Known as the power behind the engines of one of NASCAR’s most well-respected racing families, Ernie Elliott was named the recipient of the esteemed 2023 Smokey Yunick Award ahead of Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The Smokey Yunick Award, named after the legendary mechanic and innovator Henry "Smokey" Yunick, was instituted in 1997 to recognize an individual from humble beginnings who demonstrated exceptional innovation and made a major impact in the world of motorsports. Yunick passed away in 2001, and Charlotte Motor Speedway has continued the award in his memory.

Elliott joins a lengthy list of NASCAR greats who have received the honor, including Ralph Moody, Ray Evernham, Dale Inman, Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Waddell Wilson and Larry McReynolds. 

Elliott’s nephew, 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott, was presented with the award on his uncle’s behalf by Charlotte Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Greg Walter.

The Dawsonville, Georgia, native’s love for racing began at a young age after joining his father, George Elliott, during trips to Daytona International Speedway in the early 1960s. 

Elliott’s passion was giving the cars the power they needed to win, but his penchant for ingenuity extended beyond machinery. As a crew chief, Elliott became the man responsible for the strategies that propelled his younger brother, Bill Elliott, to more than 30 NASCAR Cup Series wins as well as the 1988 series championship.

As an engine builder, Elliott won 40 NASCAR Cup Series races and recorded 148 top-five finishes and 291 top-10s. He was named Engine Builder of the Year in 1985, and Engine Builder of the Decade for the 1980s.