DALTON, GA. - The bar of success for the United Speed Alliance Racing Hooters ProCup Series has been raised by Bobby Gill's stellar performance during the 1999 season in the No. 5 Naturally Fresh Dressings and Dips\PGT Ford Taurus. Gill...
DALTON, GA. - The bar of success for the United Speed Alliance Racing Hooters ProCup Series has been raised by Bobby Gill's stellar performance during the 1999 season in the No. 5 Naturally Fresh Dressings and Dips\PGT Ford Taurus.
Gill returned to the Hooters competition with the goal to win races. Winning races is not all that Gill accomplished this season. In the rigorous 20-race Southeastern based touring series, he turned in two (2) poles, five (5) wins, 14 top-fives and 19 top-10 finishes with winnings of more than $280,000.
"We didn't come out here to win the championship," Gill said."We did come out here with the mind to win races. If you go to the racetrack to win races and stay consistently in the top-10 or top-five when you can't win the race, the points deal will always take care of itself."
"The Naturally Fresh Dressings and Dip/PGT team did a great job staying consistent," Gill continued. If you look back over the season, we didn't set the world on fire by winning the most races, most poles and such. What we did do was run consistent. I have to thank my crew for that because they kept working even when we were behind like the second race at Mobile." Late in the 20-race season the Hooters ProCup Series returned to Mobile International Speedway. Gill started the Discount Auto Parts 250 from the pole but developed mechanical difficulties that had eluded the team all year. But instead of stumbling, the Bobby Gill Racing/Naturally Fresh Foods team worked on their car during a series of caution flag pit stops, kept their driver on the lead lap and eventually won the race.
"I really think that the Mobile race was a true testament to our season," Gill said. "We had a spark plug wire come off and then the car got stuck in high gear. The guys never lost their heads and we ended up winning the race." Gill plans to return to the USAR Hooters ProCup Series to defend his title in the 2000 season. When asked if there were thoughts of a repeat in the near future.
"We have the same goal for 2000 that we had in 1999. We are going to the racetrack to win races and be consistent -- the points will take care of itself," Gill said. "I do know that it will be harder to repeat because of the competition in the Hooters Series keeps getting tougher every year. Jay (Fogleman), Mario (Gosselin), Derrick (Kelley) will be even stronger next year and then add Mardy (Lindley), Steven (Christian) and Andy (Thurman) to name a few it will be harder to win races. But it's the competition factor that makes this sport so much fun and popular with the fans." The USAR Hooters ProCup Series saw eight different drivers take the checkered flag at the end of 250 laps compared to five in 1998. Gill did not become a Championship winning stock car driver over night but it wasn't long after his first race that Gill started winning titles. It's every kid's dream at some point in their life to follow in the father's footsteps. Gill's call came a little later then most at age 22 when he entered his first race at Desoto Speedway in Sarasota, FL.
"I've been hanging around and working on race cars since I was old enough to stay up past nine at night," Gill said. "Before that I was always sitting in the stands watching my dad race at Golden Gate, New Smyrna,Sara Mana and Sunshine Speedways." When young Gill first climbed in the racecar at Desoto, it wasunder the successful shadow of his father Billy.
"I think it safe to say that I won at least eight championships and too many wins to count," the senior Gill reflects. "But that was during a time when you could race and win at three or four tracks a weekend. Before everything got so high tech. We were what you call Junkyard racing."
"Bobby has always had a knack for putting cars together. There was a time late in my career when I would bend up my car in a race, unload it into the garage and basically tell myself that I'm done. I'd go to work and never think twice about that car. A couple days later I'd go out to the garage and Bobby had the car all put back together and ready to go to the track."
"When I finally did get out of the car, I turned it over to Bobby," Billy Gill continued. "He wasn't that good of a driver (laughing). But the more he drove that piece-a-junk car the better he got. He went up to that Kiss Series and won the championship a couple of years later." Racing is in the Gill family blood. Billy Gill has seven sons that are either driving a racecar or working with their brothers on the car. Whether you are sitting in the Grandstand or watching the USAR Hooters ProCup Series on Speedvision, it's hard not to see the No. 5 Naturally Fresh Dressings and Dips/PGT Ford of Bobby Gill Racing tearing up the short tracks of the southeast. Some might say with the finesse reminiscent of his father.
"I remember sitting in the grandstands watching my dad race,"Bobby Gill said. "He could pass on the outside or inside and race the other competitors clean all the way around the track. The first time I got into the car I had a big name to live up too. I never told myself that I have to drive like my dad, it was just something that I did."
"I've always looked up to my dad. I guess you could say tha the is my hero." In the 250 races of Gills professional career he has accumulated 55 wins, 140 top-five and 180 top-10 finishes in a little more than a 13-year career. On top of his racing career, Gill and his wife Elaine own and operate a local cafeteria style restaurant. Gill's Grill is nestled in the North Georgia Mountain town of Dalton where locals and travelers come in for a home cooked breakfast or lunch.
"I guess if I wasn't racing I'd go back to being a plumber or Elaine would have me flipping burgers at the restaurant," Gill said. "But I'm going to race for as long as I'm able. It's what I do. I want to win." If his stats are any indication, win he will and for awhile to come.