At the mere mention of their two names, stats quickly take on a life of their own and transform records. But let's start at the beginning. When Belgian driver Olivier Gendebien (1924-1998) and the American Phil Hill (1927-2008) were brought together for the first time with Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, they had three and four participations, respectively, at Le Mans. The first had reached the top 10 twice (fifth in 1955, third in 1956), the second had never passed under the checkered flag. Nevertheless, in 1958, the chemistry was immediate and led to a first win. The legend was being born.
Together, Gendebien and Hill became the first driver line-up to win three victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in 1958, '61 and '62. This dynamic duo broke up in 1960 when Gendebien got together with his fellow countryman Paul Frère. That year, the two Belgians won...and two years later, Gendebien became the first four-time winner at the 24 Hours. A record that would remain unbeaten for 19 years until Jacky Ickx's fifth win in 1981. In 1961, Hill became the only driver in motorsports history to win in the same year the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the F1 World Champion title.
In 1962, the Belgian and the American added a new entry to an already legendary record: the 1,000 km Nürburgring and made their mark on the 38 km cumulatively of the 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit and the Nordschleife, the equally famous and terrifying "North Loop." This stunning one-two deserved a tribute, as the Nürburgring (its current configuration of a little more than 5 km was inaugurated during the 1980s) will host endurance with the fourth round of the 2015 World Endurance Championship on Sunday, August 30th.
Jean-Philippe Doret / ACO - Translation by Nikki Ehrhardt / ACO
Photo: LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES, 24 HOURS OF LE MANS, SUNDAY JUNE 24 1962, PODIUM. For their third and final shared win at Le Mans, Olivier Gendebien and Phil Hill (first and second from the left) gave Ferrari a one-two-three that year.