1952 Le Mans 24-Hour race –The works Mercedes-Benz team’s very special prototype 300SL Coupes lined-up pre-practice in the Sarthe circuit’s pits. No 20 would finish second, co-driven by Theo Helfrich/Helmut Niedermayr,
No 21 would win, shared by Hermann Lang/Fritz Riess…while No 22 for the euphonious pairing of Karl Kling/Hans Klenk would retire following electrical problems.
PHIL HILL: “I can’t over emphasize the impact my first sight of big league European racing had on me. I found the experience tremendous. I walked along the pitlane during practice, taking photographs as usual. The works teams alone left a deep impression, particularly my first sight of Mercedes-Benz with their latest 300SL “gullwing” coupes, the dedicated full-race prototype cars, not to be confused with the later production model.
“Right there in the pits directing affairs, was ‘Rennleiter’ Alfred Neubauer, Mercedes’ legendary team manager from the 1930s. I also met ‘Lofty’ England again. Jaguar was running the latest works C-Types with experimental aerodynamic bodywork meant to combat the straight-line speed of the Mercedes, though it didn’t work. Their ‘droop snoot’ long-tailed roadsters overheated and became early retirements.
“For the first time I saw works Ferraris, Maseratis, Aston Martins, Allards and Lancias – the entire panoply of world-class motor racing at its highest level….I saw French local hero ‘Levegh’ lead the entire race into the final hour in his Talbot-Lago. Driving solo, he made a mistake, possibly due to his fatigue, which might have broken his engine. With him out of the race, Mercedes-Benz finished first and second, Hermann Lang, pre-war European Champion (the equivalent of Formula 1 World Champion in that period), co-driving the winning car…”
About the book
Reviewing the evocative years 1950 to 1962, the single volume Bookshop Edition covers 80 events with some 530 colour photographs, each captioned in Phil’s inimitable style and all beautifully laid out over 488 pages of the finest Italian art paper. The book is hardbound with a cloth case and a printed jacket, and will be delivered in a matching heavyweight slipcase.
The photographs themselves cover many of the most important events in Phil’s long and illustrious racing career, from his early successes in SCCA national races in the United States of America – at such venues as Pebble Beach, Elkhart Lake, Palm Springs, Sebring, Daytona and, of course Watkins Glen – through his breakout years onto the International scene in Europe and South America, to his hugely successful Championship-winning years with Ferrari.
His uniquely insightful coverage includes his three formative drives in the Carrera PanAmericana (1952-54), his early visits to the Le Mans 24-Hour race (which he would ultimately win no fewer than three times with Ferrari) and his subsequent drives in the great 1000Kms and World Championship sports car races on circuits as diverse as Reims-Gueux, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Monza, the Nürburgring, Montlhéry and Daytona, plus of course Sebring and Le Mans.
The Bookshop Edition also covers Phil Hill’s many appearances as a Ferrari Formula 1 works team driver, culminating in his Drivers’ World Championship title in 1961. Completing the story are his many appearance in numerous non-World Championship events, including fabulous photographs from his two capacity-class World Land-Speed Record drives for MG at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1957 and 1959.