Elder helped guide some of NASCAR’s biggest stars to Victory Lane.
- Position:Crew Chief
Jake Elder may not have stayed in one place very long, but he left his mark every stop he made.
Known as “Suitcase Jake” for his propensity to switch organizations, Elder helped guide some of NASCAR’s biggest stars to Victory Lane.
After a stint as a welder for Petty Enterprises, Elder moved to Holman-Moody under the tutelage of Ralph Moody. He won the 1967 Daytona 500 as crew chief for Mario Andretti followed by consecutive championships with David Pearson.
While not formally educated, Elder knew more about building race cars than most of his peers. He had a unique style and preferred to do things his own way.
Beyond his mechanical genius, Elder had a penchant for working with aggressive, up-and-coming drivers. He helped Darrell Waltrip to his first two career victories and set him up for a Hall of Fame career. Four years later he sent Dale Earnhardt to his first Victory Lane. He led Earnhardt for the first 13 races of his 1980 championship season before, appropriately enough, packing up and moving on to his next opportunity.