At 13 years old, most people are caught up in the social dogma that is middle school, sleeping-in on weekends, and barely within two years of jumping behind the wheel of an automobile. NASCAR champion Bill Elliott’s son Chase Elliott is no average 13-year-old.
After a successful run in Legends cars, Elliott decided to promote his son to the late model ranks this season. Chase drives for his father’s race team, Bill Elliott Driver Development or Bill Elliott Racing, along with teammates Casey Roderick, Trey Poole and John King. Though each driver is young, Elliott is by far the youngest, but has already achieved the most success in his No. 9 Aaron’s Lucky Dog Ford.
Already reaching speeds that most people never achieve on highways, Elliott quickly made good impressions in late models, scoring solid finishes in his first few races. His father, along with mother Cindy, decided that the best move to further Chase’s development would be to drive the full schedule for the Georgia Asphalt Series (GAS), which campaigns over half of the schedule out of Lanier National Speedway, not far from the family’s home in Dawsonville, Ga. The series is owned and run by the same people that run Lanier.
The Elliott presence in the series has been immediately felt, as attendance for GAS races has transcended the downturn in the economy. But the most notable Elliott does not make his presence a shadow over his son. While Bill attends as many of Chase’s races as his Sprint Cup Series schedule allows, he usually keeps a low profile at the track unless the promoters talk him into signing autographs before races. Elliott usually stays in the team’s hauler before climbing onto the top of the truck to be Chase’s spotter. This allows Chase and his teammates, as well as other drivers in the GAS Series, to maintain their own identity.
Chase’s first GAS win came back in May at Lanier in just the third race of the GAS season, and the youngster has gone on to win a second time (at a track run by David Ragan’s uncle Marvin, called Watermelon Capital Speedway in central Georgia). He also has finished well in every other race and is in a tight battle with teammate Roderick atop the GAS points standings.
Elliott’s most crowning achievement of his budding career came this past weekend in Anderson, S.C. at Anderson Speedway, where he started sixth and guided his No. 9 methodically around the top five cars to score his first win in the ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour Series and become the series’ youngest winner. The night before, Elliott made his super late model debut (the GAS and ASA/SAT Series race pro late models, which have less horsepower) at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla., where he got caught up in a wreck on the first lap and finished 18th out of 23 cars. Still, his transition to a higher class of car is another step in a rapidly accelerating career pace.
While it may be easy to say that Chase has a head and shoulders advantage above the rest of the competition, it is not entirely the case. Bill makes Chase work in the race shop and has taught his son how to drive the car with the perfect mix of care and aggression. While he has gotten in a couple of on-track skirmishes, his driving style has been smooth, for the most part, and has caught the eye of many who have been following motorsports for years. Despite “Million Dollar Bill’s” obvious wealth, Elliott and his teammates have had to learn that they do not have unlimited means. While Bill Elliott Racing has some brand new chassis, the main chassis that the drivers have been using are several years old, but still run well. This ability to conserve and still compete is a good quality for Chase to learn in a world where many outlive their means and take the wealth they have for granted.
Chase also has a couple of jobs outside of racing. The 13-year-old just started back to school this week and has to complete all of his classes and schoolwork, despite missing some school time to make trips to various races. He also worked in the famous Dawsonville Pool Room (the restaurant where owner Gordon Pirkle used to sound a siren every time Elliott won a race) early in the summer, washing dishes and helping where he could, but had to give that job up because he realized he could not juggle his duties at both the race shop and the restaurant.
Another important quality Chase has learned from his father is his looseness with the media. In my several interviews with him, he has always been relaxed, polite and very open. If Chase needs to make a little bit of dough, maybe he could give Kyle Busch some media relations lessons.
As the season winds down and the accolades keep pouring in, Chase and his crew chief Ricky Turner, along with the rest of the Bill Elliott Racing team will continue to press on, completing the GAS schedule and competing in other various races around the southeast. Already with a mention in Sports Illustrated as an up and coming driver to look out for and with unwavering support from both fans and family, the sky is the limit and the expectations are high for the a son chasing the dreams of many on a path etched by his legendary dad.
You can find more info about Chase on ChaseElliott.com, including the weekly Bill Elliott Racing Podcast, hosted by Doug “Fireball” Turnbull. Chase’s GAS race broadcasts, where Doug is an announcer, can be heard on racefanradio.com and on ESPN 1240 The Ticket in Gainesville, Ga.
Listen to Doug weekly on The Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln Mercury 120 with Captain Herb Emory on News/Talk 750 WSB in Atlanta and online at wsbradio.com, on Saturdays from 2-4 p.m. You can also hear Doug co-host a North Georgia racing show, The Lead Lap, Saturdays from 10-11 a.m., on ESPN 1240 The Ticket in Gainesville, Ga. and online at racefanradio.com.