I had the pleasure of racing against Phil Hill--who died on Aug. 28 at age 81--in 1967 in Sebring, Fla. It was toward the end of his career and near the beginning of mine. He was behind me, challenging my Ford with his Chaparral. All of a sudden, I saw a cloud of smoke, and his car blew out. What a relief it was, because he was a relentless, versatile driver with a fantastic record of success.
Having had the opportunity to race with Phil is a dear memory. He blazed the international trail at a time when it was unheard of for Americans to compete abroad. I was a young driver when he became the first American to win the international Formula One championship in 1961, and his victory gave me hope; when someone accomplishes your own dream, you begin to figure it's actually possible. To date, we are the only drivers to have brought a Formula One title to America.
That created a very special relationship between us. Phil was the ultimate gentleman: kind, approachable, wholesome. He was also a very smart guy, which later made him a successful analyst for abc Sports and Road & Track magazine. He was like a wine connoisseur with his ability to break down the behavior of cars.
Phil was respected by everyone in our industry. I never, ever heard anyone say anything disparaging about him. He will be missed, and I don't think he'll ever be forgotten.
Andretti won the Indianapolis 500 in 1969 and the Formula One World Championship in 1978