Monday, February 12, 2007

Some pretty big driving shoes to "Phil"

I was fortunate to spend a day with Phil Hill one of the greatest drivers of all time. In the history of the international Formula 1 Grand Prix Championship, the highest prize in the world, only two Americans have taken home the coveted GT Crown: Phil Hill in 1961 and Mario Andretti in 1978. Phil was the first American to win the classic 24 Hour race at Le Mans, the first American to win three times at Sebring, the first American to win a modern championship Grand Prix and the finally become the first American Champion. Between his sports car and Grand Prix victories, Phil Hill won more races for the Ferrari team than any other driver to date.

By now it should be obvious that I am a big Phil Hill fan and you are probably going to ask what does this have to do with La Carrera Panamericana? On the day that I was so lucky to spend with Phil we chatted back and forth about so many things, all racing, but as we were getting ready to say our goodbyes I thanked him for everything and then I said, "Phil, what a pleasure it has been to have met a man who has won so much... Le Mans, Sebring, Grand Prix's and so much more." But he leaned over, winked and said to my son, "Yeah, but unlike you, I have never won a 25 Hour." Phil is a fine gentleman and not only can he drive but he really knows how to make a man feel special as well. And today as I was reading my newest collection to my library I found a quote by none other than Phil... "The Panamericana ranks as the greatest race of my life, only the Mille Miglia could come close."

This photo was taken with Phil and myself at Sears Point.

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