By Rick Houston
When Bill Elliott first broke into NASCAR, the glare of the spotlight wasn‘t much of a concern. That was for the hot dogs, the drivers at the front of the field each and every week, the ones with a legitimate chance to win.
Elliott did show flashes of brilliance, but simply economics prevented any kind of real consistency. It suited the quiet Georgian just fine to toil in anonymity, working underneath the hood of his car rather than chatting up reporters.
But then came sponsorship from Harry Mellling … and then the Michigan businessman actually bought the team and landed sponsorship from Coors beer for the 1984 Winston Cup season. After winning the first race of his career in the 1983 season finale, Elliott added three more the following year. It was a good season, to be sure, but nothing could‘ve prepared the NASCAR world for the onslaught that was about to take place in 1985.
Eleven superspeedway wins … the Winston Million … 1985 was the year Bill Elliott became Awesome Bill From Dawsonville. It was a dream season, but along with that meteoric success came the kind of attention from media and fans that very few in the sport had ever known.
Driving fast came naturally to Elliott … working a room did not. He was an introvert in an extrovert‘s world, and it showed. He learned to cope, but how? This is his story.
For more than 32 years, Grand National/Winston Cup/NASCAR Scene writers and photographers were there to record NASCAR history as it was being made. Join hosts Rick Houston and Steve Waid each week on The Scene Vault Podcast Presented by Q Ware as they take a look back at the extraordinary people, places and events woven into the rich tapestry that is our sport.
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