Go, Speed Racer!
Texas Roofing Contractor Goes From Pumping Iron To Burning RubberAngie Lewis, Writer
Buddy Hull may not fly an F-14 Tomcat like Tom Cruise’s character Maverick did in “Top Gun,” but he does “feel the need for speed” on land, which is why he’s a third-generation drag racer.
Growing up in Illinois, Hull was always at the track with his dad John, uncle Dick and great-uncle Reggie, who was the family’s original drag racer.
“I’ve always loved loud and fast things,” he says. “When I was a kid, I used to work on the cars. Even though I’m a drag racer now, I’m still a fan. That’s why I do it.”
Hull’s competitive nature also inspired him to get behind the wheel. In fact, before racing, he competed as a professional power lifter for nearly two decades — five years of which he was world ranked in the sport.
With a passion for health and wellness, he started refereeing youth basketball games at his local YMCA when he was 14 years old. In subsequent years, he got into the health club industry, opening more than 200 health clubs between 2003 and 2017, when he decided to change careers.
“I’m getting to an age where it’s… how can I say it?” he says. “The health club industry is a young man’s game. I’m 37 years old and I was the old guy working in the health clubs. It treated me very well and made me a great income for a lot of years, but I wanted to get into a career that I could do for the rest of my life.”
Hull had previously worked at an L.A. Fitness with Kirt Linington, managing member of Linear Roofing and General Contractors in Irving, TX, who offered him opportunity to get into the roofing industry.
So in December 2017, Hull relocated more than 900 miles south from Chicago to Frisco, TX, where he now works as a project manager for Linear. He plans to move his entire racing operation down in summer 2018.
“I guess I’m a Texan now,” he says. “I went ahead and got a pair of cowboy boots and spurs and everything. So, it’s on!”
Drag racing remains a family affair for the Hulls, with 63-year-old John and 59-year-old Dick still driving today, in addition to helping Buddy with the mechanics and operations of his cars. His mom, aunt, nephew, close friends and girlfriend, Catherine, also get in on the action.
“I couldn’t do it without them and my sponsors,” he says.
Career highlights for Hull include competing in the Bowling Green, KY, National Hot Rod Reunion the past four years and finishing second in season points in the Nostalgia Outlaw Quick Series in 2015, losing by just one point. He’s also raced all over the country as well as internationally.
Hull is one of only about 50 people in the U.S. to hold a license to drive a nitro flame car.
“Evil cars to drive,” he says. “Most people don’t want to have anything to do with them. It’s the most dangerous racecar to drive. [That car] and the AA fuel-altered car are the two most dangerous, most aggressive race cars on this entire earth.”
While it seems counterintuitive, AA is a code term for nitromethane — not a direct acronym, Hull explains. So what he drives is a super-charged nitromethane fuel-altered land rocket.
“My car has somewhere in the range of 7,000 to 8,000 horsepower,” he says. “That’s extreme. To give you an idea of what kind of horsepower we’re talking about, a brand-new Corvette has about 500 horsepower. My car can go 0 to 300 miles an hour in sub 5 seconds.”
Drag races typically take place on either an eighth-mile or quarter-mile-long track. Car classes can range from nitro flame and AA fuel altered down to 10-second bracket racing cars and everything in between. The only rules in the sport pertain to safety.
“The faster you go, the more safety equipment you have to have — neck restraints, helmets, gloves, boots, face masks, fire suits, fire extinguishers on the racecar,” Hull says. “It gets pretty intense in terms of safety.”
In the decade he’s been racing, Hull has luckily never been injured — except when he stepped out of his trailer, broke the step on the trailer door and fell and hurt his back. His dad and uncle have also never been injured.
“We’re just that damn good,” he says.