Eddie "The Thrill" Hill a.k.a. Eddie "The Texan" Hill
NHRA 14th Greatest | 2002 Inducted, Motorsports Hall of Fame of America
2000 Inducted, International Drag Racing Hall of Fame | 2007 Induced, Texas Motor Sports Hall of Fame
On numerous Texas occasions, I watched Eddie race nitro hydroplane drag boats. I also watched him race at eleven NHRA Championship Drag Racing events. He was based out of Wichita Falls, where he and wife Ercie still resides. No one has every ruled the liquid quarter mile like Eddie. As I stated in my drag racing background, I hung round a Houston nitro drag boat owner from 16-22 years old. He was the one that taught me how to build big block supercharged drag racing engines. Eddie had some bad crashes due to his experimental hull designs. He finally got the hull right and the rest is history. As you can see in the below photos, the drivers were totally exposed, compared to today's nitro hydroplane drag boats where the driver sits in an enclosed cockpit/capsule and wears a fighter pilot style oxygen mask. Observe how small the seat is and there was no seat belt. The idea back then was, in the event of a bad crash, the driver wanted to be thrown from the boat so he would not be hit by the disintegrating boat and engine. As racing technology progressed, drivers wore special life vests/suits with wide straps around the arms and legs to help keep their body in a ball position when they hit the water. Drivers also wore a parachute on their back tethered to the front of the engine, along with a kill-switch tether. If the driver was thrown out of the boat the chute would automatically deploy and hopefully pull him away from the wreckage. Sometimes they worked, sometimes nitro hydro drivers ended up in the morgue.
I remember that Eddie didn't like some of these protection innovations and would not use them because he felt they were too cumbersome/restrictive. One of the things that impressed me about Eddie's later generation custom hydroplane boats was the higher fiberglass deck in front of the driver, and he sat further down in the boat. Some of the other guys' nitro hydroplanes, particularly the 18 feet length boats, the drivers sat so far above the boat the steering wheel was at the level of their exposed knees and upper legs. I referred to these boats as a fiberglass shingle with a nitro mountain motor strapped on. I hated some of the 18 ft hydros as opposed to the 20 and 21 ft ones. About the only thing they were good for was seriously injuring/killing drivers and fishing $30,000 nitro motors off the bottom of the lake/river. Bottom-line, this was/is an extremely dangerous crazy person sport. However, speed on water is a whole different adrenaline rush than speed on land. Guess that's why this is my 3rd season to race an offshore superboat which cranks around 3,000 combined horsepower from a pair of engines, each with twin superchargers. - fla
On display at Eddie Hill's Fun Cycles (motorcycle/off-road) dealership in Wichita Falls, Texas. ~ "I built, owned, tuned, and drove this Kurtis 500 Top Fuel Hydro with a 500 cubic inch blown Hemi. It was in the Guinness Book of World Records for ten years as The World's Fastest Propeller-Driven Boat, with a quarter mile speed of 229 MPH." - Eddie Hill
Eddie "The Texan" Hill - Class: Blown Fuel Hydro
May 2008 Video from Eddie's 1st Show and Shine! (drag boats expo) in front of his motorcycle dealership.
Eddie firing up his new 540 CID blown gas hydroplane "playboat" - Here's photos provided by Eddie.
May 2008; Eddie 72 years young in his new hydro playboat
Eddie Hill & Proud Mary firing her vintage Blown Fuel Hydro
In the second video, the wing on the "shovelnose" hydro is interesting. You rarely saw these wings on hydros only on flat bottom nitro drag boats, because they messed up a nitro hydroplane boat's aerodynamics. During a quarter mile hydro run, only the tips of the sponsons and 1/2 the prop(s) (two are used today) should be in the water. Hydros get their speed from riding on air trapped underneath the boat. When the "pickle fork" hydroplane drag boat hulls became available all the top nitro owners/drivers I knew/watched used them, like Eddie. I still saw shovelnose hydros at the drag races, but the nitro drag boat owner I personally knew said they, and the winged flat bottom nitro drag boats, were more dangerous than the "pickle fork" hydroplanes that went substantially faster. It's because of the water friction on the hull. He said that before I met him, when I was 16, he ran a nitro flat bottom drag boat. But drivers keep quitting on him because the boat was too dangerous so he moved up to a Blown Fuel Hydro. - fla From NHRA's 14th Greatest Driver, Eddie Hill's Drag Boat Career
- - While attending his first drag-boat race in Austin, Texas, in 1974, one of the first things Hill witnessed was a driver being catapulted from his boat in a crash. Hill thought the participants were crazy, but less than a month later, Hill was racing his own boat. "Once I hit the water with the boat, I never went back to motorcycles," Hill recalled. "The power, speed, and acceleration were all things that I had missed since I quit drag racing."
Beginning with a non-blown gas hydroplane, Hill won on his first time out in Oklahoma City, and at his third race, he set the class speed record. In his second year, he set the Southern Drag Boat Association (SDBA) speed record at 137.46 mph. Using the same boat, Hill switched to nitromethane in 1976 and set the SDBA record at 171.81 mph, and in 1977, he set the National Drag Boat Association (NDBA) record at 170.45 mph. He also won the SDBA high-point championship and the NDBA World Fuel & Gas Championships both years.
From 1978 to 1984, Hill raced blown-fuel hydroplanes. His all-white boats soon dominated the liquid quarter-mile. In seven years, he won 55 of 103 races and won every major race at least once. He won the biggest race, the NDBA Nationals, four times, including three straight from 1982 to 1984. In 1983 and 1984, he won the World Series of Drag Boat Racing championship, a yearlong series of races that included two races from each of the sport's four sanctioning bodies. In those two years, he raced in the final round of 29 of 34 races, winning 17 times. He was American Drag Boat Association (ADBA) world champion four times and the SDBA top points earner five consecutive years.
When he returned to the solid quarter-mile in 1985 and ran the first four, Hill already had put his name in another prominent record book for an equally notorious record in boats. On Sept. 5, 1982, Hill became the fastest quarter-mile boat racer with an NDBA record of 229.00 mph in Chowchilla, Calif. The feat was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records and was not broken for 10 years. Hill also set speed records that year in the SDBA (220.76 mph), the ADBA (215.82), and the International Hot Boat Association (212.78 mph) to become the only racer to hold records in all four associations at the same time. Hill would race boats for another two years but not before becoming the first to cover the liquid quarter-mile in less than six seconds. Later, his e.t. record of 5.16 at Firebird Lake in Chandler, Ariz., was quicker than the NHRA Top Fuel record of 5.39 set by Gary Beck.
In October 1984, Hill quit boat racing after a severe crash, not to mention the fact that the earnings from all his wins over the years had only been a break-even proposition. He was clocked at 217 mph that fateful day at Firebird Lake when he was pitched through the hull and into the lake. He suffered seven broken bones, a concussion, injuries to his eyes, and multiple cuts and contusions. He spent five days in the hospital and wasn't fully healed for a year, but he did ride a motorcycle in pain six weeks after the crash.
"The blown-fuel hydro was a pretty thrilling ride," Hill said. "It would jump up on top of the water and dance around. You really never knew for sure if you were going to make it to the other end. Of course, a lot of guys didn't, myself included, but it was a heck of a ride."
# # # # #
Legend years, Eddie and Ercie Hill. She met him at a drag boat race and they have been together ever since. Ercie is walking around in the 2008 videos I posted above. Eddie will be 73 years young on March 6th and looks great. I'm not exactly sure of Ercie's age. She's a native Floridian and if I remember right she's 10-11 years younger than Eddie. Several of the drag boat owners and drivers had smoking hot goddess wives and girlfriends, along with other babes in attendance. One of the advantages of summer drag boat racing, over NHRA, is there was always hot women in skimpy bikinis in attendance. And sometimes they were drunk, *lol*. Did you know that males highest levels of testosterone, for their entire life, are in their late teen years? Here's some "The Texan" in action FlA & Co. mastered and edited photos. - fla
'08 Top Fuel Hydro Drag Boats. Quarter mile World Record 4.58 ET @ 270.2 MPH
Here's a current photo of a 18 ft. blown fuel hydro "death wish" drag boat.
posted on 03/14/2009 5:19:56 PM PDT
(See my comprehensive FR Profile "Straight Talk" Page)
Profiles: Co-Team Owner: Alan Johnson | Top Fuel: Larry Dixon | Funny Car: Del Worsham
02.04.09: Legendary Top Fuel Crew Chief Alan Johnson and Qatar Prince to Test NHRA
For Alan Johnson, leaving Don Schumacher Racing to return to ownership with a start-up team was simply a matter of moving from one form of royalty to another literally. After winning the last five Top Fuel championships as Tony Schumacher's crew chief, Johnson announced last summer that he was leaving the powerhouse outfit to return to ownership with a two-car operation. One twist: He now has a partnership with Sheik Khalid Bin Hamad Al-Thani of Qatar to form Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing, which will field a Top Fuel dragster with two-time champion and series runner-up Larry Dixon and a Funny Car with veteran Del Worsham in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
Given Johnson's record, some around the circuit expect the team to become an immediate challenger in both classes, especially Top Fuel. The owner has high hopes as well, but right now he's eager to see what it's like being in charge again. "The challenge of owning my own team and trying to win under the banner of Al-Anabi is something I've looked forward to for a number of years," said Johnson, 50, who won Funny Car titles (1997, 1998, 2000) as an owner with driver Gary Scelzi. "We've put together a great team. We've got great personnel, (and) two wonderful drivers. We're going to go out and try to create a top-notch team and compete for a championship from the beginning of the year."
In a statement, Al-Thani describes himself as a huge fan of drag racing and a longtime follower of Johnson's career as an owner, crew chief and builder of engine parts. Al-Thani's goal is raising awareness of motor sports in his homeland, which exports petroleum, fertilizer, cement and steel. "I am no different from any other team co-owner," Al-Thani said. "I want to see the Funny Car and Top Fuel teams as world champions. I trust Alan's vision of operating his own team will manifest more wins, more records and championships while also raising awareness of drag racing in Qatar."
Already, the team has raised eyebrows by luring Dixon from Snake Racing after a 13-year association and particularly after his best season in years. Though he finished a distant second to Schumacher (who won 15 of 24 events), Dixon closed 2008 with a victory in Pomona, Calif., site of this weekend's season opener. Dixon, a 43-time winner, bought out the remainder of his contract with Snake Racing to join Al-Anabi. He has marveled at how quickly the team has come together crew chief Jason McCulloch is one of several former DSR members who followed Johnson and is confident of closing the gap on Schumacher. "You've got to surround yourself with talent, and Alan has certainly done that," Dixon said. "There are a lot of teams out there that you've got to look out for.
For Worsham, timing was everything. Within days of losing his primary sponsor, Johnson called Worsham and pitched the start-up effort funded entirely by Al-Thani. Worsham needed little persuasion to come aboard. After missing the Countdown to 1 and finishing 13th in points, he is hungry to start anew in hopes of making the six-race playoff. "This door opened up, and it seemed meant to be," Worsham said. "From the time my other job ended, we've been working in the shop with Alan on the chassis. It's come together. We've run well at the test. I can't wait for Pomona."
Al-Anabi(1) means "Go Team Maroon!" That is one of two colors in Qatar's flag (white is the other). Both cars will sport the letters KH, for Khalid Al-Thani and his father, Hamad, the emir. The hope is they'll eventually display No. 1, a number Johnson hopes to appropriate from his previous dynasty to his current one. "I'll never forget the opportunity I had there (at DSR) and the fun that we had racing together and winning all those races," Johnson said. "It certainly wasn't something I was looking forward to, making the announcement that it was going to break up that team. But this is drag racing and it's my life, something that I love to do." ~ Motorsports-NHRA
(1) FlA Says:
Al is for Alan Johnson Racing. Anabi Racing is (Prince) Sheikh Khalid Bin Hamad Al Thanis Qatar based racing operation which consists of sand hill racing and pro-modified drag racing. Al-Anabi Racing is a partnership between Alan and Sheikh Khalid. This is the Princes first time to own a nitro racing team. He attended the entire Winternationals and was in the Al-Anabi Racing pits learning about the nitro dragster and funny car, along with the crews activity. He seems to be a hands-on individual. Hopefully not too hands-on where he gets in the teams way.
02.04.09: Pomona: Al-Anabi Racing NHRA Winternationals Preview Larry Dixon, Top Fuel Dragster
- - Dixon begins his Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing tenure this week after 20 years with Don Prudhomme Racing. He finished second in the 2008 NHRA POWERade Top Fuel point standings recording his 14th consecutive top-10 points finish. He won two races in six final-round appearances last season. Dixon was the No. 2 qualifier at last year's Winternationals. He advanced to the semifinals where he lost to event winner Tony Schumacher. Dixon won this event in 1998, 2002 and '03. He has never been the No. 1 qualifier at the Winternationals. Dixon won the NHRA POWERade Top Fuel championship in 2002 and '03. He is currently third on the NHRA's all-time Top Fuel winner's list with 43 victories. Joe Amato is in second place with 52 wins; Tony Schumacher tops the list with 56 wins. Dixon is 10th on the NHRA's all-time professional victories list. He trails ninth-place Dave Schultz by two wins. Dixon was the 1995 NHRA Rookie of the Year.
Dixon on the Winternationals: - - "I had a great time at Don Prudhomme Racing for the number of years that I was there, but it was time for a change. Between crewing and driving, I was there for 20 years, so that's half my life. I have a great opportunity driving for Alan Johnson and his Al-Anabi Racing team, and I'm really looking forward to the challenge. "With what Alan Johnson has accomplished in the last five years -- heck, the last 15 years - any driver would love to work with someone with his credentials. From the first time I talked to AJ about this team, what excited me is that he has a two-year, a five-year and even a 10-year plan. I'm flattered and honored that he wants me to be a part of it. Alan won 15 races at Don Schumacher Racing last year -- that's incredible, but what hooked me is his long-term planning as far as what he wants to do and where he wants to go. I want to ride his coat tails.
"At the Phoenix test, we made nine runs, running as quick as 3.81 seconds and as fast as 316 mph, my fastest speed at 1000 feet. This team has high standards; we ran quicker and faster than what I had previously, and they still want more. They want to step up their numbers so when we get to Pomona, we can be competitive. "Now, Pomona is here, and it's time to go racing for real. It's game day. It's like Summer vacation is over, and it's time to go back to school. Most of the Top Fuel teams have had a change with the sponsor, owner, driver or crew chief so it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out at the end of the weekend; I just hope we're a part of it." Del Worsham, Funny Car
: - - Worsham begins his Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing tenure this week after spending the previous 19 seasons driving his family-owned Funny Car. Worsham doubled as a Top Fuel driver running a limited schedule in 1993, '94 and '95. Worsham finished 13th in the 2008 NHRA POWERade Funny Car standings. He won a race and earned his 11th career berth in the US Smokeless Showdown. He has won 22 races in 35 final-round appearances in his career. Worsham has never won the Winternationals, but he was runner up to John Force in 1993. He won the season's final race at Pomona in 2001 and '03. One year ago, Worsham did not qualify for the Winternationals.
Worsham on the Winternationals: - - "The team has already come along faster than I thought, but with Alan Johnson and Aaron Brooks involved, I should have expected it. The car is running unreal; I can't wait to get to Pomona to get started. Our two tests at West Palm Beach and Phoenix were better than I ever dreamed they could be, but when you have Alan and Aaron in your corner, with all the preparation they do, I shouldn't have been surprised with our early success. I know testing is different from real competition, but I enter Pomona with my confidence at a very high level.
"It been different not working with my family's team Aaron and Alan have made the transition as painless as possible and treated me like I've been a part of this team forever. It's really been great so far. "They've designed stunning race car. When you see it on the track it's really stunning. From the paint scheme all the way to the assembly of the car, chassis and other components, it's been a pleasure to drive so far, and I'm looking forward to actually racing it this week." - PR from Al-Anabi Racing
I cant say enough good things about both Larry Dixon and Del Worsham. There are outstanding individuals and drivers who I always enjoy watching and talking with. Jason McCulloch is crew chief for Larry. He's the son of my No. 1 favorite active NHRA legend, Ed "The Ace" McColloch. It should be a very interesting season. I dont know Alan that well, only his NHRA superstar crew chief reputation. His brother Blaines 1996 Top Fuel crash and death was horrendous, like Scott Kalittas FC crash last year. ~ Blaine Johnson: NHRA 36th Greatest Driver
posted on 03/14/2009 5:23:31 PM PDT
(See my comprehensive FR Profile "Straight Talk" Page)
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