Phil Hill to Be Celebrated at Monza

The 59th Coppa InterEurope Storica Event, round four of the FIA Historic Formula One Championship Series at Autodromo Nazionale Monza, will add another piece of history to its racing weekend June 3-5, while honoring a special moment in American motor racing history. Scuderia del Portello, together with Lawrence Auriana, will hold a race for 1.5-liter Grand Prix cars, titled “The Phil Hill Trophy,” celebrating the 50th anniversary of Phil’s victory at Monza and subsequent World Championship Title.

Phil HillAlma Hill, Phil’s widow, and son Derek, will present the trophy and honor America’s first Formula 1 Champion who succumbed to Parkinson’s disease in 2008, at the age of 81.

At Monza in September 1961, Phil Hill clinched the 1961 Formula 1 World Championship at the wheel of a Ferrari 156. The quiet, unassuming, Santa Monica-resident, led the way to Europe for a group of young American race drivers, who included Dan Gurney and Carroll Shelby. His Formula 1 Championship was a testament to his courage and ability, as well as intelligence.

“My mother and I are so pleased to be asked to hand out the Phil Hill Trophy at Monza,” said Derek Hill. “Not only was my father the first American to become a Formula 1 World Champion, but he also defeated the odds by walking away from the sport a living man.” Unfortunately, it wasn’t so for his main rival and teammate, Wolfgang von Trips, who was killed the very day Hill clinched the Championship. “Death was very much a risk you took every time you sat in one of those cars,” continued Hill. “To be here at Monza, a circuit my father had significant victories at driving for Ferrari, means a lot to our family.”

Monza is where Hill won his first Grand Prix in 1960, and again in 1961, when he clinched the Formula 1 World Championship.

The car in which Phil won the title, and with which the Ferrari team dominated the 1961 Championship, was known as the “156,” which stood for 1500cc/6-cylinder. It was also known as the Ferrari “Sharknose” due to its beautiful streamlined shape and particularly, its shark-like nose. Unfortunately, in 1962, at the end of the 156’s second season, Enzo Ferrari had all the models destroyed.

For many enthusiasts, the 156 was one of the most iconic of Ferrari vehicles, thus when Belgian enthusiast Jan Biekens decided to build a replica Sharknose, using many original parts including an engine and the complex transmission, his efforts were welcomed with great pleasure. Mr. Biekens’ 156 will be on display at Monza throughout the Historic Championship weekend, both on and off the track, and will be the star of the “Phil Hill Trophy.”

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