Chip MillerIn March of this year, Chip Miller, founder of Carlisle Productions, passed away. An empire builder, Chip was loved by his family, his employees, and the car-enthusiast community. His kindness and dedication to the hobby have already been missed by those who knew him well. Bill Tower's column is dedicated to his numerous encounters with Chip over the past 30 years.-Cam Benty
I first met Chip back in the early '70s, probably around 1971. I was an engineer at Chevrolet and we ran into each other at a Corvette meet. Chip was working fulltime for Alcoa, but it was clear his enthusiasm for Corvettes and the car hobby was huge. At that time, he was just a regular guy looking to have fun with cars and going to as many events as he could afford.
When Chip began events such as Corvettes at Carlisle, we had lots of discussion about what he was going to do. I have to give him credit for his dedication to making the events so successful. Chip and I spoke a lot in those early days, and I told my folks at Chevrolet they should help him out and attend his events. Our most successful moment probably was the gathering of the three SR-2 Corvettes at the Carlisle event. That was a great time I'll always remember.
Chip and I traveled in many of the same circles. At the St. Ignace car show in upper Michigan (see July column), I asked Chip if he had any plans for the next day. He said he was open and we decided to take our wives to Mackinaw Island. I fondly remember the four of us taking a horse and buggy ride around the island.
While I helped Chip several times with events and connections for his shows, I'll never forget his kindness in helping me with one of my shows in my hometown in Florida. For six years, I held Bill Tower's Power & Performance Show. Chip was instrumental in making it a success. For that, and for his loyalty and attending every show I put on, I will never forget his actions.
Chip often came to Florida with his son, and we all went to Sebring for the races. Chip and I frequently traded out Corvette parts and compared notes on the history of specific cars before he bought them to add to his growing collection.
Chip, Mike Pillsbury, and I had a lot of conversations about the '60 Le Mans-winning Corvette that was to become one of Chip's most prized possessions. One of his last purchases, the C5-R Corvette from Pratt & Miller, proved once again Chip's enthusiasm for Corvettes. He called to tell me he finally landed a car he had wanted for so long.
Five days before Chip passed away, I talked with him on the phone. He was ill, but sounded good. I told him I would always value his friendship and that he was welcome to come down and stay with me during his recuperation. I planned to give him some photos of the C5-R racing when we got together. Unfortunately, that time never came.
Chip was a great friend and, like those who attended his shows, loved the Corvette. His kindly ways and dedication to car enthusiasts across the country will be sorely missed.