Thursday, September 20, 2007

Bill Elliot: Greatest NASCAR Driver 1985


The 1985 season turned out to be a good one for NASCAR fans.
For the first time, Winston began a program that would award an unheard of one million dollars to any driver that could win three of the four crown jewels of NASCAR, including the Daytona 500 (the most prestigious race), the Winston 500 (the fastest race), the Coca-Cola World 600 (the longest race), and the Southern 500 (the oldest race). It had only been done twice in NASCAR history, and was so rare that R.J. Reynolds did not budget the money for its Winston Cup sponsorship.

However, a red head from Georgia in a red Thunderbird proved that was a mistake in judgment. Bill Elliott began the season by winning the pole for the Daytona 500 and dominating the race, leading 136 of the 200 laps on the way to victory. His next charge toward fame came at Talladega in the Winston 500. On lap 48 of 188, however, an oil line came loose on Elliott's car and he lost nearly two laps while having it repaired.

Elliott returned to the track, and in less than 100 laps, made up enough ground to recapture the lead and win the Winston 500. Remember, Talladega is a superspeedway where speeds exceed 200 mph!
Bill was well on his way: 2 races down with 2 wins. Only one more win out of 2 races and Bill would be the first Million dollar winner in NASCAR history.

Elliott's first shot at the million-dollar prize came at the Coca-Cola World 600, but mechanical problems knocked him out of the race. His final chance came at Darlington, in the Southern 500. Elliott started from the pole, but battled with Cale Yarborough throughout the race for the lead until Cale's car erupted in smoke from a broken power steering line. Elliott took the lead and went on to win the first Winston Million. Elliot also became the first ever NASCAR driver to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Another interesting fact is that just 5 years prior, in 1980, Elliot almost lost his racing career due to lack of sponsorship and financing. That would never be a problem for him again.


Bill Elliot's 1985 Ford Thunderbird

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Al, maybe this post should be the beginning of your NASCAR blog...actually, I know nothing about NASCAR but for the 80s blog I can think of nothing better than a potential blog entry about the greatest action/drama of that decade---MacGyver. Perhaps you could enlist fellowbloggers for guest editorials on such topics, e.g. The A-Team, Atari, Q-bert, Thundercats, Buck Rogers, Transformers, He-Man, Smurfs.


Josh Richards

Josh and Sarah Cox said...

I'm with Josh on the MacGyver thing! That guy could make a bomb out of a straw and some sweet and low!

Allyn Paul said...

Ok guys, I will put something up about Richard Dean Anderson, aka Macgyver.

THanks for the suggestions.
AL

Serepta said...

Great work.