Fred Carrillo, one of the legends of the performance aftermarket, died in mid-September at age 87.
Carrillo was born in Los Angeles in 1926. After serving in the Army Air Corps as a radar operator during WWII, he returned to civilian life and began his career as a mechanic.
The next two decades saw Carrillo climb behind the wheel until an accident on the Salt Flats of Bonneville, Utah, diverted him into mechanical engineering and metallurgy studies at Pasadena City College, and then UCLA.
While he worked for several years afterward as an engineer for Aerojet, Carrillo in his spare time developed a two-cycle engine, followed by the performance connecting rods that would give rise to his legacy.
Carrillo established the company in 1963, originally known as Warren Industries. During the 1960s, he pioneered the development of the traditional H-beam design for demanding race engine applications.
Carrillo’s involvement with Dan Gurney and Jack Brabham helped propel his connecting rod business after winning the Formula 1 World Championship in 1966.
In July 2001, Carrillo ultimately sold his interest in the company to Performance Motors Inc., and in 2008, CP Pistons, a member of Pankl Racing Systems, acquired Carrillo. He was retained as a consultant until the mid-2000s.
“Fred had dedicated his career to building Carrillo into a great company—one of which we all continue to be enormously proud as we celebrate Carrillo Rods 50th anniversary,” said Barry Calvert, CEO of CP-Carrillo. “Fred not only developed enormous respect both inside and outside the company as one of our industry’s greatest innovators who pushed the envelope, but also for those who knew him well, he engendered a sense of affection and loyalty through his candor, openness, and integrity and through his unique sense of humor.”
Fred Carrillo had been retired for the past several years.