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SEMA Hall of Famer Stuart Hilborn Passes Away

By SEMA Editors

In 1948 at the dry lakes, Hilborn's Chevrolet V8-powered streamliner became the first hot rod to break 150 mph.

Legendary hot rodder, high-performance fuel-injection systems pioneer and SEMA Hall of Famer Stuart Hilborn passed away Monday morning, December 16, at the age of 96.

Born in October 1917 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Hilborn moved to Southern California as a child with his father. He was introduced to hot rodding in 1938, when he joined some friends on a trip to the Southern California dry lakes to watch the speed trials there.

Over the next three years, he and former Indianapolis 500 driver Eddie Miller built a hot rod capable of reaching 123 mph on the dry lakes, but Hilborn wanted to go faster. He served in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II as an aircraft gunnery instructor. After the war, Hilborn developed his first mechanical fuel-injection system to adress issues with running methanol in hot-rod engines.

Seeking an alternative to the old carburetors the hot rodders were then using, in 1948, he built and tuned his first fuel-injection setup when his Chevrolet V8-powered streamliner ran 150 mph at the dry lakes, becoming the first hot rod to break that mark.

A crash ended his racing career, but his fuel-injection setups were embraced by hot rodders, lakes racers, midgets, drag racers and Indy cars. For his innovations, he was inducted into SEMA’s Hall of Fame in 1996.

Hilborn’s business, Hilborn Fuel Injection, remains today. Hilborn is survived by his wife Ginny of 60 years, along with his daughter Edris and his son Duane, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren. No funeral or memorial plans have been announced.