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Where It All Started—Red Line Synthetic Oil

Posted By: Steve Baur
Written by Ainsley Jacobs
Protecting performance vehicles for more than 40 years, Red Line Synthetic Oil’s line of lubrication and cooling products are found in everything from high-end drag cars to two-stroke go-karts and more. From its start in a small garage to its modern facilities, Red Line Synthetic Oil’s mission to provide the ultimate in protection without sacrificing quality remains consistent since day one.
Peter Filice served in the U.S. Army and was involved with radio equipment during the Second World War. “He finished his chemical degree when he came out of the Army, but taught himself electrical engineering and became a chief engineer at an Oakland, California-based TV station,” recalled Roy Howell, Red Line’s Chief Chemist. “He met Tim Kerrigan, a motorcycle racer, and they decided, based on research in scientific journals and other publications, that the next great thing would be synthetic lubricants.”

Filice and Kerrigan teamed up to co-found Red Line Synthetic Oil in 1979, working out of a small garage in Novato, California. At first, they produced two-stroke racing oils to solve the big problem of deposit control. Howell was working for Lubrizol at the time, and then men often consulted with him for information. After four years, they expanded to fuel additives and eventually became an OEM-authorized supplier to Mercedes-Benz.
Howell officially joined the Red Line team in the mid-1980s and headed up the company’s Manager of Product Development ever since. His involvement was integral to the development of the famous coolant additive, WaterWetter, which is used extensively by NASCAR teams as well as DIY mechanics.
Red Line Synthetic Oil developed many product lines as the business grew, including its fully-synthetic high-performance motor oils made from the highest-grade base oils and additives available on the market for those who demand the best on the street, track, or dirt. Additionally, the brand’s Professional Series provides advanced wear protection while offering unique European OEM and API-approved formulations.

Over the years, Red Line Synthetic Oil moved from its original location to a space near a refinery in Martinez, California, and finally to its current 60,000-plus square-foot home in Benicia, California, where its products are blended and bottled by a team of roughly 25 employees. “Being in the shadow of refineries works to our advantage,” noted Howell of the company’s strategically chosen locations which are exceptionally clean and tidy in comparison. 
“From the beginning, we’ve never sacrificed quality. We use the best ingredients to make the best product, regardless of the cost of materials, with the best technology from automotive and aviation,” Howell shared proudly. “We offer the customer the best that they can get for their application with ‘made in the USA’ excellence.”
Although Red Line Synthetic Oil was purchased by Phillips 66 in 2016, its core group of talent and its original mission have stayed much the same. “Real racers know when they’re talking to another racer, whether that’s at the track or a company, and we’re real racers here at Red Line,” added Mark Beatty, Brand Director. “Our lineup of products covers daily drivers, performance cars, powersports applications, monster trucks, you name it. We like to tell our customers, ‘build it, race it, push it to the limit, and we’ll protect it.’”

Committed to supporting the racers, Red Line Synthetic Oil came on as the title sponsor of the NMCA Muscle Car Nationals drag racing series for 2022. “We’ve been involved with other organizations, but the NMCA has always cared about its racers and it was a perfect match for us,” Beatty continued.
Red Line Synthetic Oil’s high-quality lubricants, additives, and products have been on board everything from stock cars to side-by-sides, drag cars to drift machines, and more, and will continue to power and protect performance vehicles for generations to come.

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