Sitting in the stands as a boy at Skagit Speedway, Chad Hillier dreamed of one day racing sprint cars at the high-banked track. That day came and his next dream became to go on the road and race full-time with the World of Outlaws. That day also came, and this weekend, Hillier a native of Burlington, Washington will have a chance to return to his home track to battle the best sprint car drivers in the world.
The World of Outlaws continue their 11-race Gold Rush Tour at Skagit Speedway with a pair of events on Friday, August 24 and Saturday, August 25. The finale on Saturday night will pay the winner $25,000 for the second consecutive season, with both nights of racing being taped for broadcast on SPEED.
“We’re excited to head to Skagit and to get to go home,” said Hillier, driver of the DIRT Inc. Maxim. “We’ll get to see a lot of family and friends and that will the trip special. It will be good.”
Hillier last competed at Skagit Speedway in the early part of the 2006, winning the first two events of the season. He would go on to win three of the first four races of the season at the track, before taking to the road at the end of July. He knows he will have a large fan base this weekend, as he has competed for over 10 years at Skagit Speedway which is located just 12 miles from Burlington.
“Having family and friends there probably adds a little pressure as well, with familiar eyes watching you, whereas on the road you don’t know a lot of the people,” noted the rookie driver. “I haven’t raced there for over a year, so it will be nice to get back. I’ll get to sleep in my own and bed and see a lot of family.”
The current contender for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award is the only driver in the history of Skagit Speedway to win a championship in all three of the sprint car divisions that compete at the track. He won the 410-sprint car title in 2001. He won the 360-sprint car championship in 1998 and was the Sportsman-sprint car title winner in 1995 and 1996, as well as being victorious in the 360 Nationals in 2001 at the track.
“The key to winning championships there is the same thing that it takes to be successful out here, you have to be prepared,” he explained. “I learned to race there and I have had good success there and that is an advantage. It’s going to be just as tough racing there as it is anywhere else. All of the guys that are running out here have been doing this so long that they are tough anywhere they go. Hopefully being comfortable there will help us to have a good night.”
Hillier has competed in nearly 70 events this season, after getting a head start on the season by competing in Australia as well as arriving in Florida early to turn some extra laps. With the World of Outlaws making one trip to the scenic Pacific Northwest, Hillier will have a chance to catch up with many family and friends that he does not get to see during the racing season.
“This will be the first time that I have been home since February,” said Hillier. “Our plan was to head out right after the race on Sunday night so we could have an extra night at home. It’s so pretty out there and I can’t wait to see family and friends. I’m very excited.”
While many of the World of Outlaws teams are based in the Midwest and return home numerous times during the season, Hillier and his team have learned to adapt to life on the road and operating out of their truck and trailer. Thanks to cell phones and the internet, Hillier is able to keep in touch with family and friend no matter where the series is racing at.
“Sometimes it does make it tougher not being able to go home,” he noted. “Your family is always there for you, and when you have a bad night, you can’t talk to them face-to-face and have to talk to them over the phone. It makes it tough, especially always have to work out of our trailer and visiting a few shops on the road. It would be nice to get to go home and work at home as a comfort issue. It’s kind of like a ballgame, having a home field advantage. When you are at home, you know where to go and who to get stuff from and the support is always there.”
Hillier is looking forward to the long line of fans that will be waiting by his trailer each time he climbs out of the car, including his car owner Dave DeWitt, a Washington native who attended the World of Outlaws event at Nodak Speedway last week. With his busy schedule, DeWitt is not able to attend that many World of Outlaws events, but Hillier is grateful for the continued support that his car owner offers him.
“Dave (DeWitt) will certainly be there,” smiled Hillier. “I know it will be pretty crowded in the pit area. That is probably the only disadvantage of being home, that people have not seen you for a long time and everyone wants to hang out. I can’t thank Dave enough for giving me this opportunity and my family for always supporting me for all of those years.”
Both nights of racing will be taped for broadcast on SPEED. The event on Friday, August 24 will air on Sunday, September 2 at Noon Eastern, with the race on Saturday, August 25, airing on Sunday, September 9 at 2 p.m. Eastern.
On Friday, August 24 at Skagit Speedway, adult tickets will be $35, with tickets for Military personnel as well as juniors and seniors, $25, with children 7-under $10.
On Saturday, August 25 at Skagit Speedway, On Friday, adult tickets will be $35, with tickets for Military personnel as well as juniors and seniors, $25, with children 7-under $10.