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.
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