Phil Hill, American racing legend, dies at 81

The first American ever to win the Formula One world championship, Phil Hill, died today in a Monterey, California hospital of respiratory failure. The racing champ took the Formula One title in 1961. Pictured above is Hill driving his 1962 Ferrari 156 F1 car on the Nurburgring.

Other racing feats to his credit include three wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, an equal number at the 12 Hours of Sebring, plus three Grand Prix wins – two at Italy and one at Belgium. Hill was always proudest of his Formula One championship, however, according to friend and fellow American racing driver Dan Gurney, reports Automotive News.

Hill had been struggling with Parkinson’s disease, and the illness led to complications with his breathing, and subsequently his death. He was 81 years old.

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