The date was September 1, 1985. The sports world's eyes were focused on Darlington, South Carolina and its legendary speed arena. Bill Elliottt, driving the Coors/Melling Thunderbird, was attempting to capture the largest payday in the history of motorsports.
NASCAR's premier series sponsor, the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and its Winston brand, had committed a one million dollar bonus to any team who could win three of the "Big Four" events on the Winston Cup Calendar. The four races would comprise "The Winston Million" and the crown jewels would be the Daytona 500, Talladega's Winston 500, Charlotte's World 600 and the Southern 500 at Darlington.
In 1985 Bill Elliott, from Dawsonville, Georgia, had become "Awesome Bill From Dawsonville". He arrived at Darlington for the September classic having won nine races including the Daytona 500 and Talladega's Winston 500. Elliott was poised to become "Million Dollar Bill"!
Green Flag! The million dollar race thundered to life and pole sitter Elliott led the 40 car field into the first turn of the famed 1.366-mile track. The red rocket number nine led the first 14 laps but the challengers were in hot pursuit. The handling on Elliott's racer began to deteriorate as the race progressed. The wolves were at the door!
Cale Yarborough and Dale Earnhardt took up the gauntlet. Earnhardt appeared to have the race in hand with his no-holds-barred driving style. Each lap he seemed to take the Wrangler Monte Carlo to the limit as he dirt-tracked the car through Darlington's treacherous asymmetrical turns. On lap 318 the track "Too Tough To Tame" lived up to its heritage as exiting turn two Earnhardt's racer broke loose and spun backwards. Elliott missed the spinning Earnhardt by inches as he continued the quest!
The race was now between the Ford's of Yarborough and Elliott. Yarborough took the lead with 43 laps remaining. Elliott was glued to his bumper as they stormed around the one groove track. Suddenly without warning Yarborough's racer bellowed smoke. A decisive move by Elliott saw him put the number nine Ford low on the apron in turn four, and at the last moment miss the ailing racer of Cale Yarborough to take the lead. Yarborough's mount had been wounded by the loss of its power steering, but the tenacious Yarborough kept the pressure on.
With 40 laps remaining Elliott and Yarborough thrilled the sell-out crowd as they battled to the finish. On the final lap Bill Elliott led Cale Yarborough by only 0.60 seconds as he roared out of turn four and down the front stretch to claim the "Million Dollar Victory"!