By admin | March 10, 2010
(Vic Hill poses with one of his new dirt rides.)
By Richard Allen
The fact that Vic Hill has become one of the most successful people in the racing business has come a surprise to some, including his family. It’s not that those closest to him didn’t believe he could be a success, it’s that no one could have foreseen that his success would come in racing.
“No one in my family raced,” Hill said. “My grandfather was a well known doctor in Knoxville, and that’s what I was supposed to be.” The thing was, however, that life did not really appeal to the 1982 graduate of Sevier County High School.
As a youngster growing up in the New Center community Hill discovered his passion. “I was always mechanical as a kid,” he explained. “I was always taking lawnmower motors and things like that apart to see how they worked and to see if I could make them work better.
“My brother is a doctor so the family got to continue with having doctors,” he joked. “He’s a doctor on people and I’m an engine doctor.”
Shortly after high school Hill moved to the Charlotte area to find a job in the racing business. In 1983 he was hired by Richard Childress Racing to work in their engine shop for driver Ricky Rudd. “I just kept knocking on the door until they finally gave me a job,” he said with a smile.
From there he worked in other NASCAR related shops specializing in cylinder head building and design. By 1986 he was regarded as one of the best at what he did which prompted a return to the RCR engine shop producing horsepower for the legendary Dale Earnhardt, Sr.
In both 1986 and 1987 ‘The Intimidator’ won NASCAR championships with the help of Vic Hill. “I have my picture with him up on stage,” he declared as he pointed to a photograph in his shop.
Hill worked for Cale Yarborough when the famed former driver formed his own racing team. He also served as a crew chief for driver Dick Trickle during a portion of his NASCAR career.
A desire to drive as well as work on race cars led him back to east Tennessee. In 1998, he formed Vic Hill Race Engines. That company produces approximately 100 engines per year for some of the biggest names in dirt racing. The likes of Scott Bloomquist, Dennis Erb, Jr., Steve Casebolt, Skip Arp and Brady Smith use Hill’s engines to power them to victories and championships.
As far as the driving part goes, Hill has established himself as one of the best in the area. “We ran 28 races last year and won 13 of ‘em,” he said.
However, engine building is still his primary business. “I’ll race in some of the big races in other states just for the prestige of running in the big races,” he explained. “We were the fast qualifier once at Eldora.
“But most of the time if there’s not a big race within 100 miles or so, I go to the lake on the weekend,” he added.
Vic Hill is one of the best known names in all of dirt racing for both his abilities as an engine builder and a driver. As a native of Sevier County he is a classic example of ‘local boy makes good.’
Click here for more photos from Vic’s engine and race shops: http://tennesseeracer.com/?p=417
Follow @RacingWithRich on twitter.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.
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