Sunday, May 3, 2009

Luigi Chinetti

About the time Phil Hill's parents died he met Luigi Chinetti, Ferrari’s ambassador and talent scout in America. Chinetti would become something of a godfather to Hill, as he was to other promising young drivers. A moody man with a pronounced forehead and an impenetrable Italian accent, Chinetti had a reputation as a tough endurance driver, twice winning the 24-hour Le Mans race before World War II. (He won in 1932 after plugging a leaky fuel tank with chewing gum.)) He came to the Indianapolis 500 in 1941 as a Maserati team manager, just as Italy joined the Axis powers. Chinetti was an ardent anti-fascist, and while the rest of the Maserati team sailed home on the Rex, an Italian liner, he stayed in New York as an enemy alien. He took a job as a mechanic with a Rolls-Royce dealership and married an American woman. Over the next ten years he would arrange for Hill to drive Ferraris in regional races and international events, like the Carrera Panamericana. More than anybody, he is responsible for connecting Hill to the team for which he would eventually win a championship.

Do you have info about Chinetti's life and career? Please share.

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