Chase Elliott unveiled his special paint scheme for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ annual throwback race at Darlington Raceway at the Hendrick Motorsports shop on Tuesday.
The blue-and-yellow scheme on his No. 9 Chevrolet is a nod to Elliott’s late cousin Casey Elliott, who ran a similar look in a variety of colors in the NASCAR Southeast Pro Series and two races in the Xfinity Series in 1993. Casey Elliott passed away in 1996 at the of age 21 from bone cancer, 47 days after his cousin Chase was born.
Chase Elliott, along with father and Hall of Fame driver Bill Elliott and Casey’s father and renowned engine builder Ernie Elliott, were on hand for the official unveil at the team’s campus. It was an idea the younger Elliott dreamt up during a production shoot last season and worked with Casey’s sisters to make it happen.
“I had the idea last year and unfortunately we already had other plans. … He was 94, so I might draw a 4 next to the 9 when we get there,” Elliott told NASCAR.com with a smile after the reveal. “… Our family has some pretty rich history in racing. Been doing it for a long time and it’s an honor to still be doing it and try to carry it forward and do my part there.
“I never got the chance to get to know Casey, but I always heard my fair share of stories and certainly always heard he was a good guy and I know everyone liked him and the biggest thing was how much everybody missed him. And I think that kind of showed the true story of what kind of person he was.”
Born into a racing family, Casey Elliott’s longtime dream came to fruition when he began racing in NASCAR’s Southeast Pro Series. He earned the pole position in his official series debut in 1992 at Lanier National Speedway, finishing second and earned eight top-10 finishes in his two-year career in the series.
He was set to begin racing full time in the Busch Grand National Series in 1994, when he received his bone cancer diagnosis that disallowed him from racing. Following that, Elliott became involved motorsports ministry Motor Racing Outreach until his death on Jan. 14, 1996.
“It’s a tough thing to bring up in a lot of ways because it was a tough time for everybody back then,” Chase Elliott said on the ideation for the scheme. “Just wanted to make sure I did it the right way and try to bring it as positive as a manner as I could and hopefully go to the race track and do the same there.”
For the the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports driver, the paint scheme is a way to honor his cousin and share his story, which is one that not everyone knows.
“We’ve done my dad’s throwbacks the past couple years and obviously everybody knows him and knows his history in racing, but not everybody knows about Casey and his history in racing,” Chase Elliott said. “He was off to a great start before he got sick and was racing what is now the Xfinity Series and was doing a good job at it. Could have had an opportunity to move on and be racing in Cup. …
“Honor him is the biggest thing. Because I didn’t have a chance to get to know him, I felt like this was a cool thing to do. Just make people aware that there was another Elliott that was coming along racing that had a great shot to go do things and unfortunately ended too soon.”
Bill Elliott and Ernie Elliott saw the scheme for the first time Tuesday as they pulled back the black cover off the No. 9 to unveil the tribute to Casey Elliott.
With the photo of Casey’s No. 94 projected behind him, Bill Elliott smiled when he reminisced on his nephew.
“Casey was always kind of playing jokes,” he told NASCAR.com. “But he had an old Ranger pick-up that had a tag on the front that said ‘who knows, who cares.’ And that was kind of the way he lived. I could tell you story after story of the things that kind of we went through, going to the races and following him around the race track and the things that Casey did. And hell, even helping me back in the 80s, back when we were racing a lot. You’d see him in the garage trying to help not only Ernie, but myself. …
“He was just such a good kid and he had such a good outlook on life and he’ll always be remembered.”
For Ernie Elliott, having Chase run a scheme that honors his son is “special,” for more than just sentimental reasons. He hopes it brings awareness – and in turn, helps advance research – for the disease that took his son away.
“He was a really good kid,” he said. “Really loved racing and that’s what he wanted to do. Things just didn’t work that direction – you never know where life’s going to take you. … Hopefully a lot of good will come out of it. …
“I think the more important thing is … the honor of recognizing (him) this way but also the fact of what he went through the last couple years of his life and bringing that to life because cancer research needs to go at a fast pace than what it’s going today. It is considerably better than what it was 25 years ago, but there’s still more that can be done. And to be able to do this, hopefully that brings some emphasis to those programs, that they can be properly funded or funded better than what they are right now.”