A Look Back: How 1984 Bank of America 500 Helped Put Bill Elliott on Track To NASCAR Hall of Fame Career
Thirty years ago, three brothers from the tiny north Georgia mountain town of Dawsonville began their meteoric rise from obscurity to international stardom with their victory in the 1984 Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The win was the second of three that year for Bill Elliott - who will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in January - and his older brothers Ernie and Dan; and it helped set the stage for an unbelievable 1985 season that produced 11 victories.
"The things we were able to do and the things we did at the time we did it, I think, was a total miracle," the now 59-year-old Bill Elliott said when recalling the Charlotte victory that was his first on a southern track. "Back then you could work hard, put your stuff together and you could figure stuff out, and you could be good. Today, it's just so much money. If you're not connected in some way, you just can't put it all together anymore."
In October 1984, the Elliotts headed to Charlotte Motor Speedway with only two victories in their pocket - the 1983 season finale on the road course in Riverside, California and the following year at the two-mile Michigan International Speedway.
When the October 1984 race began weather conditions were sunny, making the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway hot and slick. Conditions the potent Elliott Ford Thunderbird didn't like.
"We weren't worth a crap," Dan Elliott recalled. "We almost got lapped."
But once it became cloudy "we were Jack the bear" Dan Elliott recalled. It was the team's most convincing victory to date as Bill Elliott dominated the race's second half. He was virtually unchallenged over the final 167 laps. When the checkered flag waved, Bill Elliott led runner-up and pole starter Benny Parsons by 14.5 seconds.
The now 67-year-old Ernie Elliott said the victory "solidified the fact that we could win races on a regular basis."
"If you don't let it get you down, nothing will prepare you better than defeat. If you're competitively driven, you will continue to work to make your program better," Ernie Elliott noted. "That's basically what we did in '84. We ran good in '84. That (Charlotte win) just sort of capped everything off and gave us the momentum when we needed the momentum."
Two weeks after the Charlotte win, Bill Elliott rolled into Victory Lane at North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham, N.C. For the 30-race 1984 season, Bill Elliott's statistics showed three victories, four poles, 13 top-five and 24 top-10 finishes. His average finish was 8.6, which led to a third-place finish in the standings.
When talking about the 1984 season, Dan Elliott fondly recalls how their parents attended the races and the family was a cohesive unit. He describes it as "absolutely a momentum, team building, couldn't believe what we were doing" year.
"We were a little team out of Dawsonville," Dan Elliott said. "The town was behind you, the people were behind you, the papers; everybody couldn't get enough of you. All of that hype, bandwagon stuff, everybody was on it. It was almost like you could do no wrong. This is where I attribute the glory of God in all this stuff because if it were not, I know we wouldn't be where we are today. It's not until everything goes away and the problems come that you realize how truly blessed you were."
At Charlotte Motor Speedway - and especially at the Bank of America 500 - recent history as taught fans to expect the unexpected. Fans won't want to miss any of the action as they could see the next great NASCAR star rise to the challenge during the only Saturday night race in the Chase.
From knockout qualifying on Thursday during Bojangles' Pole Night and the NASCAR Nationwide Series' best battling on Friday in the Drive for the Cure 300 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina to the only Saturday night race in the Chase, the Bank of America 500, fans can catch all the fun with weekend packages starting at just $99. To purchase tickets, call the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or buy online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.
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