Decades: Bill Elliott Made History in the 80's


Similar to David Pearson’s dominance in the 1970’s, Bill Elliott had very similar success in the 1980’s at Michigan International Speedway.

With all seven of his NASCAR Cup victories at MIS coming in the 80’s, Elliott was the most successful driver of that decade, which included a special four-race stretch during the 1985 and 1986 seasons.

With already one MIS victory under his belt in 1984, Elliott managed to sweep the 1985 season with victories in the Miller 400 and Champion Spark Plug 400. Although it was an impressive run for Elliott that year, which saw him win 11 times, 1986 would prove to be even more memorable for “Awesome Bill from Dawosnville” at MIS.

In 1986, Elliott pulled off his third straight MIS victory by taking the checkers for the June Miller American 400. He entered the August 16 Champion Spark Plug 400 with the chance to win four-in-a-row at the two-mile Irish Hills oval.

With a controversial 1.34 second victory over a red-hot Tim Richmond, Elliott would get that fourth straight win. It was a controversial win due to a misinterpretation of when a caution occurred late in the race, which caused Richmond to fall back from second to fifth. Richmond would charge to the front in the final laps but couldn’t catch Elliott on the final lap.

With the win, Elliott is the first and only driver in track history to complete the double-double, by winning both Cup races in ’85 and ’86. What made the victories even more special was the fact that they were also wins for team owner Harry Melling of Jackson, Mich.

“I don’t know why I have this kind of luck here,” Elliott would say after his fourth straight win. “I guess it’s just a combination of where the car, the track and the driver compliment each other.”

Elliott would go on to win two more Cup races at MIS, giving him seven total (all for owner Harry Melling), which ranks him third all-time in track history behind David Pearson (9) and Cale Yarborough (8). He also ranks second all-time at MIS in poles (6), most starts (56) and miles completed (20,426).

“I had so much success at MIS. It was a great place for me during my career and the track and surrounding communities are still a special place for me,” Elliott said.

The speedway is looking for race fans’ recollections of the speedway.

“With three weeks remaining, the excitement is building for our LifeLock 400 weekend and the start of our 40th anniversary season,” track President Roger Curtis said. “We have a lot of fun initiatives planned for the anniversary and hope race fans will take the opportunity to buy a seat for the race and start building their own memories at Michigan International Speedway.”

Should race fans have a moment they’d like to share – on-track or off – send them to today. Yours could be featured on the speedway’s Web site. Please be sure to include photos and contact information where you can be reached.

The LifeLock 400 weekend, which will also feature the ARCA RE/MAX Series on June 13 and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Cool City Customs 200 on June 14, will kick off the speedway’s 40th season of racing in the Irish Hills in 2008. Tickets remain for the LifeLock 400. Many more memories are sure to be experienced.

To order tickets, pit passes, camping or hospitality packages, call the MIS Ticket Hotline at 800-354-1010 or visit

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