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Super Shops originally opened on Monday July 1st 1963 by Harry Eberlin and known as San Bernardino Racing Equipment located at 25830 East Baseline Avenue in San Bernardino, California. Harry, 22, was in the United States Air Force at the time and saved his military pay for two years to follow his dream of opening his own speed shop. San Bernardino Racing Equipment was opened while Harry was on leave and he had to return to Alaska to serve at a weather station briefly before his discharge. The Store was run by friends until his return. Three days after opening, burglars broke in and stole a third of the store’s inventory totaling $600, but that didn’t deter Harry.
Store #1 - November 1964
The San Bernardino store was referred to as “the Cave” because of its primitive appearance but what it lacked in presentation was made up in customer service. The counters were manned by knowledgeable enthusiasts who would help customers select the proper parts for their car and suggest any additional parts needed to accompany any big ticket items such as an intake or headers so the customer did not need to make multiple trips to the parts house. Customers appreciated this and the business took off. By 1972 a second location was opened in Riverside, California and a third location opened in 1973 at Ontario, California.
In the early 1970s Harry began building relationships with manufactures to buy direct insuring lower prices and ample inventory. These low prices were blasted over the airwaves in massive radio ad campaigns with hard rock playing in the background heard all over southern California and eventually coast to coast.
By late 1977 the southern California speed shop was set to take off like none before with 10 locations and a warehouse in Colton, California. In 1978 the chain was rebranded with the new trademarked Super Shops name and the slogan “Because Everyone Deserves Performance”. 1979 saw the addition of a new 116,000 square foot warehouse in San Bernardino and a Semi Truck and trailer for deliveries to the new out of state stores in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah.
The 1980s saw massive changes to Super Shops with the purchase of Mallory Ignition, Sig Erson Camshafts, and BRC Rocker arms. Super Shops had been selling these brands for many years but acquiring the brands themselves allowed them to better serve the customers. In the mid-1980s, the chain had grown to 84 locations nationwide with distribution centers in multiple states and finally 165 stores by the mid-1990s.
Over the years Super Shops sponsored many successful drag racing teams. From the professional ranks in Funny Car, Top Fuel, Pro Stock, to the sportsman ranks in Stock Eliminator, Top Sportsman, Super Street, along with the early days of Pro Mod—Super Shops offered the best lineup of parts any of these racers (or customers) needed.
Two of the most notable were the top fuel teams of Don Garlits and Eddie Hill which won four Top Fuel championships between them under the Super Shops banner.
Don Garlits returned to full time NHRA competition in 1985 with Swamp Rat 30 sponsored by Super Shops. Swamp Rat 30 was an innovative streamliner with a closed driver’s cockpit and streamlined nose with specially made small front wheels. With Swamp Rat 30 and Super Shops, Don Garlits won the 1985 and 1986 NHRA World Championships. He was also the first racer to go faster than 270 MPH and had the lowest E.T. in history at 5.34 seconds. Swamp Rat 30 suffered two blow overs, which is an over backwards wheelie. The second one at Englishtown the car landed facing the starting line with the throttle wide open and actually started heading back to the starting line until Garlits was able to get it shut down. That blow over took its toll on both car and driver so both retired from competition in 1987. Don donated Swamp Rat 30 to the Smithsonian Museum of American History but it is currently not on display.
Eddie Hill returned to asphalt racing in 1985 from a 10 year hiatus. During that decade Eddie took up boat racing and still held the drag boat top speed record at 229 MPH when returning to asphalt racing in 1985. In 1988 Super Shops sponsored Eddie Hill’s top fuel team where he won four NHRA events that year. He was the also first in the fours, breaking the 5 second barrier with a 4.99 run at the IHRA Texas Nationals in 1988 at 288 MPH. The following year Hill suffered a spectacular blow over at the 1989 Winternationals in Pomona crossing the finish line at 250 MPH, air born, and flipping over backwards. They borrowed a bare chassis from Darryl Gwen and assembled a car from borrowed and salvaged parts to qualify at the same race. Unfortunately they weren’t able to compete in eliminations due to a crack found in the engine block. Super Shops top fuel program ended in 1990, but Eddie Hill piloted top fuel dragsters for another decade. He retired from drag racing in 1999 after his engine split in half, jumped out of the car and passed him sliding on the asphalt. That event sent him to the hospital with a severe back injury.
Super Shops put Ed Pink in charge of building the Hemi engines and setting up the cars for the Nitro Funny car program. In those days it was common for the engine builder to be in charge of building, tuning and maintaining the cars. The first driver of the Super Shops nitro funny car was Dave Hough of fuel altered fame who drove it about half of the 1978 season. Pat Foster was brought in to finish up the ‘78 season and for the entire ‘79 season. On April 8, 1979, driving the Super Shops Plymouth Arrow funny car, Pat Foster became the 3rd member of the Cragar 5-Second Funny Car Club with a 5.99 at Fremont, California.
For unknown reasons Pat Foster was dropped at the end of the 1979 season and Ed Pink called up Ed McCulloch to take the driver’s seat for the 1980 season in which the car burst into flames on its maiden voyage down the Orange County International Raceway. Hot Rod Magazine was there to capture the moment on film which it famously published in the magazine. Super Shops owner Harry Eberlin threatened to pull his advertising if they published the picture and he wasn’t bluffing. He immediately pulled all Super Shops, Erson and Mallory advertising from Hot Rod and Car Craft magazines. The car was rebuilt and Ed finished the 1980 season. The funny cars were given away at the end of each season as part of a Super Shops contest.
Dave Hough changed his Nanook AA/Fuel altered to the Super Shops colors and named it Super Nanook for several seasons and it was given away at the 1977 Supernationals as the grand prize in a Super Shops contest. That year it had ran a 6.18@216, at OCIR. To put that in perspective, at the same race Don Prudhomme was low qualifier in Funny car, with a 6.17. Super Nanook can still be seen at nostalgia races and exhibitions all across America.
Something else Super Shops was famous for was its giveaway contests. For several years in the late 1970s a fleet of custom vehicles were given away all wearing Centerline wheels and BFGoodrich tires with paint jobs in Super Shops famous colors. The vehicles ranges from mini trucks, Vans, deuce coupes or a Porsche 911. In 1977 the grand prize was the Super Shops sponsored AA/ Fuel altered Super Nanook. 1979 and 1980’s grand prize was a nitro funny car.
Mid ‘90’s Super Shops
Several attempts have been made to revive Super Shops over the two decades following the closure, but they never got off the ground. In 2017, a group of automotive enthusiasts acquired Super Shops with plans to “bring it back” as your favorite automotive aftermarket online retailer along with introducing an entire new generation to Super Shops.
Today Super Shops offers an expansive product line on many third party e-commerce sites such as Amazon, eBay, and Walmart.com along with a complete Retail Shopping Website. Staffed with performance enthusiasts and racers with decades of experience, we strive to provide the customer with the experience Super Shops was famous for. Helping customers select the correct performance parts for their application and suggesting any additional components needed to accompany their purchases. Competitive prices and expansive inventory are still the foundation of Super Shops along with cultivating positive relationships with customers and manufacturers themselves.