Phil Hill Tribute at Peterson Museum – Report and Photos

Phil had an amazing memory. At the beginning of the new millennium when I started to write about fifties-era racing, I often called him for remembrances. I recall an occasion when, in 2001, I was working on my third book, The Fabulous Fifties, Sports Car Racing in Southern California. (Enthusiast Books 2002), I had heard a rumor that there had been a hill climb on August 14, 1949 at the northeastern edge of the San Fernando Valley on Big Tujunga Canyon Road. I called Phil to ask him about the event. More than 50 years later, he was able to tell me all about it and in great detail.

Carroll Shelby had been scheduled to be one of the Tribute’s participants, but illness prevented his appearance. Nevertheless, he was represented at the Petersen gala by his first Cobra driver, Bill Krause as well as Shelby American driver John Morton, Ken Miles’ son, Peter plus my son and Shelby’s right-hand-man, David. It was remembered that Phil drove in 1964 and 1965 for Carroll Shelby’s Shelby American in Cobras and GT40s. Even though Hill and Shelby were great rivals during the fifties, they were also fast friends. The record shows that Hill participated in ten major events in both the U.S. and Europe during those years. His best finish for Shelby was a class win at Sebring in 1964 teamed with Dan Gurney. At Le Mans that year, Phil set a new lap record and was running in fourth when the GT40’s transaxle broke.

Phil Hill Shelby Cobra Targa Florio picture
Phil Hill drove Cobras for Carroll Shelby during 1964 and 1965. Shelby challenged Ferrari for the World Manufacturer’s Championship those years. The first foray was the Targa Florio in April 1964. Phil Hill was part of the team that secured the championship for Shelby in 1965, the first time an American had won. (photo credit: Dave Friedman)
Phil Hill Pierce-Arrow Pebble Beach Concours
I took this photo of Phil and his Pierce-Arrow in front of his home in Santa Monica in 1982. Hill won Best of Show at the Pebble Beach Concours with this car. It set him off on another career. (photo credit: Art Evans)

Jim Hall came all the way to the Tribute from Texas and brought the Chaparral 2E as well. In 1966 and 1967, Hill raced 17 times in Jim Hall’s Chaparrals, winning the 1966 Nurburgring 1,000 kms with co-driver, Jo Bonnier in the 2E. In the Can-Am, he was second at Mosport and won at Laguna Seca. At the 1967 Daytona, Phil and Mike Spence dominated the first four hours and set a new lap record in a 2F. At Spa, he set an all-time lap record of 146 mph. Phil and Mike won the 1967 6-hour BOAC 500, defeating Jackie Stewart and Chris Amon in the P4 Ferrari by 58.6 seconds after a nose-to-nose battle for the entire six hours. It was Phil’s last professional motor race.

Museum Director Buddy Pepp and his staff are to be commended for the effort and talent they put into this event. Also to be congratulated is frequent Sport Car Digest contributor Will Edgar, who was responsible for pre-event publicity. Due to him, the event was sold out long in advance.

Phil Hill Chaparral 2E Can-Am
Phil drove for Jim Hall during 1966 and 1967. Hill won the 1966 Can-Am event at Laguna Seca. Here, Hill leads Hall, both in the Chaparral 2E. (photo credit: Jim Hall Collection)
Phil Hill Chaparral 2F picture
Phil Hill won the 1967 BOAC 500 in Jim Hall’s Chaparral 2F. Hall brought the car for the Tribute and it was displayed in the Petersen. (photo credit: Jim Hall Collection)

Phil Hill Tribute at Peterson Museum – Additional Photos

Jim Hall and Bill Krause
The long and the short of it: Jim Hall and Bill Krause. (photo credit: Art Evans)
Cy Yedor and Ken Miles
Fifties-era racer and official Cy Yedor and Peter Miles, son of Ken Miles (photo credit: Art Evans)
Bruce McCaw picture
Bruce McCaw came all the way from Washington state to honor Phil. He brought along two cars Hill raced: the Ferrari 375MM seen below and a 1959 Ferrari TR59 in which Phil won the 1959 Times Grand Prix at Riverside. (photo credit: Art Evans)
Denise McCluggage picture
Denise McCluggage was one of those who said a few words about their relationship with Phil. (photo credit: Art Evans)
1953 Ferrari 375MM Vignale Phil Hill Carrera Panamericana
One of the cars on display was Ferrari 375MM Vignale that Phil Hill drove and Richie Ginther navigated to second place at the 1954 Carrera Panamericana road race. Richie’s son, Bret, was on hand to represent his father at the Tribute. (photo credit: Art Evans)

[Source: Art Evans]

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  1. I was privelged to work with Phil, I think it was the late 80’s at Road Atlanta. We were shooting an industrial film for Chrystler. The car was one of those unmemorable front wheel drive cars that had round holes in the wheels. We started shooting with first light and Phil arrived close to 11:00am probably having taken the red eye from LA. We were set up on the front straight on the inside of the track about half way down the straight. Phil asked if he could do a couple laps with the car to reacquaint himself with the track and the car. Off he went, after 2 or 3 laps he stopped where we were set up and had 8″ long flames poking out of all of those holes in the wheels. I was estatic, the clients just about lost it, they wanted to throw the water in the coolers on the wheels. To me it was a perfect introduction to just how a World Champion could drive a car. I was the only one there that got it. I was priveleged to meet with him in LA a couple times in the late 90’s early 00’s, always the gentelman, gracious in remembering me from the past and a great story teller