When Chase Elliott won his first NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International Raceway, on August 5, 2018, it became a huge media event for the whole NASCAR nation and all of its’ fans. Ever since Chase moved up to the Cup Series, he has been compared to his famous NASCAR Hall of Fame dad, Bill Elliott. Everyone has speculated as to when and where that first win would come. We now have our answer and now we can all wait for the next win.
Chase Elliott’s road course win was compared to Bill Elliott’s first win, which was also on a road course. Bill’s first win came at the November 20, 1983 Winston Western 500 at the Riverside International Raceway in California. In contrast to Chase’s huge media event, Bill’s win was much less of a media event for a first time winner in the Cup Series.
At the time of Bill’s first win the Elliott brothers, Ernie, Dan and Bill were still widely unknown. Bill was just a driver from Dawsonville, Georgia with a funny accent. Like Chase he also had eight second place finishes before his first win. Chase won his on 99th race and Bill won his on 155th. The day he won his first race members of the media flocked to ninth place finisher Bobby Allison, who had just won his first Cup Championship. All of that would change and Bill would soon become “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville.”
Dawsonville, Georgia is more than the hometown of the Elliott family. It has long been associated with moonshine and the bootleggers that delivered moonshine from Dawson County to Atlanta and other cities in Georgia. Many of the local bootleggers became race drivers in the early days of NASCAR. Their talents were honed on the back roads of northern Georgia while being chased by the law.
Bill France Sr. hated the moon shiners and their reputations because he felt that they threatened NASCAR’s image as a family sport. He was trying to build NASCAR into a legitimate racing series and he felt the moon shiners were ruining that image with their outlaw reputation. There were many stories of a driver getting out of his race car and leaving the race track before a law officer could arrest him.
Dawsonville was also the boyhood home of a moon shiner by the name of Raymond Parks. He ran moonshine to Atlanta and he took his earnings and became a wealthy Atlanta business man. He was the first NASCAR team owner and he became the first NASCAR’s Strictly Stock Series owner’s champion. His driver was Red Byron who became NASCARS first driver’s champion.
In 2017 he was inducted into NASCAR’s Hall of Fame. He also was a member of the group that formed NASCAR at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach, Florida. He died on June 26, 2010 at the age of 96 and was the last living member of that group.
Chase Elliott gave Hendrick Motorsports its’ 250th win. Three other drivers have contributed to other milestone wins. Geoff Bodine its’ first. Jeff Gordon its’ 50th and 100th. Jimmie Johnson its’ 150th and 200th.