This past Saturday, two Dawsonville drivers, competed in a stock car race in Nashville, Tennesee. You may have heard of them before — Bill and Chase Elliott.
The venue was one of the most legendary short tracks of the south, Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, a fast, banked, half-mile oval that's played host to numerous stock car racing tours over the decades.
But this one was special.
It was the season finale for the inaugural SRX season and the first time in nearly 10 years that the father-son Elliott duo have formally competed against each other.
Event organizers were hoping for 10,000 attendees, but were hit with a whopping 15,000 and were sold out of tickets hours before the race even started. It was the largest attendance the track had seen since the 1970s!
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I was lucky enough to have been able to attend the race in person, as well as about half of Dawsonville it seemed. It's been a while since I've seen such passionate fans at the track. The grandstands were shoulder to shoulder with Number 9 gear. Have you ever heard a crowd cheer loud enough to be heard over the field of cars passing by? It was a sight to be seen and heard. The fans are what helped build the sport of stockcar racing, and by all means, will keep it going. The SRX series has done an awesome job of keeping fan involvement and making it fun for fans.
As far as the racing goes, Bill and Chase put on a show that will be remembered for years to come. Although the younger Elliott would prevail in the race, the elder Elliott held his own and the lead for a majority of the race, only to get shuffled back on a restart to finish 3rd.
For older fans, it was like reliving Bill's successful years in the 1980s. For newer fans, it was great to see he can still be successful and competitive and run door to door. It'll be a race that folks will talk about for years to come.
It was a special win for a number of reasons. For one, it's not every day you get a father-son duo in the same race, let alone Bill and Chase. Chase raced under the Number 94 for the night, a number he used briefly early in his career and a number his father used for 5 years in the 1990s.
And even more so, it was a tribute to Casey Elliott. Casey was Ernie's son, who also raced at Nashville on occasion with his Number 94 car before passing away in 1996.
And finally, I like hundreds among thousands of other fans got to see their heroes all compete for a podium finish. For me personally, when Bill retired from competing full-time in NASCAR following the 2003 season, I became a Tony Stewart fan. And as Tony was stepping away, naturally Chase was just coming into the Cup Series. To see all three drivers I have pulled for over the years finish 1-2-3 was something very special.
My hope is for more short tracks with packed crowds. More grassroots door-to-door racing. More fathers and son's being able to compete against one another. And for another season of SRX. If you've watched it, I think you would agree.
Racers from Dawsonville have been racing around half-mile ovals in some form or fashion since Stock Car Racing was introduced in the South about 9 decades ago. My hope is for more Dawsonville history to be made for more decades to come.