Born in Brownsville, Kentucky, USA.
He was a leading crew chief in NASCAR stock car racing in the 1960s through the 1980s, winning 56 races and 88 pole positions. He learned to be a mechanic in the Army during WWII. Upon returning home he worked as an auto mechanic and drove race cars for a couple years, then continued racing as a car builder for local competitions in Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio.
In 1965 he was hired by Nord Krauskopf to be the crew chief of the K&K Insurance team. By 1969 the team began to see considerable success with driver Bobby Isaac, winning 17 races. In 1970 the team won the NASCAR championship and Hyde was named Mechanic of the Year.
The K&K team was one of the leaders through most of the 1970s, but in 1977 Krauskopf sold the team to J. D. Stacy. The team continued to win some races, but in 1978 the relationship between Stacy and Hyde deteriorated and Hyde left the team in mid-June. Late in 1978 Hyde would sue Stacy, and eventually would win.
In 1979 Amelio Scott hired Harry Hyde to be the crew chief for his family team in 1979 with his son Tighe Scott as the driver. Their first race together was the 1979 Daytona 500. Scott finished sixth in the race. At the following race at Rockingham Speedway, Scott recorded his best NASCAR result when he finished fourth. They competed in 15 more events that season and ten more in 1980 before parting ways.
In 1980 Hyde opened his own racing engine shop and supplied engines to various teams. In 1984, he was hired by Rick Hendrick to be crew chief for a team he was partner in, All Star Racing. The partnership did not work out, and Hendrick bought the team out forming Hendrick Motorsports. The team won three races in 1984 with Geoff Bodine driving.
Hyde was then paired with new driver Tim Richmond, a young open-wheel racer from Ashland, Ohio, as Hendrick went to a two-car operation. The brashness of the new driver from outside the southern stock car circuit did not initially sit well with the notably irascible Hyde. However, after a few races they developed a relationship and began to win races. This season was the source of much of the story line for the motion picture Days of Thunder. Hyde’s character was portrayed by Robert Duvall.
The team was very successful in 1986. Richmond won 7 races and finished third in points behind legends Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip.
Richmond, who was noted for womanizing, was diagnosed with AIDS during 1987 and missed most of the season with illness which he explained to the public as pneumonia. Veteran Benny Parsons and owner Rick Hendrick filled in for the #25 team. Richmond still managed to win 2 races in 8 starts but resigned from the team late that year. The combined performance of the three drivers would have been good enough for second in points in the driver standings.
Ken Schrader became the driver for the #25 team in 1988 but Hendrick had become a three car operation, and Hyde sometimes felt ignored. He left after the season to become crew chief for Stavola Brothers Racing where he worked through the first half of the 1991 season, before moving to Chad Little’s #19 Bullseye BBQ/Tyson Foods Ford.
Hyde had 48 career victories. His forte was setting up cars for specific tracks. Hyde’s race shop is still part of the Hendrick Motorsports facility, and a road within the complex is known as Hyde’s Way.
Hyde died in 1996 of a heart attack brought on by a blood clot. He was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2004.