Phil Hill passes at age 81

A true racing legend. He was driving in historic races well into his seventies. SpeedTV obit after the jump.

American motorsports has lost one of its greatest legends with the passing of Phil Hill at his home in California. He was 81.

In 1961, Phil Hill became the first American to win the Formula 1 World Drivers Championship, a record he still shares only with and Mario Andretti. But Hill won countless other races over a period spanning two decades. Other highlights in his illustrious career include winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times (before the Mulsanne chicane and with only two drivers sharing the car), the 12 Hours of Sebring three times, the Argentine 1000 Km three times, the Grand Prix of Italy twice and the Belgian Grand Prix. He has the distinction of having won the first and last races of his driving career, the final victory being the BOAC 500 at Brands Hatch in England in 1967. In a time of little or no safety equipment and when driver deaths in competition where commonplace, Hill remarkably was never seriously injured in a racing car.

After retiring as a racer, Hill became an avid collector and restorer of vintage cars. Once a partner in the world-renowned Hill & Vaughn restoration business, Hill built up hi own collection of over a dozen antique automobiles. The crown jewel of the collection is a 1917 Pierce-Arrow, which has been in his family since new and has garnered prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance honors. Another great interest in his life was his collection of antique automatic musical instruments.

Hill worked as a television commentator for ABC’s Wide World of Sports and was a longtime contributing editor for Road & Track magazine, writing retrospective articles and conducting the tests for the hugely popular “World’s Fastest Cars” feature .

Hill is survived by his wife, Alma, one son and two daughters.

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