Monthly Archives: December 2013

Stuart Hilborn Passes Away

Stuart Hilborn - Facebook

Stuart Hilborn – Dry Lakes
Courtesy of Facebook

Sad news … I just heard that Stu Hilborn passed away at 96.  Back in the day we had one of the early Hilborn fuel injectors on a Ford Flathead for our dragster.  Later on, Stuart and Jack Engle were the “engineers” that put together the Potvin crank drive for the Lee’s Speed Shop dragster.  We used his dino behind Engle’s shop and Stu’s expertise to tune and fit the injector to the blower.  It worked so well and looked so good that Eric Rickman came out from Hot Rod magazine and it wound up on the cover of the Magazine.  He was one of my friends in racing and I, and the racing world will truly miss him.  My thoughts and prayers are with his family….May Stuart Hilborn rest in peace.

Ronnie Hier

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My father Ron (who posted above), knew Stuart Hilborn going back to the early years of drag racing.  He talks often about those days back in the ’50s.

Hilborn was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, moved to the United States and Southern California as a child, eventually becoming a college educated automotive engineer.  His life in racing goes back to the dry lakes and Muroc Dry Lake (now Edwards Air Force Base) prior to WW II.  He served in the Air Force as a gunnery instructor and then proceeded to make a life in motorsports.

Hilborn essentially invented the fuel injection system long before there was any electronic fuel injection.  He did so well racing his fuel injector that combined with an injury, Stu had to make the decision to build a business.  His products ended up in every level of racing and at one time, dominated the Indianapolis 500.  Stuart Hilborn’s company continues to this day.

These icons of racing pass away every day so make sure you say hi to one you know and talk about the those old days.  Their history is immense, but when they’re gone, they’re gone.

By the way, I’m a longtime advocate for Alzheimer’s and things like this always remind me that we have to preserve the history of racing because not only do we lose people everyday, but with Alzheimer’s as the fastest growing cause of death, it’s taking away the minds of our fellow racers.  Learn more about Alzheimer’s and dementia here.

Daryle W. Hier 

Sources: Dry Lakes and Drag Strips, Autoweek, SEMA Hall of Fame, Hilborn Fuel Injection

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Pro Mod Velocity Move A Test?

The NHRA announced that the Pro Mod Drag Racing Series schedule will be 10 races in 2014 and again will be backed by the race team owners called Real Pro Mod Association or RPM for short.  There will be a new track added to the series – Atlanta Dragway – with one of the two Charlotte events taken off the race calendar.  However, that’s not the big news.

Movinghttps://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/31/Velocitylogo.jpg

It was also announced that the series will move their television coverage from ESPN to Velocity.  The production of the half hour shows for each race will be operated by Masters Entertainment Group.  Furthermore, the shows will be taped and broadcast during a ten consecutive week period next fall.  Velocity is the old Discovery Theater channel owned by Discovery Communications and is available to a little less than half of all households in the United States.

For most folks, the idea of having drag races taken off ESPN is good news but considering the old adage, ‘careful what you wish for’, having the races shown near the end of the year, isn’t ideal.  Plus, when you consider Velocity is available in about half of the household that ESPN is, means some fans won’t be able to watch NHRA Pro Mod events at all.

The idea of having drag races on any channel other than ESPN is good news as far as this fan is concerned.  And that is what I’m wondering.  Is this move an experiment of sorts to see if a dedicated fan base – Velocity’s viewers are mainly car enthusiasts and male – is better for the sport than a broader sports channel like ESPN?

Hands offProMod-RealProModRPM

Whether this is a test or not, it will be interesting to examine how this works and whether it hurts or helps RPM or the Pro Mod group as a whole.  The class is certainly popular among those in drag racing circles but to the casual fan such as those who view ESPN, I’m not sure it matters.  The NHRA has treated the class as anything but a professional division and this move appears to be another way to sidestep getting rid of Pro Mod by having almost a hands off policy – not unlike its relationship with Nostalgia drag racing.

My bet is NHRA only keeps these others groups of racers in the fold so that another racing entity can’t come along and run with the popularity of classes like Pro Mod and Nostalgia drag racing.  Either way, the move to Velocity by the NHRA Pro Mod series may be something the Nostalgia folks can look into as well.

Here’s hoping this break from ESPN is a good one.  We’ll be watching … okay, some of us will be watching.

Contributing source: NHRA

Daryle W. Hier

Home Of Motorsports Marketing

Related articles:

Drag Racing 1959 – Detroit Dragway

Morgan Lucas Leaving His Top Fuel Seat

Rickie Smith Retires With Championship?

NHRA’s Expanded Lack Of Coverage

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WineBarrel-house_June13cropadj

Decorative wine barrels from Paso Robles wine country.

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