MCI Racing Headlines (MCI Racing) Elliott Leads NMPA Voting Voting continues for the National Motorsports Press Association NASCAR Winston Cup Most Popular driver with over 45,000 votes cast for 56 different drivers to date. Bill Elliott, who has won a record 11 straight NMPA NASCAR Winston Cup Most Popular Driver titles, is in the lead with a narrow margin over seven-time Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt. The NMPA NASCAR Winston Cup Most Popular Driver Award will be presented in New York during activities for the NASCAR Awards Banquet at the Waldorf-Astoria. Voting is easy. Fans in the United States wishing to cast a vote for their favorite driver should call 1-900-903-0909. They will receive instructions on how to vote for their favorite driver. The cost is exactly 79 cents, no more. In Canada, fans should dial 1-900-830-3847. The cost is exactly 89 cents. All calls require at TouchTone phone. Ten calls are permitted during a 24-hour period and only 25 calls per phone are permitted. Voting ends at midnight, Nov. 18. If you haven't yet voted for your favorite driver, don't hesitate. It's quick and it's easy.
Demands on his time by NASCAR, corporate associates have worn down driver Bill Elliott
Sunday, October 5, 1997
By Mike Mulhern
Bill Elliott is an angry man.
The demands of NASCAR are driving him up the wall. His time is seldom
his own. Sponsors have him criss-crossing the country for appearances
and commercials. He's scrambling to get his second Winston Cup team up
and running. NASCAR's promoters are making millions, and yet the purses
rarely even cover the tire bills.
It has been nearly a year since his last break . . . and all the hassles
are starting to get to him.
Last year's crash at Talladega and his lengthy healing time, he says was
an eye-opening experience . . in more ways than one.
''Every day is a struggle, whether you're winning or not winning, whether
you're out because you're hurt or what,'' Elliott said. ''The daily business
is a struggle. So, no, it didn't eat at me when I was out. I promise you
it didn't. I loved it, man. I ain't kidding -- If I hadn't come back when
I did, I might not have come back. And I'm being dead serious.
''I didn't miss the crowds, I didn't miss fighting my way in and out of
these places. There are a lot of things I did miss. I did miss the driving
the race car. But the rest of it . . . ''
Bill and brother Ernie once ruled the roost. But Bill hasn't won in more
than three years, and Ernie doesn't show up much around the tour any more.
''Darlington was the first race Ernie had been to in a long time,'' Bill
said. ''I don't blame him. I wouldn't come to these places if I didn't
have to, either.
''I love driving a race car and being part of this deal. But you know how
the hustle and bustle of this stuff has gotten. I never did like that part.
I never did like the limelight. I never did like to be high profile. I
liked to just come in and do my thing, run hard and go home. That's just
me, my personality.
''But over the last two years this sport has just exploded. Getting in
and out of race tracks is terrible . . . and there's all the politics in
the NASCAR truck. Whoever cries the loudest gets the rules change, and
last year it was every time you turned around.''
Elliott said he still loves to race but that the pressure is building
behind the wheel, as well.
''I still have the same desire when I'm behind the wheel. If I didn't,
I'd just put it on cruise control,'' he said. ''The deal today is you
can't be off any when the race starts. You've got to be dead on the
money, week in, week out. Just look at qualifying here. Look at all the
pressure on people even here to qualify, trying to get on the front
straight so you don't lose that little advantage. And we're seeing that
pressure everywhere we turn.
''I remember times when I could almost put it on cruise. We were at
Talladega one time, and I was racing Earnhardt side by side and he's
running his guts out and I'm running about half-throttle, and I just
looked over at him and grinned. But times change.''
Elliott's last great season was his first with Junior Johnson and Tim
Brewer, in 1992, a season in which they won four in a row early and
nearly won the Winston Cup championship, losing in the final miles of
the last race of the season to Alan Kulwicki.
''That first year with Junior was more than I expected,'' Elliott
recalled.chance. ''I'd never left home before, so to speak. I'd been my
own boss doing my own thing. And when I went to Junior's I was just a
''But we accomplished a lot that year. We darn near won the championship.
But the end of the year. . . . man, I didn't even know it was going sour
until Tim called up and said, 'I'm fired.' As simple as that, buddy. The
end of November . . .
''I thought everything was just fine.
''I guess the biggest disappointment I've had was that second year at
Junior's,'' Elliott said, ''when Junior totally redid that deal. He let
Tim go and brought in Mike (Beam) to do my deal, and all the people went
in all different directions.''
Since leaving Johnson, Beam and Elliott have been slowly building their
own operation, now based in a hangar at the Hickory airport but to move
this fall to a new shop in Statesville. The past several weeks Beam has
had Elliott in some very strong cars, perhaps the strongest at Darlington.
''Look at the results. It's working pretty doggone well. I put all my faith
in what Mike does,'' Elliott said. ''He does an excellent job, and he's got
real good people.
''We've still got things we need to do better, but it takes time to build
something. I think Mike's doing a good job of that. He's delegating things
better. I can see changes in him. We're making good decisions this year.''
Elliott's second team, being run out of his Dawsonville, Ga., shops, has
four or five Grand National cars and three Winston Cup cars at the moment.
And next year?
''We haven't gotten that far along,'' Elliott said. ''We're trying to secure
sponsorship from New Holland. We don't have a clue yet what we'll do with
that team next year. I can't tell you what'll happen tomorrow, much less
three months from now. It's still September.''
And what does Elliott want out of his second team?
''I just want to maintain what I've got,'' he said. ''I've got a pretty
good deal down there.''
The issue of time is eating at every driver, and Elliott says his schedule
has become almost maddening.
''(Last) Monday I was at the shop in Dawsonville,'' he said. ''Tuesday I
was shooting a commercial for Ford. Wednesday I was in Phoenix doing a
deal. Thursday I was back at the shop in Dawsonville, and then I flew up
here (Martinsville) early Friday morning. That's a typical week.
''Back in June and July, there was one stretch when we were testing that
I went like seven or eight days straight in a race car. We were at one
track and then went to test Indy for three days, went to Pocono to run,
and then went to Watkins Glen to test.
''It's got to the point that just keeping up with all my deals -- just
the sponsors on my car, not including the stuff NASCAR wants you to do --
it runs you ragged. McDonald's appearances, Super Eight commercials, New
Holland, Coca-Cola, Amoco . . . it all takes time. And the more associates
you've got, the harder it is. They all expect so much of your time.''
So how much longer is Elliott going to put up with these hassles? Is he
one day going to wake up and say, 'Hey, guys, it's been fun, but I'm outta here'?
''I don't know, I really haven't thought about it,'' he said. ''I'm trying
to work on another deal right now for the next three years, and I'll be
committed to that. But after that, I don't know. I'm just going to see
how it feels. I might walk in here one day and say, 'See ya, guys. . . . ' ''
In five years, or 10 years?
''I guarantee you it won't be over five,'' Elliott said with a laugh.
''People ask, 'Well, what would you do?' Man, there are a lot of things
you can do. If the situation stays right, I'll keep a hand in this sport.''
And would he just hole up in Dawsonville, or head out to see the world?
''I don't know. I've seen a lot of places . . . but there's no place like home.''
Monday: Bill Elliott says that money -- the cost of racing and the financing
from sponsors -- is the driving force and the problem in NASCAR.
DARLINGTON,S.C.--Jeff Gordon's bid for the Winston Million bonus has a lot of people thinking and talking about money this week.
Bill Elliott, the only man to win the $1 million bonus that Gordon goes after Sunday, thinks a lot these days about the money it takes to go racing.
``In the late 1970s, when my father was trying to get me started in racing, we could come to a track and race for $2,000 or $2,500,'' Elliott said. ``We were buying used tires from Benny Parsons and we were sleeping about 15 to a hotel room.
``Now, if you count salaries and labor, you're talking about $100,000 per race....This sport is outgrowing us. It costs so much to do this deal, it won't take you but about that quick to lose everything you have.''
Elliott said he recently read an article indicating a track can make as much as a 60 percent profit during a Winston Cup weekend.
``If the tracks have that kind of profit margin, I am in the wrong side of this business,'' Elliott said. ``I finished seventh at Bristol in April and what I won didn't touch paying my tire bill for the weekend. And they've got 125,000 seats? You can put a calculator to that and it doesn't add up.
``I enjoy racing. Man, I love it. I would race out here for nothing. That's the truth, I would be out here racing just as hard as I could go for nothing. But you can't do it for nothing anymore.''
Elliott's last Winston Cup victory came three years ago this weekend in the Southern 500. That was his third career win in the sport's annual Labor Day weekend event, but it was his first Southern 500 victory that everyone remembers.
Before the 1985 season, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. announced it would pay a $1 million bonus to a driver who could win three of Winston Cup's four biggest events in a season.
Elliott, who came into 1985 with four victories, won the Daytona 500 to open the season. When he won the Winston 500 at Talladega, AL, he had $1 million in his sights.
He went to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Coca-Cola 600 that May and wasn't ready for the blitz of attention he found. He didn't win at Charlotte, but had one more chance at Darlington. He won the Southern 500 and took home the bonus the first year it was offered.
Nobody has won it since. Darrell Waltrip won at Daytona and Charlotte in 1989, but couldn't win at Darlington. Davey Allison won at Daytona and Talladega in 1992, but failed at Charlotte and Darlington. Last year, Dale Jarrett came to Darlington with victories at Daytona and Charlotte in hand, but couldn't cash the $1 million check.
Gordon has his chance this week at facing the pressure and the hype. Elliott empathizes.
``There's a time for everything,'' Elliott said. ``There's a time to sit and talk to reporters, there's a time for the fans and there's a time to race. And everybody has to respect all of that.
``This business has grown to the point where you cannot do it all. I can't do it and maintain what all I have got to do. I go out there and race hard. I do a lot of appearances for my sponsor and I try to do as good as I can in the garage area.
``But there's no way you can take care of everybody. You can flat forget that. You either come to race or you come to do that.''
Elliott won 11 races in 1985 and earned $2,433,187 for his team, which was owned by Harry Melling.
Today, Elliott owns his car. When he sat out seven races after being injured in a crash at Talladega last year, the forced vacation got into his pocket.
``My main concern is keeping enough money to keep this team funded,'' said Elliott, who has won $1,029,537 this year. ``The sport is putting the burden on the sponsors and the sponsors can't keep up. You can't keep continuing to ask them for this kind of money.
``Plus, you have the race tracks, the other teams and NASCAR all fighting for the same sponsors. It becomes a Catch 22.
``It takes every nickel and dime to make this deal work. We continue to run more races and it gets more expensive. I know what it takes to run this race team and it's tough right now.
``Money drives the sport, and it's great it is as popular as it is today. Every fan that comes to a race, it seems like he brings four more back with him the next time. But there's a point there where it seems like something is getting lost in the deal.''
These days, ``Million Dollar Bill'' is just trying to make sure the something that gets lost isn't drivers like him.
Bill Elliott, Georgia's legendary NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver, took the first laps on Georgia's reconfigured, historic Atlanta Motor Speedway on Monday. Elliott was giving the track its first runs in preparation for the season-ending Nov. 16 NAPA 500. And, to paraphrase TV movie reviewers Siskel and Ebert, Elliott gave AMS's new 1.54-mile quad-oval a resounding two thumbs up. "I think it's great," a smiling Elliott said after a handful of shakedown laps in a primered Ford Thunderbird. "I'll have to admit that I was a little skeptical because of the changes, but there are absolutely no problems. It will take a little getting used to because it's new, but it's excellent."
Because he was testing Atlanta Motor Speedway's newly reconfigured and newly repaved racing surface rather than testing his race car, Elliott drove fewer than a dozen laps. Yet his best clocking of 29.84 seconds, which translates to 185.791 mph, was extremely impressive. Robby Gordon's track record, set in Busch Pole Qualifying for last March's PRIMESTAR 500 -- the last race on the old 1.522-mile oval, is 186.507 mph.
Testing speeds usually are somewhat slower than qualifying speeds. "The speed that we run here on NAPA 500 pole day (Friday, Nov. 14) will depend on what type of tire Goodyear brings," Elliott said. "I don't see why we can't run wide open, though. I was almost wide open today after only a couple of laps. The track is a lot wider now, particularly on the new backstretch. It used to be narrow (when it was the frontstretch) and if anything happened it'd get all clogged up over there. With some tuning and changing, we should be able to run wide open all the way around."
Elliott, a six-time winner at Atlanta Motor Speedway, initiated the trans- formation of Atlanta Motor Speedway from a 1.522-mile oval to a 1.54-mile quad-oval a few days after the PRIMESTAR 500 when he ceremonially destroyed the old backstretch wall and a considerable stretch of pavement with a bulldozer. He thanked Bruton Smith, chairman of Speedway Motorsports, Inc., which owns Atlanta Motor Speedway, and AMS President and General Manager Ed Clark for allowing him to take the ceremonial last lap around the old oval and for allowing him to make the maiden voyage on the new quad-oval. "It has been a privilege to be part of this whole deal," Elliott said. "I really do appreciate Bruton, Ed and everyone else at Atlanta Motor Speedway for allowing me to do something so special at my home track. Bruton and Ed and this company have put a lot into this place. It would have been hard for me to believe this or say this when I was running the last laps here in March, but the changes are a definite improvement."
Elliott's McDonald's Ford Thunderbird also has demonstrated signs of significant improvement lately. Elliott has captured 40 NASCAR Winston Cup victories, but none in the past three years. But in the three races in which Jeff Gordon duplicated Elliott's 1985 achievement of winning the Winston Million, "Awesome Bill From Dawsonville" was fourth in each. And, in his past two NASCAR Winston Cup starts, Elliott qualified on the front row for the Mountain Dew Southern 500 at Darlington S.C.) Raceway, then ended a two-year drought by earning the 49th Busch Pole position of his career last weekend in the Exide NASCAR Select Batteries 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
"This team has been good lately," Elliott said. "We've had a few ups and downs, but overall we've been very competitive. I'd really like to win a race before the year is over, and Atlanta would be a great place to do it. In fact, it would be the best place to do it. "Everything here is great: The new track, the new grandstands, the new garages, everything. It's magnificent. I think the fans are going to be very surprised, very excited and very pleased when they get back here in November for the NAPA 500 weekend."
Bill Elliott, the 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup champion and 11-time most popular driver, is the second-quarter nominee for the 1997 NASCAR True Value Man of the Year award.
True Value, the Official Hardware Store of NASCAR, for the second consecu- tive year is sponsoring the NASCAR True Value Man of the Year. An award designed to honor a driver who proves one can be a winner off the track as well, the award is based on off-track involvement such as community service and charitable efforts.
And for his many off-track efforts while running his own race team as well as fielding cars in the NASCAR Busch Series for young driver Ron Barfield, Elliott has been named the second-quarter nominee.
It's a fitting nomination for Elliott, who shares his time with several charitable foundations. Elliott's love for children (he works closely with his primary sponsor McDonald's on many functions), family and his work with the less fortunate helped garner the veteran driver the nomination.
On Friday, July 25, 1997 Elliott will serve as the honorary chairman of the First Annual Dawson County (GA) American Cancer Society Relay for Life. The fund raiser is dedicated to the memory of Elliott's nephew and up-and- coming driver Casey, who passed away on January 14, 1996 at the age of 21 following a two-year battle with cancer.
"Being the honory chairman of such an outstanding event as this is an honor in itself," said Elliott. "To know that all the people volunteering their time and participating in a worthwhile cause is something everyone should be proud of."
Along with being the honorary chairman, Elliott is also serving on the Relay for Life committee board with wife Cindy and other family members.
"Our whole family is behind this deal 100 percent," Elliott said. "Everyone is involved in some measure to make sure it's a complete suc- cess and that everyone realizes that cancer is an important issue. I think Casey would be proud that this event is being held in honor of him. He was such a good kid. The way he handled himself, being positive and optimistic throughout his ordeal was unbelievable."
The 24-hour relay is a unique fund raising event that helps raise millions of dollars to aid the effort to help prevent cancer and support those battling the life-threatening disease. More than 23 teams (with 10 people to a team) have signed up to participate with each team expecting to raise at least $100. Event organizers expect to raise more than $10,000, which will go towards cancer research, prevention programs and patient services.
Elliott has also worked closely with McDonald's Ronald McDonald House Charities program. Ronald McDonald House has provided a home-away-from- home for nearly 2 million family members of hospitalized patients since it began in 1974. There are 175 such houses in 14 different countries. In addition, Elliott has spent countless hours with patients diagnosed with life-threatening diseases, encouraging them to not give up.
"The things I do with charities, meetings and calling people, is not something I do for notoriety," said Elliott. "If I can make someone's day a little bit better or make a kid forget about his pain for awhile, then I feel good. Us drivers live for racing. But sometimes you have to take the time to see things outside of racing. That's what I will try to continue to do."
For the purpose of determining the NASCAR True Value Man of the Year award winner, the NASCAR Winston Cup schedule has been divided into four quarters in which drivers are nominated for their off-track efforts. The national NASCAR TrueValue Man of the Year will be chosen by a blue chip panel from the list of quarterly nominees. The year-end winner will receive a prize of $50,000 which will be divided evenly between the driver and a charity of his choice.
In addition to the NASCAR True Value Man of the Year, True Value sponsors the Man of the Race Award, which goes to the eligible driver who wins each of the 31 NASCAR Winston Cup championship events. Each True Value Man of the Race Award winner receives $1,000 with an additional $1,000 going to the charity of his choice.
Who will join Elliott and first-quarter nominee Kyle Petty as the third- quarter recipient will be announced September 16th.
Daytona Beach, FL--Despite being disappointed to see the three Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets sweep past him and push him back to a fourth-place finish, Bill Elliott was happy after Sunday's Daytona 500.
"Nobody ever dreamed we would have as good a Daytona 500 as we had today," said Elliott, who missed seven races last season after being involved in a wreck at Talladega.
"That's the most positive way I have started the year in a long time. I guyess it's more satisfying that winning here in 1987."
As the race came down to the final 12 laps, Elliott was hoping Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt would race for second behind him and allow him to get away.
"Man, I tell you, that thing would go," he said of his Ford Thunderbird. "I had a hourse and I could ride it....I think this goes to show I can still drive a race car."
Daytona Beach, FL--The driver formerly known as Awesome Bill from Dawsonville may be Awesome Bill Again.
Bill Elliott has been anything but awesome for the past 58,000 miles or so.
For the past four years, he has looked more like a guy stuck in five o'clock traffic than the man who blew the stock car racing world away with his exhaust pipe in winning the 1988 Winston Cup championship.
And then Thursday, with the sun shining on his red, white and yellow Ford, Elliott, the also-ran, suddenly came racing from somewhere obscure into third place in the second of two 125-mile races around Daytona International Speedway.
Third might not sound all that swift, but it turned some necks in the garage area, expecially how it happened.
These two 125-mile races are used to qualify most of the field for Sunday's Daytona 500. They are also a chance to see what everyone has for the big season opener.
Dale Jarrett won the first race, Dale Earnhardt the second. No surprises there. They're the ones you're going to have to pass if you're going to win this thing Sunday. Elliott might pass them. He has had some fast practice laps this week, and Thursday, he came screaming from back in the pack to challenge in the late stages before finishing third.
Jarrett watched the second race from the press box and said, "Bill Elliott is going to be a definite factor Sunday."
Elliott went into great detail to describe how he had driven the race and made up the ground, but basically he just said he found a faster way around.
Listening to Bill Elliott, who still has a boyishness about his counternace at age 41, is a little like listening to Gomer Pyle. He's bright and articulate but he has kept his Dawsonville manner of speaking through all the championship presentations and all the interviews and all the conversations with his bankers, who probably privately refer to him as Dollar Bill, considering he's won more that $16 million.
That down-home manner, as much as anything else, might be why, despite the fact that he has won only once in his past 116 races, Awesome Bill has been voted the most popular Winston Cup driver 11 times.
In the early days of his career, he and his brothers built the cars in a modest shop in rural Dawsonville, GA., and Elliott drove those cars to win after win. In 1985, he won 11 races and everyone was prowling around trying to find out his secret.
There wasn't one. He just won. Three of his wins were in major races, the last of those the Southern 500 at Darlington, and that earned him a $1 million bonus called the Winston Million.
He has won 40 races, but most of those came before the recent slump, before personal problems came along and the family operation broke up and winning became a sometimes thing, then a no times thing.
Now, he's back with his brother Ernie in Dawsonville and now he can come sweeping from back in the pack to make us consider the possibilities some Sunday.
"On Sunday, you'll have a lot more cars out there and a lot more going on," he said, "but the car drove well. That's the main thing. It felt good to be back up there again."
Winston Cup champion Bill Elliott in the 1980s went out and set a closed course record in NASCAR with an underposered Ford Thunderbird and became known as the fastest man alive. "Something has to be done," said General Motors and NASCAR.
A call went out for dozens of electric drills with carbide- tipped bits and men to handle the chores of this Bill France-sanctioned humiliation to shame Ford Motor Company and the Elliott family, which failed.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands of holes were drilled into the
No. 94 T-Bird, hoping to find the source of power that made up two laps
under green, gained positions on the track, lapped the field at Talladega
more than twice without a spotter and, unlike a former champion who lost
out in 1196, never touched or interfered with another car on the track.
-Bob Lucas (Jefferson, SC)
1997 - 2002 Angie B Kaiser