What is your earliest memory of
your father, realising he was a
such a successful driver?
I suppose my realization of who my father was as an accomplished driver just naturally sank into my psyche for long as I’ve been around. After all, as toddler and youth, you are figuring out these concepts of success, fame and accomplishment. To me he was just dad, someone who lived cars day in and day out.
I grew up with my father being fully immersed in his car restoration business, although it was obvious that his whole identity was wrapped up as being a driver even though he had retired from racing 8 years before I was born. There was a room in our family home called the Music room, where we all spent the most time together, whether it was having a meal, watching the TV or lounging on the sofas reading books.
The tops of the bookshelves were lined all the way around with the trophies my father had won as a professional. Paintings and photographs showed him racing cars in very dramatic and triumphant fashion. The way he drove, the way he spoke about cars, the races we would watch on the TV, all of this contributed to how I saw my father as a person. It was most notably the car events that invited him as an honorary guest and all the people that would tell me how they felt about my father that helped me build a picture of the fame, adoration, and success he achieved as a driver.
What was your first introduction
into the motoring sport world?
I remember attending the Long Beach Grand Prix, which had just started around the time I was born in the mid-70s. My father was often invited to take part in some way. It was still a Formula One race when I first attended as a very young boy, and as early as these memories are, I can still recall the loudness of the engines bouncing off the buildings during practice, former Ferrari-mechanics squeezing my cheeks, and meeting people that I should’ve probably known were the top drivers of the day.
How did the opportunity arise
for you to drive your fathers car
at Goodwood this year?
At the Goodwood Festival of Speed this year I had the opportunity to drive a beautiful repllica of the Ferrari 156 Sharknose of the like my father won the Formula One World Championship in 1961. It had come about a few years ago that a historic racing enthusiast, Jason Wright, had acquired the most authentic replica of any Sharknose at the time, built by a Belgian gentlemen who even had the car painted yellow, in the national racing colors of his native country.
Jason had always been particularly fond of this era and completely rebuilt the car to an even more exacting degree. In fact, he built two cars, each with the two different engine types that Ferrari used in the 1961 Championship. The car I drove has been built in the configuration of how my father won the Italian Grand Prix in 1961, where he clinched the championship.
You could study any photograph from the time and you would be hard-pressed to find one tiny detail out of place. Charles March, now the Duke of Richmond, wanted to have the Sharknose replicas there at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Daniel Setford racing, the shop that was building the cars made a big push to get them done in time.
I was committed to going to the event not knowing if the cars would be done in time, but as it turned out, the cars showed up and I was able to successfully complete a few good runs up the Hill. To slide into the cock pit of this car is entering into a time-capsule. To me the Sharknose was a legendary car, a mythical being, that only existed in books and old films. To be driving one in real life was absolutely exhilarating.
Can you give us any insight of
content into the upcoming
documentary and book written
about your father?
Finally after so many years we’ve completed my father’s book, featuring over 900 of his personal photographs shot on a Leica with 35mm color Kodachrome film. To him, these images were “to share with the folks back home” his adventures racing cars around the world from La Carrera Panamericana in Mexico to racing Grand Prix cars in Monaco.
We’ve worked with Doug Nye, England’s top motor racing historian and author, who dedicated countless days and hours to get as much detail and accuracy packed into every page. We’ve just started shipping the Collector’s Edition which comes in two volumes and have just put the final touches on the Autobiography which is going into print in late October. The reader’s responses so far have reflected what we had hoped for all along, to have the definitive book on my father’s life and personal stories of his racing career.
I have also resumed work on a documentary film about my father. After he died in 2008, I had a wave of inspiration overcome me to go out and interview on camera as many of his closest racing comrades. It was an amazing journey to seek out and hear the stories from people I had never even heard of, such as some of the mechanics and people in the Ferrari organization back in the day when my father was there. It’s a big mountain to climb when you feel so close to a subject, but it’s a story I feel will appeal to a wide audience, not just those who are fans of racing history.
What is your favourite race car
you have driven over the years?
My favorite race car that I’ve raced has to probably be a 1964 Cobra Daytona Coupe. I’ve never had such a great feeling of having so much power, just the right amount of grip, and such a well balanced car that you could drive really hard and get so much feel from. The sound and grunt those cars make is exhilarating and the whole experience of driving one just gets you feeling very alive behind the wheel.
What would be the three best
words to describe your late
father, Phil Hill?
Inquisitive, rock-solid, inspirational.
What are the events that you
would most like to attend in the
motoring sport calendar within
the next year?
Not many to be frank. I’ve just come off a year of having been an Honorary Judge at Concours Villa d’Este, emcee of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and attended both Goodwood Motor Racing Events.
Having a 9 month old son, my wife’s and my first child, I’m really looking at spending as much time at home as possible aside from the traveling and work I’ll have to do for the documentary. I’ve been very lucky to experience so much in the racing world both modern day and vintage and I’ve also been able to be involved with the best Concours events in the world. As much as I love it all, it takes a lot of time away from your work projects and home life.
What was it like to be present for
the 70th anniversary of Ferrari?
The only Ferrari 70th celebrations I was able to attend was being at the Goodwood Festival of Speed where they had a fantastic line up of vintage and modern day Ferraris blasting up the hill. For me it was especially great being able to drive the replica Sharknose 156s, built identically to the car my father won the championship in as he crossed the finish line at Monza in September 1961.
What is next for you in the next
year of racing?
I’m afraid my racing days are always flirting with being a thing of the past. I have no plans to be racing next year. Every time I’ve said this though, something seems to crop up. For the most part, I’ve just raced a couple vintage races a year for the last few years. My last modern day drive was in 2015 with Maserati in their Maserati GranTurismo MC Trofeo car. It was a thrill to put the car on pole and win the race driving against the championship contenders for the International Maserati Trofeo championship.