Extract 5: 'Inside Track: Phil Hill with Doug Nye'by Doug Nye on 12th February 2019
The fourth in a series of extracts from Inside Track: Phil Hill with Doug Nye. Phil Hill talks about how he captured a flock of Ferraris at the 1955 Venezuelan Grand Prix
1957 Trophy of the Two Worlds ‘Monzanapolis’ 500, Monza, Italy – Here in the Monza pits No 1 is ultimate winner Jimmy Bryan’s Dean Van Lines Kuzma-Offenhauser Indy roadster, with Johnny Parsons’ Agajanian Special Kuzma-Offy just beyond. Cigar-chomping Bryan won two of the three Heats and placed second in the third – Parsons taking a 6th place followed by two 3rds.
PHIL HILL: “The ‘Monzanapolis 500’ was a speedway race – split into three Heats on safety grounds to avoid tyre bursts – to be run on the speedbowl which had been built at Monza for 1955 and had lain largely unused until 1957… The idea was for a visiting bunch of USAC Indy racers to compete against the best the European teams could offer. The idea was pole-axed by the contemporary driver’s union – the UPPI – declaring a boycott on safety grounds. So the Americans had a clear run apart from the Scottish Ecurie Ecosse team which ran its three Jaguar D-Types there…and profited hugely from Indy car retirements to go home with a big bag of gold.
(For 1958) “Not only was the prize purse increased to $80,000, but the national Club – the RACI - announced that to be eligible for its annual bounty … entries had to be made in the Monza race. This cornered both Ferrari and Maserati. Ferrari built two special cars to compete….so straight after Le Mans I went to Monza, where Musso, Mike Hawthorn and myself were all lined-up to drive. I guess Luigi perceived it as his patriotic duty to put these visiting Yanks in their place. He absolutely threw all caution to the winds in the big 440-horsepower V12 and took pole at 174.67mph. The Indy guys, give them their due, looked at Musso with new respect. And so did I.
“In Heat 3 ‘Jenks’ of ‘Motor Sport’ reported: ‘After 24 laps Hawthorn stopped for a change of the left-front tyre and Phil Hill took over and made the Ferrari rush along, though it was 400rpm down due to a dying battery for the coil ignition. Even so, it hurtled past the slower cars and Hill was gaining visibly’.
“Stirling had the Maserati’s steering box shear on the banking and was lucky to escape unhurt, and then it was all over – Jim Rathmann and Jimmy Bryan were first and second in their Offy-engined Indy cars – and I was third for Ferrari. I guess it shouldn’t have been that big a deal. I was three laps behind – but it didn’t feel that way. Amarotti and Tavoni made a big fuss of us. Musso had been the hero, yet I felt I hadn’t done my cause any harm…”
And by the end of 1958 Phil became Mike Hawthorn’s Formula 1 Ferrari team-mate - and in 1961 back at Monza he would become Ferrari’s next World Champion Driver…
1957 at the Modena Aerautodromo – Lancia-Ferrari 801 V8 Formula 1 cars on the Ferrari works team's famous Bartoletti Transporter
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.