The more in-depth summaries of the life and career of Phil Hill have focussed on three significant aspects: the racing accomplishments, the complex nature of the man, and the fact that he was an underrated driver. Phil died of respiratory complications due to Parkinson’s disease on August 28, 2008. He had intended, in true Hill tradition, to be at Monterey but had ended up in the hospital instead. His strong link to motor racing had been emphasized not only by his attendance at so many historic events worldwide, but also by his active participation until very recently. Those of us who saw him at the Monaco Historics in 2004, driving the Alfa Romeo 6C 3000CM which he put 2nd on the grid, were totally astounded by the performance. He was in his late seventies when that happened, and he had recently won in that car at the Le Mans Classic. Many commented on just how hard he had been driving. When I mentioned this to his wife Alma, she shrugged her shoulders and smiled: “You know what he’s like.”
When Parkinson’s started to make inroads, Phil occasionally cut his schedule back…a bit. It was a shock to many to see Phil looking frail and, at times, having to work hard to have a conversation. At Monaco in 2006, having spent some time with him in the historic paddock on Friday, he called me over the next day and said, “Thanks for talking to me…I think I’m scaring people!” Then at the Goodwood Revival, having got his medication sorted a bit better, he was in fine form, giving interviews and driving cars in the tribute to himself. All the sparkle was there, and that endeared him even more to his many, many admirers.
Access to the full article is limited to paid subscribers only. Our membership removes most ads, lets you enjoy unlimited access to all our premium content, and offers you awesome discounts on partner products. Enjoy our premium content.