2008 World of Outlaws Season Review: Chad Hillier Concord, NC-- November 14, 2008--After learning all that he could as a rookie in 2007 with the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series, Chad Hillier was geared up for another run with the series in...
2008 World of Outlaws Season Review: Chad Hillier
Concord, NC-- November 14, 2008--After learning all that he could as a rookie in 2007 with the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series, Chad Hillier was geared up for another run with the series in 2008 and continued to gain priceless experience and confidence in his second full season on the road.
The native of Burlington, Washington, who is the only driver in the history of Skagit Speedway to win a championship in all three sprint car divisions at the track, finished the season a very solid 15th in the championship point standings with the World of Outlaws on the strength of six Top-10 finishes, driving for Washington native Dave DeWitt.
"I can't thank Dave (DeWitt) enough for giving us the opportunity to come out here for our second full year," shared Hillier. "I know it was a big financial burden on everyone this year, especially with the weather. It was another great experience being out here."
Hillier recorded a season-best seventh-place performance on the second night of the famed Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway in California aboard the Dirt Inc. Maxim. He followed that up with a very solid 12th-place run in the finale of the famed event, which drew nearly 100 cars from across the country.
"It had its ups and downs like any season," the sophomore driver noted of 2008. "The weather played havoc on all the teams. We didn't get to race as much this year as we did last year, but still were able to get even more experience. We went back tracks for the second and third times and it was definitely an enjoyable year."
Hillier and his team gained momentum during the summer and he picked up consecutive ninth-place finishes at Paducah International Raceway in Kentucky and 34 Raceway in Iowa, after starting third in both of those events. The sophomore driver raced his way into the Crane Cams Dash eight times in 2008 to earn Top-10 starting spots in A-Feature events.
"You try to learn from every mistake that you make and try to not make the same mistake twice," explained the native of Washington when asked about his first two years on the road. "It's a big learning curve and there are so many guys out here that have been doing this for so long. That's the reason they are as good as they are, because they have learned from their mistakes so they don't make them over and over again. It all comes with time and effort."
While he was still learning every time he strapped into the race car, Hillier didn't look at his inexperience as an obstacle, but rather viewed every lap as a continuing education with some of the best teachers in the world leading the course.
"It's not so much intimidating, but actually an ease of thought, because you know that they will race you clean," he noted. "They are respectful of everyone's equipment and will not wreck guys or do anything stupid. You know that they will race you hard and clean. You have to learn from them. If you don't know how to drive a certain race track, you can get behind them in hot laps and see how they are doing things. You try to learn as much as you can by watching."
To help ease the travel of the always demanding World of Outlaws schedule, Hillier and his team set up a home away from home by way of a shop in Brownsburg, Indiana where they could stop and regroup at various points during the seasons. For a team based in Washington that only gets home once a year, this proved to be beneficial, especially with the level of competition this season which at an all-time high.
"It's always tough out here," stated Hillier. "Even if there were only 10 cars, you would still be racing against the best of the best. It's going to be tough no matter what. Having more cars makes it even tougher during qualifying, which was so crucial this year. This sport is always going to be tough with the quality of cars and the quality of drivers that are out here."
Just like last season, Hillier did a lot of the work on his race car day in and day out at the track, as well as the routine maintenance away from the track and also drove the truck and trailer from race to race. The strong runs made all of the endless miles on the road worth it.
"We work just as hard when we run bad, as we do when we run good," he explained. "It's just that some nights you are a little closer than other nights, and that is all that it boils down to. When you are close on the car, then the driver has to do their job. There are nights when I don't do my part and other nights when maybe I had to carry the car. It all goes hand in hand. The attitude and morale are important as well, especially after you have driven all night and are tired. There is a lot that comes into it and a lot that the fans don't see. We just try to do the best we can every night."
For Hillier, who has been racing sprint cars since 1996, the end of the season is always bittersweet. After nine-plus months of travel and enduring the most rain filled season in the history of the World of Outlaws, the young driver was ready for the season to wrap up, but after being home for a short time in the off-season, he is always anxious to be back on the track, like every driver is.
"At this time of the season, you're glad the season is over, but about a week into the off-season you are wishing you could go race again," he said with a smile.
The 2009 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series seasons kicks off February 6-8 at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida with the 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH.