Good Ol' Boys - NASCAR

Bill Elliott's crew behind the win
By Lin Loflin
October 3, 2000


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"How well can you handle a broom?"  Buddy Cram, Shop Foreman for Bill Elliott, smiles as he relates the answer he gives to guys who ask to work in Bill Elliott's shop near Statesville, North Carolina. 

"We get a lot of people coming in who want to work for us because we are such a close knit group," he continued. "But, no matter how good a mechanic or technician you are, or what position you held with someone else, here you pay your dues. Everyone gets to sweep the shop floor when they are first hired." 

The Bill Elliott shop is a clean, well-run organization. Everyone has a specialty and confidently goes about creating as near perfect a race car as possible. It takes an average of 4-6 weeks to build a car from scratch, with a cost of approximately a quarter of a million dollars per car. It is not unusual for a driver to have up to 14 cars. There are two cars set up for each kind of race track.

"What a lot of people don't realize," Buddy says, "is that the cage with the roll bars is pre-purchased, and is exactly like most of the other race cars you see on the track. We then cut sheet metal and weld it using NASCAR and Ford specifications. We are even careful about the amount of paint we use. Every ounce of weight is carefully considered. 

Wind tunnel tests are set up to enable designers to minimize resistance. Engines, of course, are special made and set up for each individual car. Three engines are prepared for a race. One, for practice; one to qualify, and of course one for the actual race. It is interesting to find that on race day, a crew can repair or replace almost anything except the engine. You will find the shop crew at the race but each will possibly hold an entirely different position. Cram, for example, works as the safety coordinator and tire man during a race. 

It takes 400 man hours to get ready for a race," Buddy reveals. "Each car must meet exact specifications and we take care that they are right on the money. We even have a section of the shop set up with an aluminum plate leveler to perfectly measure the car." 

Fans notice the decals that decorate each race car. Decals can cost as much as $1500 depending on the decal and placement. There are almost 100 separate decals for each car. The huge transfer trailer truck with the Bill Elliott name and logo does more than haul a race car to the track. 

"This is sort of where we live when we're at the track," Buddy said. Not only do the cars fit inside, but there are bins of parts, extra motors, and anything else you can imagine needing for a race. Near the front of the truck interior is a cozy lounge with TV, couches, a table and telephone. From roll bar frame to sheet metal; engine placement to paint and decals, it's a full time job by a productive team. Each member of the crew works diligently. It's THEIR Win too, you know.

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