"Rem” joined AAR in the fall of 1968 after an already stellar career in the motor racing world. He was universally admired and recognized as the greatest fabricator of his time. Until his health started failing last summer Phil never missed a day of work, he was an example both professionally and personally to legions of young people who studied under him and who worked by his side .
It will be difficult for us to walk by his old wooden workbench on the shop floor and not hear the sound of his hammer or see a smile break out on his face having just finished his latest masterpiece. Our heartfelt condolences go to his daughter Kati, his son-in-law Dave and his two grandsons Tynan and Brady.
On the occasion of his 80th and 90th birthdays we wrote tributes to Phil which we think capture the man and his life and work, we like to present some excerpts here:
Watching Tom Hanks try to get off the island in the movie "Castaway" a few years ago, all we could think of was "Where is Rem?" Had the legendary Mr. Fix-it, motor racing’s best known fabricator been there, they would have been off that island in no time. Phil would have known how to hammer together a boat from bark and build a make-shift helicopter from old socks. He was a one man fire brigade which the top factory racing teams called upon when in trouble.
In 44 years at our company, nobody remembers Phil missing a day of work. His ability as a fabricator, designer, draftsman, engineer and all- technical -problem - solving- genius has inspired three generations of racers be it behind the wheel, in the pits or on the shop floor. A huge number of alumni of AAR's Remington University have gone on to establish their own often formidable careers in the racing industry.
Born in 1921 in Santa Monica, cradle of the hotrod civilization, Phil served as a flight engineer in the South Pacific in World War II. After the war he started racing hotrods on the dry lakes. A severe motorcycle accident which almost cost him a leg, finished this particular career and launched another. He found out what he could do with his hands, a hammer and a piece of metal. And he could do it faster and better .
And so the journey began which took him around the world with the greatest racing teams of the day. He was with Lance Reventlow in Monte Carlo when he ran the first American F I car, he helped the Ford Shelby Cobra Team win the Championship over Ferrari in 1965, he was in the pits when Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt won Ford's biggest victory at Le Mans in 1967, he joined Holman and Moody on the Southern circuit and led an endurance test for Ford Motor Company through hazardous Afghanistan in the middle 50s. He was at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when the Gurney Eagles dominated the Indy car scene in the early 70s. He saw Bobby Unser drink that precious bottle of milk after winning the Indy 500 in 1975 in an Eagle which Rem helped build and naturally he was at Daytona, Sebring and Watkins Glen when the GTO Celicas and GTP Eagles won IMSA Championships. Phil - literally - had a hand in every victory.
Modest, handsome, outspoken, politically incorrect, proud, fiercely competitive, cantankerous, enthusiastic and blessed with a wicked sense of humor, he became a respected and beloved elder statesman at the company. After his wife Joy died in 2000, he lived on his own shunning any talks of help or of retirement. Last spring at 91 years of age, Phil was part of the AAR crew which built the DeltaWing - what a fitting finale to a great life in the motor racing industry!
Justin Gurney, AAR CEO, said Phil's merciless work ethic and can-do attitude reverberated throughout the shop and will continue to be a shining example in the future. "Most of us in the younger generation have known Mr. Remington for our entire working lives. Considering his robust health almost to the very end, we were tempted to think he would live forever. We have been in awe of his talents and afraid of his scorn. If something was not done to his exact specifications, the hammer came down... If for instance he did not like the music emanating from somebody's radio, he would not hesitate to saw it in half during lunch hour. Next time we hear thunder, it might just be Rem with his homemade hammers repairing the Pearly Gates."
Dan Gurney called Phil AAR's ‘Rock of Gibraltar'. "He was a marvel, an old salt and an inspiration to young and old. We owe him a ton of gratitude for all the good things he has done for us and many other racing teams through the last half century. He was an original and can never be replaced. God's speed Rem, we love you and we will miss you every day".
Further data on Phil Remington's life and career can be found on our webpagewww.allamericanracers.com. An article “Mr. Fix-it” by Preston Lerner which appeared in the July edition of Sports Car International Magazine in 1980 is posted in the "archive" section.