Safely placed on the pole, Von Trips was cool and relaxed. "We may be teammates," he said, "but one has to fight. I love fighting."
The fighting commenced on a hot, hazy day on Monza's peculiar road-plus-oval track course, etched in a tree-shaded park. Police struggled to control a huge crowd of festive Italians who, confident of a Ferrari victory, jostled to be near the fences as 32 low-slung, open-wheeled cars screeched into motion. Disaster struck early. Only one 6.2-mile lap of the 267-mile race had been run when Von Trips seemed to slow a bit while entering a curve. Lotus Driver Jimmy Clark bumped him from behind. Von Trips's Ferrari, speeding at upward of 130 mph, danced up against a guardrail, plunged across the track, into the helpless spectators and back to the track again.
Thus, in horror and despair, did Phil Hill become the first American ever to win the world championship.
"It all seems so unreal," said Hill. "It all seems so unreal."