Upfront: the following is about racer Elliott Forbes-Robinson, to whom others simply refer as "EFR." Breaking with journalistic style, EFR will be "Elliott" hereinafter. But, like his full, get-down, get-down, get-funky name, there's a...
Upfront: the following is about racer Elliott Forbes-Robinson, to whom others simply refer as "EFR." Breaking with journalistic style, EFR will be "Elliott" hereinafter.
But, like his full, get-down, get-down, get-funky name, there's a whole lot more to Elliott than just those three abbreviated letters.
Indicative of his accomplishments, tonight in Detroit's State Theatre, Elliott will be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
It couldn't happen to a more deserving person -- and it should've happened a years ago when Ellitt's name was on the Hall's 2002 ballot.
Then again, those usually inducted into the Hall have pretty well finished their racing careers while Elliott still had some winning to do -- two Rolex Series Daytona Prototype races in 2004 in his No. 4 Howard-Boss Pontiac-Crawford.
The two victories -- one at Barber Motorsports Park where EFR led 27 laps in the rain in front of major pressure -- capped a five-decade stretch during which Elliott won at least one major motorsports series race in each of those decades.
Not bad for an old fart.
More years ago than once might otherwise care to remember, this journalist was assigned to do a story on Elliott, whose already win-rich reputation preceded him long before my first-ever interview of the man.
Thus far in his motorsports coverage career, this writer has spoken with many of its most notable names and the plethora of encountered personalities -- plus the circumstances under which those stories sometimes must be undertaken -- can make getting that story very, um, challenging.
That first time in a Daytona International Speedway paddock, dressed in a pair of cut-off jeans and T-shirt, Elliott rose from his lawn chair with a big smile, a forward-thrust hand and began a conversation that easily could've taken place between old, old friends.
An interview with Elliott remains the most comfortable -- with one occurring just last week -- this reporter ever has conducted.
They never really seem like work; always pleasure. That's Elliott's style.
A lot's been written about EFR's career over the last few days but none, NONE mentioned he started racing in a fender-free Volkswagen Bug -- in the California deserts. Elliott provided the evidence in picture form a couple or three years back and I've still got it.
Beyond that 18-horsepower Bug and the aforementioned Daytona Prototype, Elliott has won races and championships in all sorts of equipment, including a Shelby Cobra, Nissans and Can-Am cars.
He's twice won the Rolex 24 at Daytona (1997, 1999) overall and, in 2005 -- having already crossed well beyond the 60-year-old mark -- finished second in the race. And with him being among only three drivers in that car, you can be assured Elliott pulled his weight.
Beyond a veritable sportscar racing Who's Who, Elliott's co-drivers have crossed many of the sports' thresholds and include reigning Nextel Cup champ Tony Stewart and current Nextel Cup points leader Jimmie Johnson. He's even raced with and for Paul Newman.
Elliott's personality particularly lends itself to teaching, only the Cup stars with whom he works will call him "coach."
Indeed, recently in some Penske NASCAR road-course equipment, Elliott so successfully bested some of NASCAR's top drivers (one of whom was already mentioned herein) that they offered him a chance to race in last weekend's Watkins Glen Busch Series show.
Instead, he handed the ride over to longtime friend and co-driver, Butch Leitzinger.
"I just didn't want to do it," Elliott said last week form his North Carolina home.
What he should've said: "I've got nothing left to prove."
He really doesn't, as tonight's induction into the Hall likely will demonstrate.
Sadly, due to getting the last of my daughters settled into her freshman year at the University of Louisville, this writer -- and I like to think, "friend" -- won't be able to attend. I wouldn't have otherwise missed it but family's important and Elliott knows that. He's been there and is still doing it.
But there will be many of Elliott's friends, old and new, filling the State Theatre with Elliott tonight -- not the least of which includes his first, only wife and best friend, Lounette.
A "babe," as Elliott has described her, "then" and now, they've lived to see a plethora of grandchildren they relish.
Elliott, should you at some point tonight hear a lone pair of hands clapping a couple of hundred miles to your east, that would be me, saluting you.
-DC Williams, exclusively for Motorsport.com