2007 World of Outlaws Rookie Preview: Chad Hillier Concord, NC--Jan. 23, 2007 -- Chad Hillier has always dreamed of racing full-time with the World of Outlaws. He began racing sprint cars in 1995 in the Pacific Northwest, and every step he took...
2007 World of Outlaws Rookie Preview: Chad Hillier
Concord, NC--Jan. 23, 2007 -- Chad Hillier has always dreamed of racing full-time with the World of Outlaws. He began racing sprint cars in 1995 in the Pacific Northwest, and every step he took along the way was to help prepare himself to one day race with the series.
That dream will become a reality this season, as the native of Burlington, Washington will hit the road with the World of Outlaws to compete for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award beginning on February 9 at Volusia Speedway Park during the 36th Annual DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Mopar Speed Shop.
While he knows the competition will be stiff, he is confident that he and his team will be up to the challenge of the nearly 90-race schedule that will zigzag them from coast-to-coast a couple of times.
"It's always been my dream to race at this level," said Hillier. "Any achievement will be very important to me. It would be great to win the rookie of the year award."
After working as a crew member for the Dave Helm owned team on the World of Outlaws trail in 2005, Hillier, the 2001 Skagit (Wash.) Speedway 410-sprint car track champion, began 2006 by winning on opening night at his home track. He went on to win three of the first four A-Feature events of the season at the racy 3/10-mile track, where the World of Outlaws will compete twice this season.
Hillier visited many new tracks last season including Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway and Princeton (Minn.) Speedway two tough quarter-mile bullrings, as he competed in a handful of World of Outlaws events. He also competed in the Knoxville Nationals for the first time in his career in 2006.
The native of Burlington, Washington will visit even more facilities this season as he embarks on the nine-plus month schedule. Among those will be visits to the famed Williams Grove Speedway, and Eldora Speedway. He also will travel north of the border twice, as the World of Outlaws make inaugural visits to Castrol Raceway in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and Ohsweken Speedway in Ontario. It will be the series first visit to Canada since 1982.
Last year, Hillier gained valuable experience adapting to different types of racing surfaces, and constantly changing track conditions. He also learned how tough the competition is at a World of Outlaws event from the time the car rolls off the trailer for hot laps, until the final checkered flag flies after the A-Feature. Whether it's turning two laps in time trials, or taking part in a heat race, he knows that full concentration and determination is needed every second the car is on the track.
"It's not going to be an easy chore," he admitted. "There's tough competition at local tracks as well, but the guys out on the road race 100 percent every lap. At a local track you have maybe five cars that race 100%. You have to go all out every lap against these guys. They are all professionals and very good at what they do."
Hillier who began racing quarter midgets at the age of eight knows that there are many pieces of the puzzle that have to fall into place to be consistent over the course of an entire season. He believes that in racing the saying, "Success is where preparation meets luck," is evident every time a car hits the track.
"You have to have some luck as well going your way," Hillier said. "It takes hard work and also to be fast and consistent."
While Hillier calls Washington home he will not see the Evergreen State very much during the season. One time he will see it though is in late August when the series visits his home track of Skagit Speedway, for two nights of racing. He has had these dates circled on his calendar since the schedule was first announced.
With all the days and weeks spent on the road, Hillier knows the importance of making sure the team has everything they need when they finish loading their truck and trailer each time they depart the race shop.
"You have to plan well since getting back to the shop does not happen very often," he said. "You have to make sure you have enough parts and stuff in the trailer to make it. We'll also store parts and things at some people's shops along the way and stop to pick them up and work on the car at those places."
Knowing the importance of team chemistry and experience, Hillier believes that car owner Dave DeWitt has assembled a team that will be competitive from the first drop of the green flag at the 36th Annual DIRTcar Nationals Presented By Mopar Speed Shop at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida on February 9, with Tyler Swank serving as Crew Chief.
"He's been to a lot of the tracks that we will race at and knows them very well," said Hillier, when referring to Swank. "That will be a big asset. You try to relate new tracks to tracks you have raced at before. For me, I compare tracks when I get to them for the first time, to tracks that I have raced at in the past in Oregon and California. It helps some."
Swank was the 2004 World of Outlaws Crew Chief of the Year when he turned the wrenches for Donny Schatz, who won six races that season and was third in points.
Looking to gain some momentum leading into the 2007 season, Hillier embarked on a trip to Parramatta City Raceway (PCR) in Australia to open the New Year, and to run some extra laps. He visited PRC in the past as a crew member, and was anxious to take to the track Down Under. Hillier turned in several impressive runs, including finishing fifth on January 19th with a stellar field of 75 cars in attendance, including several fellow World of Outlaws competitors.