Roy Hill remembers being at the NHRA U.S. Nationals the first time Pro Stock ran in the prestigious event.
That was 1970 and now more than 40 years later, Hill is still enjoying every minute of the biggest drag race of the year.
“It’s a dream come true to be coming out here 42 years,” Hill said. “To see the way the sport has grown is tremendous. It’s just unbelievable.”
Hill’s outstanding Pro Stock days may also be behind him, but he’s at peace with that, thanks in part to the 2010 Mustang Cobra Jet that has reinvigorated Hill in recent years.
James Finch provided an opportunity to drive the sleek and powerful Cobra Jet in 2010 in the Super Stock class, and that’s all it took for Hill to get behind the wheel.
Since then, it’s also provided the perfect outlet for the legendary driver.
“All he told me was to make it the fastest thing in the country and to win Indy. We’re going into our third Indy and we won Indy that year (2010),” Hill said.
“We’ve gone out nine times and seven times we were No. 1 at national events. Last year, we got the second car and we won Super Stock A and I won Super Stock B.”
Driving the Super Stock A car in 2011 was Charlie Downing and joining Hill in 2012 at the U.S. Nationals is NHRA Pro Mod and ADRL Pro Nitrous standout Robert Patrick Jr.
Hill is sticking with the 2010 Cobra Jet, while Patrick has a 2012 version that checks in at 3,400 pounds, or five pounds lighter than Hill’s.
After four rounds of qualifying at Lucas Oil Raceway, Hill had gone 8.368, while Patrick was right behind at 8.437.
This is the first year they’re competing in the SS/AAA class (9.40 index), and Hill gladly explained why it made its first appearance in 2012 in Super Stock at the U.S. Nationals.
“NHRA made a special class I guess you could say, because between Roy Hill and Ray Skillman, we’ve hit the index so many times that they made a class for us to race in where it’s now hard to hit the index,” Hill said.
A total of seven cars are in the SS/AAA class heading to eliminations, including Skillman’s grandson, Drew, who went a class-best 8.242 on Thursday.
But Hill is aiming high in 2012 and he’s not going to be content with just winning in SS/AAA.
“I’ve won the class two years in a row and that means a lot, but that’s not what Roy Hill wants to do. When I got back in this sport three years ago, I thought I could win again. I still think I can win, but my hat is off to all these sportsman racers,” Hill said.
“It’s a glorified bracket race and I’m learning every time I go out how to cut lights better and how to be more consistent. There’s so many ways you can lose a race.”
Of course, Hill has found plenty ways to win as well, making it practically a habit over the past 50-plus years, and he’s certainly a favorite to make it three straight wins in 2012.
As for his previous area of expertise, Hill continues to marvel at what is being accomplished in Pro Stock in 2012.
With his recent run of success in Super Stock, he also said he’s at peace not racing in the pro ranks these days.
“You know, I really am. As far as my age and my health goes, I could not compete on a weekly basis with the Pro Stock cars with the way they are today and the amount of people it takes to run them,” Hill said.
“You’ve got to have your own engine program and you don’t do this unless you have $3-4 million a year.”
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