Remembering McLane “Mac” Tilton 1937-2018

Buellton, CA — McLane “Mac” Tilton, former crew chief for the Brock Racing Enterprises’ team that won the 1971 and 1972 Trans Am championships, passed away April 7.
Photo: TiltonRacing.com

Following his success with BRE, Tilton and his wife, Adelle, founded Tilton Engineering in El Segundo, Calif., and earned a reputation for developing some of the most innovative products of the time. They relocated in 1979 to a larger facility in Buellton, Calif., where the company remains today.

Tilton’s products, designed primarily for racing use, are found worldwide in nearly every form of racing. Its driveline components win numerous championships each year, including 22 NASCAR Cup championships between 1990 and 2015.
Of the numerous innovations Tilton brought to the racing world, the most heralded is the carbon/carbon racing clutch — awarded a United States Patent and the 1988 Louis Schwitzer Award for the technology behind this race industry changing innovation.
The first carbon/carbon clutch to be used in F1, it won its first race at the 1987 Detroit Grand Prix in Aryton Senna’s Lotus-Honda. Today, the technology developed by Tilton is found in nearly every carbon/carbon racing clutch.
Peter Brock paid tribute to Tilton on the BRE Datsun Facebook page:
“Anyone who has been around serious automotive competition in the last 50 years knows the name Tilton Engineering. When you needed the best, you called Mac. Whether it was advice or hardware, he had the answers. The loss is deeply personal to me, not only because of his longstanding friendship but also because we here at BRE could never have accomplished what we did without his amazing talent. His years at BRE (prior to his forming Tilton Engineering) were just a small segment of his inventive timeline. Mac’s contributions are evident in every realm of the sport from club racing to Formula One. Mac was one of those special, practical innovators who changed the world of racing because he had the ability to visualize a solution when it was needed and then could create it almost overnight so it was ready to test the next morning.”
“Quality and perfection were Tilton characteristics derived from his little-known expertise as a gunsmith. He was a virtuoso on a lathe or Bridgeport long before automatic electrical measurement became accepted. Mac was the kind of guy who would put in whatever hours it took to create the solution from scratch and raw metal. I remember going home one night wondering how we might solve a difficult problem only to come in the next morning to find Mac had the finished part ready to go. His genius will forever be remembered as his talent still surrounds us every day in well-finished mechanical reminders of how good production components should look and function. Thanks, Mac …you were the best.”