An Inside Look at Phil Hill's "Inside Track" Double Volume
Review by Keith Bluemel
Strengthen your bookcase! After a long gestation period the Phil Hill “Inside Track” twin volume book, all 10kgs of it, has been published. The pair of massive hardback books are supplied in a cloth covered slip case and are divided chronologically into two phases of his career, the first spanning the years 1951-1956 and the second 1957-1962. These were essentially the years that he drove Ferraris, both privately and as a works driver, along with many other marques, culminating in him becoming the USA’s first F1 Drivers’ World Champion in 1961.
The mammoth project has been brought to fruition with the close cooperation of, initially the late Phil Hill, and his family, who worked closely with the author, renowned motoring historian Doug Nye, and close collaborator Steve Dawson, who digitized the original slides and had countless interviews with Phil whilst he was alive. Through which the production team at GP Library, the publishers of this massive sumptuous tome, have produced a lavish tribute to the great American driver. It is not only a tribute to his driving career, and the period of motor racing in general, but also to his great work as a photographer, his depth of knowledge of the racing scene and the automobiles throughout his racing career, coupled with his ability to communicate it in an entertaining and informative manner.
Apart from a few early images, most of the photography in the two volumes is in colour, and again, apart from a few early images, the majority of it taken by Phil Hill himself with his trusty Leica M3 camera using Kodachrome slide film. When one considers that the majority of the period that the volumes span is the fifties, when colour photography was still an expensive rarity in general terms, the number and quality of the images is highly impressive, as is their subject matter. Photography back then was much more of a science than today, in the sense that getting the focus and light right was all down to the photographer, not via the automatic features that we take for granted today.
The books are printed on heavy high-quality stock, and volume 1 comprises of 484 pages and volume 2 of 476 pages, all painting a fantastic picture of racing during the period. You can run through it either in a chronological order (if you have a few hours to spare!), or just open it a specific race or season, and you will be treated to a delight of evocative imagery and equally captivating text.
It is not cheap, and some may balk at the asking price, but is such a rare colourful insight into racing of the period, that it is a very worthy addition to any motor sport enthusiast’s library, and at the same time a fitting celebration of a great racing driver. Looked at another way, it works out at around £63.50 per kilogramme, which is in line with what one would expect to pay for any number of motoring books. There will be a third volume to make up the trilogy - the Racing Autobiography – due to be published in March 2018. This will cover Phil’s early years, his racing and later life with Hill & Vaughan etc, and will be illustrated with period photographs from many photographers.
Publisher: GP Library
Price: RRP £635 Including UK P&P (Enquire for other countries)
See our previous news item about this fabulous book.