#9 Ford Gran Torino (1976)
Bill Elliott’s first Winston Cup race car was the George Elliott-owned powder blue #9 Ford Gran Torino sponsored by the family-owned Ford car dealership in Dahlonega, Ga. Bill’s first race in the blue Torino was Feb. 29, 1976 at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, N.C. where Bill started 34th and finished 33rd after his engine expired on lap 32 of 492 laps. Richard Petty won the race in the powder blue #43 STP Dodge.
George Elliott, purchased this Torino from Bobby Allison Racing in late 1975. At that time it was a 1972 body style Ford which the Elliott boys worked on to update to a 1976. The Elliott Family, George, Mildred, Ernie, Dan and Bill loaded up and set off for Rockingham, NC to NASCAR’s top series then named the Grand National series and successfully qualified for their very first race in the series, the Carolina 500 on February 29th, 1976 with a speed of 133.297 mph which gave them a starting position of 34th in the field of 36 cars. This effort was truly a family affair as George and Mildred owned a dealership at the time, Dahlonega Ford who sponsored the Ford and George was also the registered team owner. Of course the car was darned with the number that soon became synonymous with Bill’s storied career #9, which was also a favorite of George’s. But after staying out of trouble and completing his first 64 laps Bill’s day was cut short by motor failure due to an oil pump.