Derek Hill Retraces Father’s Drive in First Pebble Beach Road Race

Pebble Beach, CA — In honor of the 70th anniversary of Phil Hill’s win at the first Pebble Beach Road Race, the Jaguar XK120 he drove was graciously loaned by its current owner, Mark Miller, to Phil’s son, Derek, to drive the original road course 70 years to the day later — on Nov. 5.

Photo: Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

It was all captured in this five-minute video, complete with Derek Hill’s reminiscences about his father’s win after starting well behind the pack.

When Phil Hill started the first race for the Pebble Beach Cup — on the residential roads above what is now The Lodge at Pebble Beach — he required a push start after getting no response from his press of the starter button. Twenty-five laps later, as the evening fog began to mix with billowing dust and flying gravel, Hill crossed the finish line in 1st place.

Amidst the racing that day, a small contingent of collector cars — participants in the first Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance — paraded down the start-finish straight.

“The Race itself was all so new,” Hill said years later. “We were driving through this forest, with just a bunch of snow fencing and hay bales lining the road. It was a real road race, and I hadn’t been in one before.” Hill would go on to win the World Drivers Championship just over a decade later.

Three more drivers and four more cars would record overall wins in the Pebble Beach Road Races before the tree-lined course proved to be too dangerous and a new circuit was built to host them at Laguna Seca beginning in 1957. But the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, which began in tandem with the races and has continued long after them, will gather all five of the winning cars at its 70th celebration, now scheduled for Aug. 15, 2021.

Those five winners and drivers are: 1950 Jaguar XK120 Roadster (Phil Hill); 1951 Allard J2 (Bill Pollack in 1951 & 1952); 1953 Ferrari 250 MM Vignale Spyder (Phil Hill); 1953 Ferrari 340 MM Vignale Spyder (Sterling Edwards in 1954); 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Scaglietti Spyder (Phil Hill in 1955 & Carroll Shelby in 1956).