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Elford is 2015 Winner of Phil Hill Award

| , RacinToday.com Friday, January 23 2015

Bobby Rahal presented Vic Elford with the Phil Hill Award.


Vic Elford, who earned the title of “Porsche hero” during his five-year racing tenure with the German marque, is the 2015 recipient of the Phil Hill Award presented by the Road Racing Drivers Club.

Named in honor of America’s first Formula One World Driving Champion (1961), the Phil Hill Award has been presented annually since 1993 for outstanding service to road racing. The award is not only a tribute to Elford’s accomplishments on the racetrack, it also recognizes his contributions as an ambassador for the sport. Hill passed away in 2008.

RRDC President Bobby Rahal made the presentation Thursday during ceremonies leading into this weekend’s 53rd annual Rolex 24 At Daytona, season-opener of the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship at Daytona International Speedway.

“Phil Hill represented everything that was great about the American spirit internationally,” Rahal said. “He was the first U.S. Formula One champion and multi-time winner of Le Mans. He was a gentleman in the finest sense of the word.

“Vic Elford is indeed a worthy recipient of the Phil Hill Award. In the early 1960s, late 1970s, if you wanted to get it done, Vic Elford was the guy you called. When nobody wanted anything to do with the Porsche 917, Vic was the guy who raised his hand and said, ‘I’m there,’ and nearly won the Le Mans 24-Hour in 1969 in that car.

“He was the ‘Renaissance Man of Racing’ because he started in rallying and he converted his success in rallying to great success in sports-car racing, and also scored points in Formula One. He was one of those guys you may not have heard too much about, but if you studied the sport, you’d know this guy was a titan _ and he is a titan.”

Following a spirited on-stage “interrogation” by Rahal, Elford said he was humbled by the recognition. “Phil Hill was a great friend, competitor, of course…and I’m speechless,” said Elford, 79. “I’m just honored and thrilled to have received this award in his name.”

Born in London and now a Florida resident, Elford was nicknamed “Quick Vic” by his peers. He is one of only four drivers to record six major victories at the classic Nurburgring in Germany, joining Rudolf Caracciolo, John Surtees and Stirling Moss.

Elford excelled in international rallies, emerging as European champion in a works Porsche 911 in 1967. He was the last British driver to win the Monte Carlo Rally (1968) in a Porsche 911. One week later, he won the Daytona 24-Hours in a Porsche 907 – first overall victory in any 24-hour endurance event for the manufacturer. His 1968 season also included a second-place result at the Sebring 12 Hours as well as victories at the Targa Florio in Italy and the Nurburgring 1000.

Elford’s first drive in F1 resulted in a fourth-place finish at the French Grand Prix driving the slowest car in the field. He made a combined 13 F1 starts for Cooper, McLaren and BRM between 1968 and 1971. Elford also successfully competed in Can-Am, Trans-Am, off-road events in Africa and even NASCAR.

Elford earned the “Porsche hero” tag as the only driver to race every version of the high-powered and wicked Porsche 917 during his five years with the works team. His career included a collaboration with actor/racer Steve McQueen to drive the 917 during filming of the acclaimed movie “Le Mans.”

Elford was the first driver to lap the original Le Mans circuit in France at over 150 mph in a Porsche long-tail 917 in 1970. In the United States, he managed the Porsche Owners Driving School and the Porsche Driving Experience. He authored three books, including two versions of the “The Porsche High- Performance Driving Handbook” and “Reflections on a Golden Era in Motorsport.” Elford also served as narrator of Michael Keyser’s film, “The Speed Merchants.”

In addition to Porsche, Elford raced for Ford, Triumph, Lancia, Alfa-Romeo, Ferrari, Chaparral, Shadow, Lola, Chevron and Subaru. He drove a McLaren in F1 and Can-Am, and a Chevrolet in Trans-Am.

The Road Racing Drivers Club was formed in 1952 to give champion drivers a voice in their sport, particularly in the area of safety. It since has evolved to serve the future of road racing by mentoring new drivers on both amateur and professional levels. Membership includes leading industry professionals, race officials and motorsports journalists, in addition to prominent racing names.

Rahal ‘s management team includes John Fergus, vice president/treasurer, and Tom Davey, secretary.

Membership is by invitation only. Additional information on the organization may be accessed at www.rrdc.org.

RRDC Phil Hill Award recipients:

1993 _ John Bishop

1994 _ Juan Manuel Fangio II

1995 _ Leo Mehl

1996 _ Charlie Slater

1997 _ Danny Sullivan

1998 _ Rob Dyson

1999 _ Bob Fergus

2000 _ Elliott Forbes Robinson

2001 _ Bill France

2002 _ Jim Downing

2003 _ Derek Bell

2004 _ Brian Redman

2005 _ Jim France

2006 _ Roger Werner

2007 _ Skip Barber

2008 _ Roger Penske

2009 _ Bob Bondurant

2010 _ Nick Craw

2011 _ Rick Mears

2012 _George Follmer

2013 _ Peter Brock

2014 _Hurley Haywood

2015 _ Vic Elford

| , RacinToday.com Friday, January 23 2015
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