At the race track the pits are full of supportive significant others cheering on their loved one as they tear up the track. In some rare cases, their significant other is battling it out with them on the race track.
Chris and Katelyn Hile of Syracuse, New York fall in that category, playing the part of husband and wife as well as teammates. The Hiles run Big-Block Modifieds in the Northeast together, but their history goes way back.
The two met in 2008 at the Gater Racing News Motorsports Expo at the NYS Fairgrounds, but it wouldn’t be until 2015 that they would tie the knot. Both credited their grandfathers for their love of racing which in turn dscould have lead them to each other.
“My grandfather actually raced a Hobby Stock way back when at LaFayette Speedway so racing has always been in my family. Growing up my father would always bring us to the track and racing was just something we enjoyed as a family. So now to be able to do it with my wife is pretty neat and its definitely a different dynamic,” Chris Hile told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.
Katelyn found her way to the race track in a similar manner, but when it came to her turn to get behind the wheel their stories differ.
“I grew up around racing and my grandfather owned a Modified team and I was always involved whether it was in the pits or at the shop. After he sold his team I still continued to go and spectate with him,” Katelyn said. “When I was sixteen I actually got sick with Leukemia and part of the whole way to get through it was that I could race when I got better, so it helped knowing I had a race car waiting for me and I started racing locally and then I met Chris.”
Not only did the two decide to take on the trials of life together, but they also decided to take on the challenges of the race track together. Previously their cars were based out of their own separate families garage. After getting married, Katelyn took a year away from the track to help with the finances so the two could merge the teams the following year.
“There are days where it can be a little hectic at times because we can be brutally honest with each other and if there is something she thinks I can be better at there is no sugar coating it and the same goes in return. At the end of the day it’s really neat and it’s something that we enjoy doing,” Chris stated.
For the couple, they see working together as teammates as an advantage because of the ability to have two minds at work while at the track. While Katelyn supplies the feedback, Chris helps play crew chief for both cars.
“It’s tough to explain it,” Chris commented about their on-track duties. “Outside of the car when the helmets are off I am just as tentative to her car as I am to my own. I want to know what she feels in the car and I try and help her with setups and the same in return. It’s neat though cause there is definitely an advantage there because you have another brain working with you constantly for set up and track conditions and things like that.”
When asked about if any on-track incidents had occurred between the two of them they both giggled and Chris insisted Katelyn tell the story.
“I happen to be starting on the pole of the feature that night and the car on the outside started to jump me on the initial fire so I kind of backed down, but unfortunately I backed down so fast that I bottle necked the whole field behind me and lucky Chris was the unlucky one that caught me square in the rear end and he blew out his front end and I completely blew out the back of my car.”
Thankfully the two didn’t have another story to share of wrecks involving the couple, but they did share the nickname that comes with it when it happens.
“When we are involved in the same wreck or we wreck each other it has been come to known as a ‘Hile Pile,’” Katelyn said. “Those are not a good weekend in the shop because then we have to fix both cars and the whole time we are up and down and on one side or the other with things.”
“It’s funny now because we can look back at that stuff now and laugh even though at the time it wasn’t that funny,” Chris commented.
The two look forward to a close to 50-race schedule this season as they take on the Big-Block Modified scene together. Race fans can find them competing regularly at Brewerton Speedway and Fulton Speedway in New York, as well as in select touring series events in the region.
Story by: Hannah Newhouse- Southeast Correspondent. Twitter: @hannahnewhouse
Photo credit: Jay Fish