Peter Brock, a true motorsports Renaissance Man - a designer, author, team owner and photojournalist - was honored by the Road Racing Drivers Club with the 2013 Phil Hill Award. RRDC president Bobby Rahal presented Brock with the award at a dinner prior to this weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The Phil Hill Award has been presented annually since 1993 to the person who the RRDC feels has rendered outstanding service to road racing. The recipient may be a driver, entrant or outstanding member of a sanctioning body. It is named in honor of America's first Formula 1 World Champion (in 1961), and is not only a tribute to his masterful accomplishments on the racetrack, it also recognizes his contributions as a great ambassador for the sport. Hill passed away in 2008.
Peter Elbert Brock was named Elbert after his grandfather E.J. Hall, designer of the Liberty engine and co-founder of Hall-Scott Motor Company. Born in 1936, he grew up in northern California, where he was bitten by the car bug at age 12. Brock was first exposed to professional racing when he attended his first road race at Pebble Beach in 1951, photographing everything.
In the 1952 race, Phil HIll made a lasting impression on Brock. "Phil HIll was driving a wild MGTC special with a supercharged V8 60 flathead engine and I was hooked for life," he said. "It was the perfect mechanical amalgam of hot rodding, which was the focus of my life at that young age, and the whole new sport of road racing."
While in high school he found a half-completed '46 Ford convertible on a used car lot and customized it. He would win the Oakland Roadster show twice with the car in the '50s, which took on the name of Fordillac because of the Cadillac engine Brock had installed.
In his college years, he moved from the engineering department of Stanford University to the Art Center School in Pasadena, where students designed cars. While there, Brock met GM Styling Division's Chuck Jordan, who was scouting future talent for GM. Within days he had a ticket to Detroit and at 19 became the youngest designer ever hired by GM Styling. In 1957 Brock drew the sketch which GM VP of Design Bill Mitchell selected to become the next Corvette, the Stingray.
After leaving GM in 1959 he met Carroll Shelby while working at a car shop, who invited him to run the Carroll Shelby School of High Performance Driving. He accepted. Brock then worked at Shelby American in 1965, developing the Shelby American brand by creating logos, merchandise, ads, car liveries, etc. He also designed the Shelby components of the Shelby Mustang GT350s, as well as the iconic Shelby Daytona Cobra coupes that won the FIA World GT Championship in 1965.
Following his success with GM and Shelby, Brock started his own design firm, as well as a race team, Brock Racing Enterprises, competing in the SCCA Trans-Am Series (1971-72), and in 1972 helped build Ultralite Products into the largest hang-gliding company in the world.
Since then, he's been an instructor at the Art Center School of Design, authored the definitive book on the Daytona Cobra Coupes, and in 1999 partnered with Hi-Tech company in South Africa to create a modern version of the Daytona Cobra Coupe, called the Brock Coupe. Over 150 of these have been produced in South Africa.
Today he lives in Henderson, Nev., with wife Gayle, working together as freelance automotive writers and racing photographers. He also designed an aerodynamic car trailer called the Aerovault and has received numerous awards for design and journalism.
"Phil Hill represented everything that was great about the American spirit internationally," said Rahal. "He was the first U.S. F1 champion and multi-time winner of Le Mans. He was a gentleman in the finest sense of the word. Tonight's recipient is a big Phil HIll fan. I read his bio on Wikipedia and I said to myself, 'What didn't this guy do?' On behalf of all us at the RRDC I can't think of a greater recipient than Peter Brock for the Phil Hill Award."
"It's an incredible honor to receive this award because of the people who have received it before. I really feel humbled," said Brock. "Phil Hill was such a dear friend and my hero from the very beginning because I saw him win in 1951 at Pebble Beach when I first got interested in racing, and followed his career right to the end. So, this award is a very personal thing. It's going to be treasured in my house."
Past RRDC Phil Hill Award winners:
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