BY KEITH WALTZ
Bobby Hillin Jr. made his NASCAR Cup Series debut at North Wilkesboro Speedway on April 18, 1982, at the age of 17. A few years later, on July 27, 1986, the young racer from Midland, Texas, outran a field of seasoned veterans to score an upset victory in the Talladega 500 at Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway.
At the age of 22 years, 1 month and 22 days, Hillin Jr. became the third youngest NASCAR Cup series race winner behind Donald Thomas and Fireball Roberts.
Driving the No. 8 Miller American Buick entered by Mickey and Billy Stavola, Hillin Jr. led the final nine trips around the 2.66-mile superspeedway and was just ahead of a massive crash in turn one of the final lap.
Hillin Jr. had to fend off challenges from Tim Richmond and Rusty Wallace, subbing for Ricky Rudd, as they raced back to the checkered flag. The official margin of victory was three-car lengths over Richmond as Hillin Jr. went to the winner’s circle in his 70th NASCAR Cup Series start.
“I was looking out my rear window more than my front windshield those last few laps,” Hillin Jr. said in Greg Fielden’s “Forty Years of Stock Car Racing.” “I got a lot of coaching on the radio. My crew was telling me that I could do it.”
As it turned out, the 1986 Talladega 500 triumph was Hillin Jr.’s lone victory in 334 NASCAR Cup Series starts between 1982 and 2000.
Following his driving career, Hillin Jr. returned to Texas and found success as an executive in the oil industry. He is currently CEO of Marea Energy Partners.