A Diamond Off the Old Block

Casey Elliott during one of the stopping points en route to his Darlington victory. (NASCAR photo via Getty Images)

Chase Elliott during one of the stopping points en route to his Darlington victory. (NASCAR photo via Getty Images)

Gotta go...to an indie bookstore!

Clinton, S.C., Saturday, April 12, 2014, 10:24 a.m.

I started attending races at Darlington Raceway in 1970 – and stopped in 2013 – but the first time I wrote about one was the CRC Chemicals Rebel 500 in 1981. Darrell Waltrip won it, and a young driver, Bill Elliott, started on the pole.

What I most remember about that race was the realization that the only driver I’d ever seen who reminded me of David Pearson at Darlington was Elliott, who would not win a Winston Cup race anywhere until two and a half years later. He wound up winning five times at the track.

That spring afternoon made me an Elliott fan. The first time I saw Elliott win, as in, being there, was at Charlotte in 1984.

I’m sure when I wrote that I’d covered a race in 1981, several writers who are covering NASCAR now thought, Gee, I wasn’t even born then.

That’s okay. The next generation has fully arrived. Bill isn’t racing, I’m not going to the track to write about it, and Chase Elliott has won consecutive Nationwide Series races.

On this morning, I’m more cognizant than normal of the concept of age.

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The start of Friday night’s Nationwide Series race at Darlington Raceway. (NASCAR photo via Getty Images)

Chase Elliott, 18, still has to do homework. I’d claim he has to recite poetry or diagram sentences, but I’m not sure they do that anymore.

I’m old. I adapt to new technology at precisely the moment when everyone else already has.

"NAPA knowhow, NAPA knowhow ..." (NASCAR photo via Getty Images)

“NAPA knowhow, NAPA knowhow …” (NASCAR photo via Getty Images)

I have never met Chase Elliott and possibly never will. I can tell, though, that he is no clone of his father. Chase is the beneficiary of the preparation that all racers receive in NASCAR’s modern, corporate age. When Bill came along, racers were alarmingly what they were.

Bill was moody. He had an icy stare, and when his ass was on his shoulders, he would have considered a query on Einstein’s Theory of Relativity ignorant. (Not that I would ever ask such a question, or that he would’ve been wrong if I had.) On the other hand, when in a cheery mood, Bill would walk up and shoot the bull a while. Most everything is in between now. No one bites heads off, but it’s hard to prove because they seldom have conversations with media types who are rumored to make less than $100,000 a year.

Perhaps the last driver who gets pissed off and lets people see it is Tony Stewart. Dale Earnhardt was excessively guilty of honesty, too. Those two made the job … interesting. Earnhardt distributed his mood, regardless of the situation. Most of the brats of today just blow up when they lose their tempers, which happens when they lose. They’re all jolly good fellows when they get their ways.

A world of difference in personality spans Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. So, too, I suspect, is there a difference between Elliott Original Recipe and Elliott Extra Crispy. One obvious reason is that sons benefit from the experience of fathers, and they have advantages their dads didn’t. No one’s ever looked down their noses at them. Racing has become a respectable profession, which often happens when populated with the affluent.

The trick is to capitalize on the expertise and advantages of the world-famous daddy without succumbing to the wretched excess of opulence.

By George (Bill’s late father), I think Chase Elliott’s got it.

If you’d like to read my more literary offerings, give wellpilgrim.wordpress.com a look every now and then.

About Monte

For 20 seasons, I mostly wrote about NASCAR. I'm still paying attention, but I'm spending more of my time these days writing novels and songs. I try to blog regularly on whatever happens to strike my fancy.
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7 Responses to A Diamond Off the Old Block

  1. David Layman, Lakeland, Fl. says:

    Great article, reminds me of how much I miss the late Tom McEwen(Tampa Tribune)

  2. Tim says:

    Nice article-I hope that he and some of these other young guys will show their personality and give us a reason to pull for them other than who their fathers or grandfathers are. I think Twitter has opened that up a bit (at least for me) with Junior.

  3. tim murphy says:

    Hey Monte, Great way to look at things as always. How did we get old , what happened to us ?? I miss David Poole and Jack Flowers, both good guy’s. tim murphy

  4. Dee Tanner says:

    Please correct the byline under the first picture. Unfortunately, Casey, Bill’s nephew and who was on a similar path as Chase, passed away in 1996.

  5. Monte says:

    I apologize and will fix it shortly.
    I’m very aware of Casey Elliott, knew him a little. He actually passed away in 1998.
    The truth is, I’m absentminded, and I’ve made that mistake several times since I became a bit miffed at Fox for running a long, detailed feature on Chase’s development and life without making any reference at all to Casey’s tragic story.
    I’ve sort of had Casey on my mind ever since, and I’m embarrassed that I have mentioned him inadvertently several times. This isn’t the first one I’ve fixed.

  6. Tony Geinzer says:

    I like Good Legacies, too, but, I’d like to see good News Writing because people love hard copy Newspapers,too, not replace or delete them entirely.

  7. Monte says:

    I agree, but the market is dying, and that’s what determines the fate. I love newspapers, too, but they’re dying because not enough people buy them. People say, well, there’s not enough in them. That’s for the same reason. Ad revenue falls, and so must the size and the amount of information. A vicious cycle.

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