest, greatest Ferrari 375-Plus – Phil was being beckoned by a brighter future … and he was fit enough, keen enough and smart enough to grasp new opportunities with both hands.
aways, but we figured we might be able to tag him back on the more twisty sections through the mountains there. “After the terrible mess we’d got ourselves into the previous year, 1954 was different. We were much better organized. Our reconnaissance on the way down went well, without major hitch. We caught Maglioli in the mountains on the opening Stage and found our 4.5’s acceleration could match his big 375-Plus’s up to around 100mph. I managed to slip by, taking the lead. “Down onto the 15-mile Tehuantepec straight it began to rain. Good news – it would cool the tires. Our engine loved the dense sea-level air and we were holding probably 160mph, maybe more. But then here came Maglioli, just blasting straight past us at maybe 180. There wasn’t a damn thing we could do except wave at him, and look forward to the next mountain section …”
BUENOS AIRES 1,000KMS 1954
ABOVE I was intrigued by the Buenos Aires entry’s variety, demonstrated here. In clockwise order, the young Italian works driver Umberto Maglioli is in the latest 4.9-liter Ferrari 375-Plus Pinin Farina Spider No 10, in which he and ‘Nino’ Farina won outright – No 22 is the Ecurie Ecosse ‘Lightweight’ C-Type Jaguar shared by Ninian Sanderson/Sir James Scott Douglas to finish fourth – No 6 is Shelby’s Cad-Allard J2X in which he and Dale Duncan finished 10th – and No 12 is the unique center-drive 4½-liter Ferrari 375 owned and entered by Louis Rosier for himself and Maurice Trintignant, who’s driving here. They finished seventh. This was nothing less than Rosier’s old ex-works Formula 1 car, which had been modified with this all-enveloping body, enabling him to prolong its revenue-earning life in sports-car competition. He later sold the car to New Zealand, where it was returned to single-seater form and continued racing with local ace Ron Roycroft. RIGHT Streaking down one leg of the narrow dual-track Avenida section, this
is Peter Collins in the works Aston Martin DB3S in which he and Pat Griffith finished strongly, third overall.
BUENOS AIRES ARGENTINA
BUENOS AIRES CITY GRAND PRIX 1954
ABOVE Here are the Ferrari works cars, shot from the roof of the pit building. Car No 10 was driven by ‘Nino’ Farina, only to retire early on, while what is actually No 14 beside it – in the center of the picture here – is Mike Hawthorn’s luckless race leader, with Mike sitting in it. Car No 16 was driven home eighth by Umberto Maglioli, while the blue-and-yellow car No 12 (top right) was the car in which local hero José Froilán González started the race.
BUENOS AIRES ARGENTINA
ABOVE I can’t remember if I looked down into these Grand Prix Ferrari cockpits thinking that one day, that’s where I wanted to be – but to be honest I’d be surprised if I didn’t. Perhaps the truth of it was that I never dreamed I’d ever get so lucky. I just can’t recall, beyond just wanting it. No 14 is the Hawthorn car which looked set to win, only to throw a con-rod on the last lap … with two corners to go. No 10 is Farina’s car which also broke, but earlier in the race. You can see here how roomy they were. There’s a thermos flask strapped into No 10, with a drinking tube in its cap. Mike Hawthorn drove No 14 in both the Argentine and BA City GPs.
CARRERA PANAMERICANA 1954 RIGHT As in previous years, we unloaded the race car and drove it down from Mexico City to the startline at Tuxtla Gutiérrez. It was certainly a handsome car, fitted as it was with the contemporary tail fin and the ‘Continental’ kit, while a Lincolnesque-bulge at the rear allowed us to carry two spare tires. Richie and I took notes, both literally and mentally, all the way down, trying to work out how the route would look when we came back the opposite way … at race pace. As you can see, the Pan-American Highway was not very wide – nor were its edges very well defined. BELOW Our 375’s big drum brakes had survived Stage One OK, but gave out on Stage Two, Oaxaca to Puebla. Richie and I spent most of that night relining them. We got about two hours’ sleep before we took off next morning on Stage Three, Puebla to Mexico City, and this time we won the section, with Maglioli second by 45 seconds. In the next Stage, Maglioli beat us into León by over three minutes after a worrisome noise developed in our differential. At León we realized the lubricant had come out of the differential and found the diff housing studs all loose. It was a frantic quick fix and in typical Mexico fashion we had to be resourceful by securing the studs, wrapping fine steel wool around the threads and double-nutting them to lock them in place. On Stage Five to Durango, Magioli built his lead to six minutes while Richie and I nursed our car along. When we stopped for the night in Durango our doors wouldn’t open. We could easily hop out over them, but the reason they’d both jammed dumbfounded us. We couldn’t let it drop, and used a crowbar, and suddenly the entire tail fell down. The weight of our extra spare wheels over the rough roads had broken the body welds. Only the door pegs had been left retaining the tail. Richie and I looked at one another, and just cracked up. Overnight welding fixed the problem.
LEFT Here’s the place, the Modena Aerautodromo laid out – as it was in the 1950s – on the edge of the growing city. It was uncomplicated but if you got it wrong the high-kerbed ess-bend (lower left) would certainly bite back. This was where Castellotti was killed in 1957. Ferrari engineer Andrea Fraschetti – one of the 4-cam V12 ’s best advocates – also lost his life testing here later that same year, while in 1952 Mike Hawthorn had rolled his Cooper-Bristol straight after driving his first Ferrari test, and in ’53 the Belgian Baron Charles de Tornaco became another victim when he flipped his Ferrari 500. Modena testing had to be treated seriously. LEFT Here’s a scene with which both Richie and I would become so familiar
over the following six years: a sunny day at the Modena test track, a works Ferrari ready to run, add a sprinkling of mechanics, engineers, friends and hangers-on to spectate.
LE MANS 24-HOURS 1955 RIGHT I kept myself occupied just before the race start by taking these photos with my trusty Leica. Here’s our 121LM with its hood open, revealing the twinoverhead camshaft 6-cylinder engine. The car is rigged with that rigid aluminum tonneau cover, fairing-in the passenger side of the cockpit, and a minimum frontal-area wrap-around perspex windshield for the driver. BELOW Our team manager at Le Mans was Maestro Nello Ugolini. He’d run
one of Italy’s top soccer teams, he was well respected and he was very, very business-like. I understood he was called Maestro because he was the master of timekeeping, rather than because he had a formal Italian qualification. He could keep track of a whole Le Mans field with just a couple of stopwatches – he’d just write down the time of day and the information was all there on his timesheets. Here he is poised for the action to begin, with the tools of his profession plus his complementary race program ready on the pit counter. For him it was going to be a long, hard weekend, as long as our last car might survive …
CIRCUIT DE LA SARTHE FRANCE
ELKHART L AKE
EORGE TILP THEN ASKED ME TO DRIVE HIS CAR IN THE Road America inaugural at Elkhart Lake, where the old public road course was being replaced by a superb new four-mile artificial road circuit. The feature race turned into a terrific set-to between Sherwood Johnston in Briggs Cunningham’s latest new ‘Longnose’ D-Type Jaguar, and me in Tilp’s Ferrari Monza. “We went at it from start to finish. Johnston went off the road once and it looked like the whole balance of the thing was going to be shifted in my favor, but he came back and passed me. We just kept going faster on every lap, breaking the lap record again and again – in the end, just to stay in touch, I was almost 10 seconds faster than my best practice time. But I finally got him on the last corner of the last lap – just sort of snuck in there. “He guessed wrong that I would try to pass at one place, so he covered that, which lost him impetus, and I found I had a charge on him. I got into a blind spot on his rear quarter and just kept gaining and gaining, then pulled out and eased by into the lead. If there had been another lap I think I would have lost it again as the D-Type’s aerodynamics would have counted right on the finish line, but as it was I won by inches.”
“WE KEPT GOING FASTER … BREAKING THE LAP RECORD AGAIN AND AGAIN.” Phil’s wonderfully evocative photos from that weekend at Elkhart Lake recall a sun-soaked heyday of 1950s American sports car racing. Phil would add: “Driving the kind of cars we ran in the ’50s was hard work. Certainly after that race against Johnston … I was exhausted. That was partly due to the nature of the track, but also because I didn’t know how to eat properly before a race without upsetting my stomach – so I wouldn’t eat anything at all. That meant a really punishing drive was likely to see me just run out of energy.” RIGHT Calm before the storm – the big sports-racing cars being prepared trackside at the Road America inaugural, Elkhart Lake, on the practice day, September 9, 1955. Car No 7 is an interloper, Ted Boynton’s Maserati A6GCS for the 2-liter race – No 58 is the ex-Le Mans Cunningham-Offenhauser C6R to be driven by Briggs himself, a non-finisher – No 10 is Bill Spear’s Maserati 300S – and No 60 is Cunningham’s new ‘Longnose’ D-Type Jaguar, delivered to him at Le Mans, in which Sherwood Johnston would give me all kinds of trouble in the following day’s feature race. In the background, right – looking rather like a movie-set Fort Apache – is Road America’s soon-to-be-famous timber timing stand.
ELKHART LAKE USA
GRAN PREMIO SUPERCORTEMAGGIORE 1956
LEFT and LEFT BELOW Just being buttoned-up, ready to go, Ferrari 500 Testa Rossa No 65 is the works entry co-driven by Olivier Gendebien/Wolfgang Graf Berghe ‘Taffy’ von Trips. They will finish fourth. From the brown
helmet this looks like Peter Collins trying the car, but this early in his career it might perhaps be Trips. RIGHT This line-up of factory-entered Ferraris in the Monza pits is fronted here by No 64 – the race-winning Ferrari 500 Testa Rossa with Spider Corsa bodywork by Carrozzeria Touring, ‘my’ practice car. Beyond it is the sister car, No 66, for ‘Taffy’ von Trips and Hans Herrmann, who would retire early. ‘Jenks’ is standing there (center) back to camera – a really good guy, brave, dynamic, witty and clever – while in the white cap against the pit counter is Ferrari’s veteran chief mechanic Parenti, and wearing the red shirt is ‘Fon’ de Portago. See the cops? The Monza cops were always just terrible. They were fantastically militaristic and would drag you off to their jail soon as look at you. The German cops at the Nürburgring had been tough, but if you shouted ‘Heil Hitler’ at them, they’d immediately wilt. But at Monza if those cops gave you a hard time and you said ‘Viva Mussolini’, they’ d just hit you harder. They were always throwing out Ferrari’s mechanics, and Mr Ferrari would react by withdrawing his cars. Then the Milan Automobile Club, which organized the Monza races, would end up pleading with him, and he’d tell them to call off the police and they’d have to go and plead with the ‘Capitano’ of police to bail out his mechanics. At Monza it was always a big drama. Once you got used to it, though, it was quite fun – like an operetta.
ROUEN-LES- ESSARTS FRANCE
LEFT The Rouen-les-Essarts circuit was another public road course closed only for race weekends, but with permanent pits, grandstands and spectactor terracing around the course. It wound through a forest and had steep gradients. The big Grands Prix de Rouen sports-car meeting was divided into up-to and over-1500cc races. Here’s part of the smaller-capacity entry for the ‘Coupe Delamare Deboutteville’ in which Lotus 11s would finish 1-2-3 driven by Colin Chapman himself, Cliff Allison and Harry Schell. This is the best opposition the French could muster – the assorted DB-Panhards for Gérard Laureau (No 38) and Carpentier (26), plus Laffargue’s Renault (48), Coopers and Porsches beyond, and the dominant Lotuses extreme right.
Volumes 1 and 2 of the three volume edition on the racing life and photography of Phil Hill, three-time Le Mans winner and American World Ch...
Published on Jul 22, 2017
Volumes 1 and 2 of the three volume edition on the racing life and photography of Phil Hill, three-time Le Mans winner and American World Ch...