Phil Hill - A trailblazer and America's first F1 world champion

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There's an old belief in motor racing that nice guys don't win world championships.

This may resonate as true in today's fiercely competitive and merciless world of sport, but half a century ago, well before the emergence of professionalism and big business in Formula 1, respect, solidarity and a sense of fraternity were relevant to a great champion's success.

Phil Hill - who passed away on this day in 2008 - cherished and upheld those values throughout his entire career and life. As a deeply sensitive man, he was often at odds with the perils of his profession and the inner turmoil they induced.

Yet racing was the leading means by which he best accomplished himself.

He was America's first Formula 1 World Champion, and as one of the greatest long-distance drivers of all time, he was also the first American born winner at Le Mans.