Hoover is remembered fondly by fans as the inventor of the 426 Hemi racing engine, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014. Hoover’s work at Chrysler after returning from the Korean War yielded incredible performance milestones for the company, for which we will be forever grateful.
“Tom Hoover was an exceptional human being and an engineering genius that always wanted to go faster. Today, at Mopar, we continue to live and honor Tom’s vision. He’ll be missed,” says Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar Brand Service, Parts and Customer Care.
During his twenty-five years at Chrysler Corp., Hoover accomplished a remarkable amount. He was a founding member of the Ramchargers, a group of Chrysler engineers and drag racing enthusiasts who used their skills to boost the company’s performance image. Later he helped develop the Hyper Pak, a group of performance parts for Chrysler’s renowned Slant-6 engine. The Hyper Pak would go on to make the Plymouth Valiant a winner on NASCAR tracks in the early 1960’s.
Hoover also led development of the Max Wedge big-block racing V-8, building on the RB engine to create a powertrain that dominated drag strip racing in the ‘60s. His heart was always in drag racing, and he even helped develop the Pro Stock and Funny Car racing classes.
Of course, Hoover is best remembered for his work as racing program coordinator on the team that developed the 426 Hemi racing engine. The engine debuted to instant star status at the 1964 Daytona 500: Richard Petty lapped the field, easily stealing the win. NASCAR blocked the 426 Hemi’s use in the 1965 race, but Hoover’s team took it into drag racing where its legacy continues to live on today. “Tom was the true technical engineer driving the details of the original 426 Hemi design, preparing it for success on the street and in racing to this day,” says Bob Lee, head of powertrain development for FCA in North America. “He was one of the best ever.”
Respected by his colleagues (and his rivals), Hoover is remembered as a visionary; his work on Chrysler’s Bendix Electrojector program served as a precursor to today’s modern fuel-injection systems. Hoover’s numerous contributions to the field of engineering won’t be quickly forgotten: Mopar continues to honor his legacy by presenting the Tom Hoover Sportsman Challenge Award to the NHRA Sportsman Class participant who earns the most points driving a Fiat Chrysler vehicle in competition.
Visit Mancari Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram and enjoy Hoover’s contributions to Chrysler in person. We’d love to walk around the lot with you and revel in Chrysler’s remarkable progress together. Of course, we’re always down for a good old fashioned test drive of one of our new Chrysler models too.