What was H-O Racing Specialties?

H-O Racing in transition

The 2nd oil crisis of the 1970's

    World events in 1979 greatly affected H-O:
  • December 25, 1978: Iranian oil exports out of that country have ceased because of the Iranian Revolution against the Shah of Iran. Exports finally begin flowing in fall of 1979. Iran only exported about four to five percent of the total world production. But the loss of the oil helped result in a 150 percent increase in the price of a barrel of oil because of "panic" in the marketplace.
  • January 16, 1979 Shah of Iran abdicates the throne and leaves Iran quietly. This follows months of revolt by Shiite Moslems over the Shah's rule.
  • February 1, 1979 The Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini arrives back in Iran following exile to lead the final over-thrown of the monarchy.
  • June 28, 1979 OPEC raises prices on crude oil again. The price of a barrel has increase 50% since a year earlier.
  • July 15, 1979 President Jimmy Carter announces a massive six-point effort to reduce American dependence on foreign oil. Effort includes alternative energy development and oil from shale.
  • November 4 1979 Iranian militants seize U.S. embassy in Tehran, holding staff hostage for 444 days. President Jimmy Carter places an embargo on importing Iranian oil into the United States and freezes Iranian assets in U.S. banks. Touches off second oil "crisis" in the United States.

The world price of oil peaked in 1979 at more than $80 a barrel ($503 in 2004 dollars!). Like the 1973 oil crisis, there were lines of cars around the block at gas stations waiting for a chance to gas up. While the 1973 crisis killed the "muscle car" of the mid-60's to early 1970's, the 1979 crisis certainly killed the Trans Am Firebird as that was the very last year for a real Pontiac V-8 engine.

As a result, most SEMA-type companies fell on very hard financial times and H-O Racing Specialties, Inc. was no exception. By 1981, H-O was struggling to stay alive despite downsizing and other drastic financial impositions. In October 1981, Craig Hendrickson sold almost his entire interest in H-O Racing Specialties, Inc. to Ken Crocie who had been H-O's General Manager for many years. Craig retained his interest in the software that he had helped develop which had computerized H-O's business starting in 1977. Craig then embarked on a very successful computer software development and entrepreneurial career that spanned the next two decades. Ken managed to "keep the light on" at H-O with some success, but finally had to shut down the corporation and resurrect his efforts as H-O Enterprises.