Bill Elliott. Yes, simply, Bill Elliott. There is no larger connection I have with my dad than Elliott. We both love the Falcons, and Braves, and Georgia Tech, and everyone in Georgia, but it’s different with Elliott.
My first sporting event was NASCAR qualifying, when I was about two. My first race came when I was barely four years old. And it was all to pull for Bill Elliott.
Elliott was a Georgia boy, my dad followed him as a youngster himself, and enjoyed every moment of his hey day as he arrived on the scene in a big way in Winston Cup in the early 80’s. The passion was passed down to me.
A World Series, a Super Bowl, a national title, a Final Four, they’re all great. But an Elliott win, yeah, none of those could measure up.
Lately, I’ve had my passion for NASCAR wane. My dad’s passion has pretty much completely disappeared. It’s no secret that the demise of your passion for the sport coincided with the retiring, or turn to part-time racer, of Bill Elliott.
Well, Saturday night was a blast to the past. My dad and I went to Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, Georgia, to watch the George Elliott 100. We arrived just in time for the feature. The features poll winner was a kid named Chase, Chase Elliott. Yeah, the son of my lifelong hero, Bill.
Forget the fact that car racing is just cool, and the noises and the smell are just awesome. It was watching a 9 car with an Elliott behind the wheel dominate. And not just somebody named Elliott, someone who was the son of Bill.
Together we watched every lap with intensity. As the laps wound down and the 2nd place car pulled ot Elliott’s back bumper and put tons of pressure on the youngster, both of us looked on with worry.
Elliott drove beyond his years, holding off the challenger, and winning the race. My dad and I both cheered, and rather loudly, as we watched a car with the number 9 on it take a checkered flag, with an Elliott behind the wheel.
When we first arrived, one of the first things we noticed was Bill on top of the press box spotting for Chase. We may have spent as much time watching Bill spot for Chase, and watching the intensity with which he watched over his son, as we spent watching Chase. Okay, maybe not that much time, but we took a few glances up that way.
After the race, as Bill climbed down from the tower, my dad got to shake Bill’s hand and tell him job well done. It had been at least 10 years since I’d seen Bill myself, even longer for my dad. But for that moment, there he was, the biggest bond we have connecting us through all my life, and he was shaking dad’s hand.
Dad was immediately a car racing fan again, a big one. It was, in two words, damn cool.
There are certain father/son moments you remember as a kid, and then there are those you remember as an adult. Saturday night was one of those I’ll always remember as an adult.