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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Power Boat Racing Family

For four generations, the Hill family has made its mark in competitive power boat racing.


Power boat racing isn’t the typical sport of choice for high school seniors. But for 18-year-old Marlee Hill, racing on water runs in her blood.

“It’s a big adrenaline rush,” Marlee Hill said. “I mean I’m no…well I guess I kind of am an adrenaline junkie. But the competition is so much fun.”

Marlee is one of three fourth-generation power boat racers in the world. Her grandfather started in the sport nearly 80 years ago and both her father and grandfather have also raced.

“A lot of people said she was born in wet shoes,” Bunker Hill said about his daughter Marlee. “Maybe it’s true because she’s really taken to it. We got her into boat racing and it’s become her complete passion.”

Now, they each have their roles. While Marlee is the only one still driving, her father Bunker acts as her chief mechanic and her grandfather Russ is an advisor with more than 60 years of racing experience.

“At one time, we counted a thousand trophies, many of which were mine,” said Marlee’s grandfather Russ Hill. “We’ve all made our presence known on the race course.”

Marlee has built on her family’s legacy in the sport. She was won her class’ season-long points race twice and has started her own online power boat racing newsletter, called “The Shear Pin”, with more than 400 subscribers.

She wasn’t always as taken with the sport.

“She wore out two pairs of Barbie high heel shoes before she was five,” Russ Hill said. “When I suggested [Marlee start racing], I didn’t believe that yes she might race but I never expected any success.”

In the five years since she started in the sport, Marlee has grown to love boat racing.

“I’ve never been so passionate about anything before,” Marlee Hill said. “I’ve played all kinds of sports. I did volleyball, basketball, softball—I did everything. I just couldn’t do without racing and I love it so much.”

For Bunker, boat racing is more than just a sport.

“How many 18-year-old girls are going away for weekends with their grandfather, their uncle, their great cousin, their little cousin, their father and their father’s friends?” Bunker Hill asked. “This is like the glue that holds our family together.”

The family that races together may indeed stay together.


Greetings to the hill family... so much time has past since our family was on the water with yours. I am glad to see that yours has enjoyed what we did in the 40s and 50s. My parents have both passed away but I still remember the pungent sweet smell of racing fuel and the thrill of all the races. I am really glad to see the Hill family continues to enjoy all we knew in the 40s and 50s. the best to you and your family. Joe and Jane Trabucco ([email protected] )

Great video. Thanks for sharing and hoope you had fun. Your welcome to atend any APBA boat race anytime.

Thanks Jonathan! Great video! It turned out awesome!
& as Jeff said, you are always welcome! Hope you liked our crazy sport! Thank you again!

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