The brothers grew up around the short tracks – and NASCAR speedways – of the South following their dad George, who owned Ford race cars and sold racing parts at the local tracks.
In the mid-1970s, the Elliott family began competing on the circuit now known as Monster Energy Cup with Bill, the youngest, doing the driving, while Dan and Ernie helped prepare the cars and worked on pit road, with Dan working on engines as well as handling transmissions and rear ends, plus changing tires during races.
In the beginning, the raced out of an old schoolhouse between Dawsonville and Dahlonega and began their career with a well-worn Ford Thunderbird. Later, the Elliotts purchased a Mercury and assorted parts from Roger Penske and their performance dramatically improved.
By the 1980s, they were the dominant team on the superspeedways and won the first Winston Million, the 1988 championship and set numerous speed records along the way.
Bill Elliott once said his family’s race team’s rise to the top of the sport was nothing short of a miracle.
“It was like Wilbur and Orville Wright taking what they had and flying to the moon,” he said.
Dan Elliott, who gave up his own driving ambitions – he did win a consolation race at Dixie Speedway before he stopped – suffered two serious injuries on pit road as a result of being struck by other drivers and retired from over-the-wall work in 1991.
In 2008, he was named general manager of Gresham Motorsports Park, a track in which his father was once part of the ownership team, and held that position until 2013.