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Curator's Corner / Hall of Famers

10 Awesome Bill Elliott Paint Schemes

Over his lengthy Hall of Fame career, Georgia racer Bill Elliott had plenty of good-looking race cars.

In a career that stretched from 1976 all the way to 2012, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott (Class of 2015) was synonymous with speed.

Known to his beloved fan base as “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville,” Elliott won 44 Cup Series races and 55 poles, along with the 1988 series championship. The Georgia native also holds the record for the fastest NASCAR qualifying lap ever run, 212.809 mph, which was set at Alabama International Motor Speedway (now Talladega Superspeedway) in 1987. Elliott’s record-setting pole award is on display in the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Heritage Speedway.

Also on exhibit in Heritage Speedway is the $1 million check Elliott received in 1985 for winning the Winston Million, a bonus from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. awarded to Elliott when he won three of NASCAR’s four biggest races in 1985: the Daytona 500, the Winston 500 at Talladega and the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

In addition to his on-track accolades, Elliott won NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver a record 16 times, leaving no doubt as to how NASCAR fans felt about him.

Given Elliott’s track record, it makes it a perfect time to look at 10 of his most memorable paint schemes.

Driving an unsponsored Mercury owned by his father George, Bill Elliott finished eighth in the 1978 Daytona 500 and ninth in the Firecracker 400. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center/CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images

From 1976-81, Elliott was part of a true family effort fielding a NASCAR team. Patriarch George Elliott owned the Ford and Mercury cars that Bill drove, with Bill’s brother Ernie serving as crew chief and engine builder. Another brother, Dan, built the rear-end gears and worked as a mechanic.

Qualifying on the pole at a blistering speed of 205.114 mph, Bill Elliott won the 1985 Daytona 500, setting the tone for a dominant season. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center/CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images

After joining forces with car owner Harry Melling, Elliott became a key driver to beat in NASCAR. Although he finished a close second to Darrell Waltrip in the 1985 championship race, Elliott had a career-best season with 11 race victories and 11 poles in addition to 16 top-five finishes, which he would equal two years later.

During his 1988 championship season Bill Elliott’s Ford Thunderbird carried the colors of sponsors Coors and Motorcraft. Photo courtesy of Chris Graythen/Getty Images

From 1983-87, Elliott finished second in points twice, third twice and fourth once. In 1988, he was finally able to secure the Cup Series championship, winning six races and six poles, with 15 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes.

The 1992 season ended with Bill Elliott finishing second in points for the third and final time in his career. Photo courtesy of the NASCAR Hall of Fame Permanent Collection, Gift of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.

Moving to Junior Johnson & Associates for 1992, Elliott made another charge towards a championship. After finishing 27th in the season-opening Daytona 500, Elliott won the next four races and became the early title favorite. At the final race of the year at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Elliott was one of five drivers in title contention. The battle turned out to be one of the most iconic races in NASCAR history, as it was the last Cup Series start for Richard Petty (Class of 2010) and the first for Jeff Gordon (Class of 2019). Elliott won the Hooters 500 at Atlanta but lost the championship to independent owner/driver Alan Kulwicki (Class of 2019), who picked up 5 bonus points for most laps led – 103 for Kulwicki, 102 for Elliott. With the bonus points, Kulwicki won the title by 10 points over Elliott.

McDonald’s came aboard to sponsor Bill Elliott’s Ford Thunderbird when he started his own team in 1995. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center/CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images

With his former boss Junior Johnson (Class of 2010) getting set to exit NASCAR, Elliott struck out on his own in 1995, becoming an owner/driver. Fast-food giant McDonald’s signed on as Elliott’s primary sponsor, beginning a relationship that continued through 2000, Elliott’s final year as a team owner.

In his first race with Ray Evernham’s factory start-up Dodge team, Bill Elliott qualified on the pole for the 2001 Daytona 500 in the No. 9 Evernham Motorsports Dodge Intrepid. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center/CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images

In one of his bolder career moves, Elliott agreed to drive for car owner Ray Evernham (Class of 2018) and his all-new Dodge team, the first factory effort for the automaker since the 1970s. In the season-opening 2001 Daytona 500, Elliott qualified on the pole and finished fifth in the race. Later that season, Elliott would deliver the first race victory for Evernham Motorsports, capturing the Pennzoil Freedom 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

A victory in the 2002 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a signature triumph for both Bill Elliott and Evernham Motorsports. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

In three full-time seasons driving for Evernham Motorsports, Elliott won at least once in each year and captured two races in 2002. Elliott’s most memorable triumph in the No. 9 Dodge came in the 2002 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he qualified second and led 93 of 160 laps, passing Rusty Wallace (Class of 2013) with 12 laps to go to secure the race win.

In 2008, Bill Elliott drove the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford in 20 races. Photo courtesy of John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR

After his three-year stint driving for Evernham ended in 2003, Elliott switched to part-time status, running anywhere from two to 20 races over the next nine seasons. One of those stints was driving for the Wood Brothers Racing team, where Elliott became the 10th Hall of Fame inductee to drive for the legendary, Stuart, Virginia-based team.

In his final Daytona 500 appearance, Bill Elliott finished 12th while driving for James Finch. Photo courtesy of Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR

A two-time Daytona 500 winner, Elliott made his final appearance in the Great American Race a memorable one. Driving a Chevrolet for James Finch’s independent team, Elliott finished in 12th place, an impressive result for a driver with a small team.

Bill Elliott’s final NASCAR start was in an Xfinity Series road race in 2018. Photo courtesy of Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Although Elliott’s last full-time season of racing was in 2003, the Georgia racer came out of retirement in 2018 to compete in the Johnsonville 180 NASCAR Xfinity Series race on the 4.048-mile Road America road course event in Wisconsin. Driving a Chevrolet owned by Maury Gallagher, Elliott qualified 23rd and finished a respectable 20th.

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Tom Jensen

Tom Jensen

Tom is the Curatorial Affairs Manager at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. For more than 25 years, he has been part of the NASCAR media industry.

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