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Old 11-02-2011
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Loss of old Skip Barber friend at VIR

Mark was a special guy, and will be greatly missed. He hadn't been around the SBRS paddocks for a while, but I thought some of you old timers might remember him and want to know about his passing. Sad day.
Pete

For Immediate Release: October 31, 2011
Contact: David Russell, (407) 671-0909

Automatic Racing Mourns Loss of Driver Mark Hillestad
ORLANDO, Fla.—Automatic Racing is sad to announce that team driver Mark Hillestad died on Saturday, October 29, while racing at Virginia International Raceway. Hillestad, 57, has been a staple of Automatic Racing for the past four years and will be remembered for his jovial personality and passion for racing.

Hillestad joined Steve Phillips and Rob Ecklin to drive the No. 91 Automatic Racing BMW M3 in Saturday’s Charge of the Headlight Brigade 13-Hour Enduro at VIR. During the second hour of the race, Hillestad had just moved the car into second place. Shortly thereafter, he drove off the track and came to a stop in the grass after succumbing to an apparent heart attack.

“This is a huge loss for the team and the GRAND-AM community,” says Automatic Racing team manager David Russell. “Team camaraderie was great and Mark was at the center of it. Mark was a true team player and a friend to all of us at Automatic. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mark’s family, friends and co-workers as they deal with this tragic loss.”

Hillestad was a well-liked figure in the GRAND-AM paddock. Over the past several years, he concentrated on the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge series where he and co-driver Barry Waddell earned a number of top-ten finishes. Hillestad was also a multi-time veteran of the Rolex Series 24 Hours at Daytona. In addition, Hillestad raced competitively with the Skip Barber Formula Dodge Series for more than a decade. He found a lot of success there and forged many lasting friendships.

Automatic Racing extends its condolences to Hillestad’s wife Teri and his daughter Juliana.

Funeral arrangements for Hillestad will take place at the Hilliard-Rospert Funeral Home at 174 North Lyman Street in Wadsworth, Ohio. Calling hours will be held from 4:00-8:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 3. The funeral will begin at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, November 4.

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Old 11-02-2011
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Re: Loss of old Skip Barber friend at VIR

How sad, too young!! Mark's Grand-Am CV
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Old 11-02-2011
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Re: Loss of old Skip Barber friend at VIR

Terrible loss... Our thoughts are with his family and friends.
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Old 11-02-2011
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Re: Loss of old Skip Barber friend at VIR

I was close behind him when this incident happened.

He was rolling backwards from oak tree through the prior kink and I was wondering why he was rolling backwards down the track.

I am really sorry.
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Old 11-03-2011
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Re: Loss of old Skip Barber friend at VIR

It is never a good time when you lose someone you care about...At least he was doing what he loved instead of sitting back and watching life's dreams pass by.....
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Old 11-03-2011
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Re: Loss of old Skip Barber friend at VIR

Very sad indeed..I knew him a little bit and would see him at Grand Am events when he was driving with Barry Waddell. He was a very nice, down to earth guy. My thoughts are with his family.
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Old 11-03-2011
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Re: Loss of old Skip Barber friend at VIR

Yes, very sad, and too young.

Interesting story, Greg. Kinda scary. glad no one else got collected.

In the big picture, I gotta agree with Chris...going out the way he did, in a race car, doing what he loved...if it's your time, there are lots worse ways.
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Old 11-03-2011
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Re: Loss of old Skip Barber friend at VIR

Mark was a Florida Series Skippy racer in the 90's. At dinner the night before he passed he was still telling stories form back then....
Hug your kids once a day!
Godspeed my friend!
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Old 11-03-2011
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Re: Loss of old Skip Barber friend at VIR

Mark was Really Passionate about Racing - He, like too many of our Skip Barber Family this year, is gone too soon. He was a Great Guy & we'll see him again...
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Old 11-03-2011
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Re: Loss of old Skip Barber friend at VIR

Very sorry to hear this. I didn't know Mark well, but remember him from his Florida series days, and he was definitely a good guy. My condolences to his family.
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