October 8, 2021
|Starr, Brittany, and Chase
Bill Elliott has done it all. Throughout his 29-year illustrious career, Elliott has delivered the on-track fireworks and off-track demeanor that have made him one of NASCAR's greatest drivers and, without question, a fan favorite. The 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup champion was named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers of All Time in 1998 and won the NMPA Most Popular Driver Award a record 16 times. The NMPA has voted to name the trophy that is awarded for the honor the
Bill Elliott Trophy.
In 2001, Elliott joined forces with Evernham Motorsports and Dodge, which was making its return to NASCAR's premier series after a 20-year absence. Elliott led the Dodges at the season-opening Daytona 500, capturing the prestigious pole. It was the first for his new team, Evernham Motorsports, and the first for Dodge.
Elliott continued to add to his list of accomplishments for Evernham Motorsports. He captured the organization's first win at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November 2001. In 2002, he posted back-to-back wins at Pocono and Indianapolis, leading 93 of 160 laps at Indy to win the prestigious Brickyard 400. He posted career victory No. 44 at North Carolina Speedway in 2003, winning in dominating fashion.
In 2004, Elliott began a new chapter in his career. Although his NASCAR Nextel
Cup Series schedule was scaled back to only three events in the No. 91 Dodge, he was very active with Evernham Motorsports. In addition to serving as a coach and mentor for the 2004 Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year, Kasey Kahne, and teammate Jeremy Mayfield, he played a pivotal role in the research and development program at Evernham Motorsports.
Growing up in the hills of north Georgia, Elliott exudes the humble yet friendly qualities that have endeared him to race fans of all ages throughout his career. It was a strong and supportive family that helped launch him into racing. George Elliott, the family patriarch, started bringing his three boys (Ernie, Dan and Bill) to the racetrack partly to spend time together and partly to keep them occupied and out of trouble. Throughout their trips to local tracks like Dixie Speedway, it soon became apparent that his youngest son, Bill, showed he could get around the racetrack in record-setting fashion.
The Elliotts began entering races on a more consistent basis, and in 1976 found themselves in the sport's elite series. On February 29, 1976, at North Carolina Speedway, a 20-year-old Elliott entered his first Winston Cup race. The family-run team struggled to gather the funds necessary to run in the early years, but they still were successful. On April 10, 1981, Elliott won his first pole at Darlington Raceway.
The family's racing operation got a financial boost in 1982 when Michigan-based businessman Harry Melling gave Elliott his chance at racing immortality. Melling provided the funding needed to keep him racing. The following year Elliott began his first full season on the circuit, and in his 117th Winston Cup race, found victory lane at Riverside International Raceway on November 20, 1983.
In the following years, Elliott visited victory lane often. In 1985, he brought new fame to the sport and himself when he won 11 races and 11 poles on his way to winning the first Winston Million in NASCAR history. His victories in the Daytona 500, the Winston 500 at Talladega and the Southern 500 at Darlington brought him the million-dollar bonus and the nickname “Million Dollar Bill”. It also landed him on the cover of Sports Illustrated, the first Winston Cup driver to appear on the front of the magazine.
More glory followed, and in 1988, Elliott added champion to his list of accomplishments. With six wins, six poles, 11 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes in 29 races, Elliott earned NASCAR's Winston Cup championship.
Elliott ended his relationship with Melling in 1991, and in 1992 began his association with Junior Johnson. The season ended in dramatic fashion as Elliott narrowly missed his second Winston Cup championship, winning the race, but failing to lead the most laps. Alan Kulwicki won by 10 points, the smallest margin of victory in the final standings in NASCAR's history.
In 1995, Elliott started his own team, and in 1996 assumed sole ownership. In 2000, he celebrated his 25th anniversary in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. At the end of the year, he announced he would be joining Evernham Motorsports.