DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 25, 2024) – Bob Riley, known for his design, creation and construction of championship-winning race cars, was honored by the Road Racing Drivers Club with the 2023 Phil Hill Award. The 2019 recipient, RRDC President Bobby Rahal, made the presentation at the annual RRDC members’ dinner on January 24 prior to the 62nd running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the season opener of the 2024 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
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 race track, it also recognizes his contributions as a great ambassador for the sport. Hill passed away in 2008.
"Over the course of a 60-year career," according to "The Art of Race Car Design," written by Bob Riley with author Jonathan Ingram, "Bob Riley has been an active participant in events at the heart of American motor racing. From the airport racing era in the late 1950s to the Formula Vee craze of the 1960s to Le Mans, Indianapolis and Daytona."
Riley emerged from building junkyard hot rods to become one of the most inventive designers at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, then moved to his ultimate specialty of sports prototypes, starting with the front-engined Mustang GTP. "He helped recast American GT and Trans-Am road racing with game-changing designs."
Since the Riley & Scott Mk. III appeared in the mid-1990s, no individual designer has had more success with sports prototypes, including nine straight victories by the Riley Daytona Prototypes in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Riley and son Bill are building a new generation of sports prototypes at Riley Technologies in Mooresville, North Carolina.
"This is an awesome award and it represents something so special in racing," said Rahal. "To me, Phil Hill was not only a great driver, he was a true gentleman and a great proponent of the sport. He represented motor racing to the world, especially in this country, in such a manner, such a fashion that is something you had to admire.
"We've had a lot of great recipients of the Phil Hill Award over the years, and this year's honoree is no different. Bob Riley is a wonderful man. He's not a race car driver – well, maybe he raced a little bit early in his career – but he's one of the greatest race car engineers, designers in America. His car propelled A.J. Foyt to his fourth Indy 500 win.
"When I first met Bob I felt really stupid because I thought I knew a lot and I realized I didn't know much at all. He's a class act. He is super-talented and probably under-rated in many respects, and I can't think of a better recipient of the Phil Hill Award than Bob Riley."
Bob Riley was home recuperating from a fall, but sent a video of his acceptance. His son Bill accepted the award on his behalf and was interviewed by M.C. Leigh Diffey in front of a capacity crowd.
"It 's a great honor for my name to be mentioned in the same sentence as Phil Hill," said Bob Riley, who told a story about watching Hill race at Sebring in 1958. "At the end of the sweeping left-hander there was a jog along to the straightaway. Phil Hill came around the sweeper and never touched the brake. He slid the car over to the straightaway without losing any speed. I thought he was going to lose it. Well, he didn't lose it," Riley said. "He didn't come close to losing it. He won the race."
Bill Riley responded on behalf of his dad with, " I think the RRDC has such an enormous range of drivers in it, with all the different talents from all the different periods of racing. For Bob to have been here to get the Phil Hill Award in front of all these racers in the room would have meant a lot. He is very honored."
Past RRDC Phil Hill Award Winners include:
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
2013 Peter Brock
2014 Hurley Haywood
2015 Vic Elford
2016 Scott Pruett
2017 Chip Ganassi
2018 David Hobbs
2019 Bobby Rahal
2020 Jack Roush
2021 Scott Atherton
2022 Mark Raffauf
About the RRDC:
The Road Racing Drivers Club was formed in 1952 as a way to give champion drivers a say in their sport, particularly in the areas of safety, and has evolved to serve the future of road racing by mentoring new drivers on both amateur and professional levels. The Club's membership includes leading industry professionals, race officials and motorsports journalists, in addition to prominent racing names.
In 2011, the RRDC launched a free on-line training seminar – www.SAFEisFAST.com – featuring RRDC members and other industry experts in high-quality videos covering subjects from physical and mental preparation to driving techniques, driver safety to car setup and sponsorship. The videos are updated regularly. Each week, a professional from the world of motor racing answers readers' questions on the site in a feature called 'Ask a Pro.'
Bobby Rahal is President and John Fergus is Vice President/Treasurer.
The RRDC presents three annual awards: the Phil Hill Award, the Mark Donohue Award, and the Bob Akin Award, and supports the Team USA Scholarship, which has been assisting young Americans in the early stages of their careers since 1990.
Membership in the RRDC is by invitation only. Additional information on the organization may be found at www.rrdc.org .
Road Racing Drivers Club | rrdc.org