HICKORY – Mike Beam and longtime friend Bill Elliott are getting back together to ride off into the sunset one last time.
GMS Racing announced last weekend that the 62-year-old Elliott will race Aug. 25 in the Xfinity Series at Road America. Beam, a Hickory native and president of GMS Racing, said the idea generated from Elliott’s son Chase, who has ran the GMS No. 23 car four times in the Xfinity Series this season.
Talking last month at Daytona, Chase mentioned that Beam should let his father drive at the road course in Wisconsin. Beam thought it was a joke at first, but Chase kept encouraging the idea. Finally, Beam called the 1998 Winston Cup champion and two-time Daytona 500 winner, who quickly jumped at the opportunity.
“We just started working on it and sure enough, it just really worked out,” Beam said. “We can’t be more excited for Bill and his fan club. He’s been racing quite a bit anyway on some road races. He’s in good shape. We’ll run real well.”
The race will certainly hold special meaning for both men. Elliott, a NASCAR Hall of Famer and one of the most popular drivers of his era, hasn’t run a NASCAR race since 2012 and hasn’t competed in what’s now the Xfinity Series since 2005. For Beam, this is a chance to work with one of his best friends again.
Their friendship dates back to their time in Hickory. Beam recalled watching Chase run around the shop out near the airport as he and Elliott worked on cars. Beam later served as Elliott’s crew chief, guiding him to victories at Dover in 1990 and Darlington in 1994.
“I just really cherish all the time with him. It’s good for us to get to do this one time and have some fun,” Beam said. “It’s a real good car. It’s not a lot of pressure but he’s going to race hard. I think Chase is going to come spot for him.”
I can’t believe Bill Elliott is going to run a @NASCAR_Xfinity race. Like Bill just been waiting on someone to ask him.— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) August 5, 2018
The announcement has been received well so far. But Beam, who was inducted to the Catawba County Sports Hall of Fame in May, hopes to have a bigger announcement coming soon.
He is in the process of attempting to purchase BK Racing, which entered bankruptcy in February. It would be affiliated with GMS should he have the winning bid.
“I hope we’ll know here in a couple weeks where we are with that,” Beam said. “…we’ve got a lot going on. We’re really blessed.”
He also finds time to come back to one of his favorite race tracks, the one where he guided Harry Gant and Dale Jarrett to victories in the Bobby Isaac Memorial. Beam was at Hickory Motor Speedway in May for the CARS Tour series and watched last weekend’s Throwback 276 online.
What impressed him most weren’t the unique paint schemes or competitive racing. It was the near-sellout crowd.
“Short track racing has really struggled,” Beam said. “But it just shows the quality of race fans in Catawba County and around the area there.”
The Xfinity Series race at Road America will air live Aug. 25 on NBC Sports at 3 p.m.