Drag Racing Story of the Day!
Hill Among Class of Eight Inducted
into Motorsports Hall Of Fame
By NHRA Communications
Eddie Hill at Gainesville in his most recent NHRA season. Photo by Brian Wood
GLENDORA, Calif. - Legendary drag racing icon Eddie Hill, who last fall
was named the 14th greatest driver in NHRA's Top 50 drivers list,
highlights the 2002 induction class into the Motorsports Hall of Fame in
The 2002 Motorsports Hall of Fame inductions will take place June 12 at
the State Theatre in Detroit. Hill's induction class also includes the
late Dale Earnhardt, two-time Indy 500 champion Gordon Johncock,
open-wheel pioneer Gaston Chevrolet, race engine designer Fred
Offenhauser, sports car champion Brian Redman, motorcycle road racing star
Eddie Lawson, and stunt pilot Paul Mantz. The class of eight will join the
122 racers already enshrined in the Motorsports Hall of Fame.
"It's so much more satisfying to get this award now than
posthumously," said Hill. "This way I'll be able to enjoy it.
Honestly, it was a sobering moment when they called and told me I was
being inducted along with some of the people I admired most growing up. It
gives you reason to pause for a moment and reflect that maybe some good
was accomplished along the way."
Whether on asphalt, water or two wheels, Hill proved to be a success at
each phase of motorsports in which he competed, evidenced by his 86 career
victories in drag racing on both land and water.
Hill is one of the most personable drivers of all time and
a true fan favorite.
Photo by Brian Wood
Hill tasted success early and often in his career, winning with his
home-built Model-T framed dragster powered by an Oldsmobile V-8 in 1956.
In 1958, the Texas A&M engineering graduate, set the Texas elapsed
time record when he sped his Pontiac-powered dragster to a 9.93 second
pass. Two years later, Hill traveled west to match race drag racing
pioneer Jack Chrisman at Inyokern, Calif. Hill made four passes in excess
of 160 mph and set the B/Gas dragster record at 163.04 mph.
Hill built his first Top Fuel dragster in 1963, and built two more
before he took a hiatus from the drag strip in 1966 following a horrifying
engine fire at Green Valley Race City in Smithfield, Texas. After walking
away from the quarter mile, Hill opened up a motorcycle dealership in
Wichita Falls, Texas, which he still manages today, and soon thereafter,
he became involved in various forms of motorcycle competition.
In 1971, Hill outran the factory-supported Kawasaki riders in Daytona
with his home-built bike and recorded an opening speed of 151 mph. He
became the Texas road-racing champion 1972 and continued racing
motorcycles until 1974. However, after dominating the circuit and
collecting more than 100 trophies from his stint in two-wheeled
competition it was time for a new challenge.
From the day he set his eyes on drag-boat racing, Hill quickly
developed a passion for speed on water. Success was immediate for Hill,
winning his first time out and setting the class speed record in only his
third race. In September of 1982, Hill found himself among an elite group
as a member of the Guiness Book of World Records after becoming the
fastest quarter-mile boat racer when he clocked a speed of 229 mph. The
record stood for 10 years. From 1978-84, Hill's all-white boats ruled the
liquid drag strip. In seven years, he won 55 of the 103 events in which he
competed, including the prestigious NDBA Nationals four times.
Eddie carried the American Eagle with him on his final NHRA tour. Photo by Brian Wood
Hill retired from boat racing in October 1984 after a severe crash at
Firebird Lake, outside of Phoenix, that left him with seven broken bones,
a concussion, injuries to his eyes, and multiple cuts and contusions. It
was this that led him back to the asphalt and concrete quarter mile. He
debuted in Top Fuel at the 1985 Mile-High Nationals in Denver and
struggled for a year before advancing to his first final round in at the
1986 Mile-High Nationals.
It was in 1988 that he was on track to becoming one of the premier
names in the sport of drag racing when he signed a major sponsorship deal
with Super Shops and Pennzoil and went on to set numerous elapsed time and
speed records. He captured the first of his 15 career NHRA national events
victories at the 1988 Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla. Hill reached the
pinnacle of his drag racing career in 1993 when he won six events en route
to claiming his first and only NHRA Top Fuel championship. Hill still
remains the oldest winner of an NHRA national event, when at 60 he was
victorious at the 1996 Mile-High Nationals.
Eligibility for induction into the Hall of Fame is available to anyone
who has driven, piloted, ridden, owned, designed, built, supported,
maintained, prepared, or promoted organized vehicles in pursuit of speed,
distance, endurance, or other records: or in racing, endurance or other
competition. To be eligible, an inductee must have been retired for at
least three years or must have been engaged at the top of his or her
specific field for at least 20 years.
The Motorsports Museum & Hall of Fame is operated by the
Motorsports Museum and Hall of Fame of America Foundation Inc., a
non-profit corporation. The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America is located
within the Novi Expo Center, I-96 at Novi Road (Exit 162), in the Detroit
suburb of Novi, Mich. The museum spotlights more than 40 racing and high
performance vehicles. The constantly changing collection features racers
from the world of Indy cars, stock cars, Can Am, Trans Am, sprint cars,
powerboats, truck racing, drag racing, motorcycles, air racing and even
snowmobiles. Among the highlights are the last-ever Novi Special Indy car,
Art Arfons' Green Monster jet car, and Winston Cup cars driven by Dale
Jarrett, Darrell Waltrip, and Cale Yarborough.
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., the NHRA is the primary sanctioning
body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. It presents 23
national events through its NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. The NHRA has
more than 80,000 members nationwide and more than 130 member tracks. The
NHRA-sanctioned sportsman and bracket racing series' provide competition
opportunities for drivers of all levels. The NHRA develops the stars of
tomorrow by offering the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, NHRA Summit
Racing Series, NHRA Summit Sport Compact Drag Racing Series and the NHRA
Street Legal Program. The NHRA also offers the NHRA Castrol GTX Jr. Drag
Racing League for youths ages 8 to 17.