|This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2013)|
|Owner(s)||Harry Melling, Mark Melling|
|Base||Mooresville, North Carolina|
|Car numbers||#9, #92|
|Race drivers||Bill Elliott, Jerry Nadeau, Lake Speed, Stacy Compton|
|Sponsors||Coors Brewing, Turner Broadcasting, Spam, Kodiak|
|Debut||1982 Daytona 500 (Daytona)|
|Latest race||2002 Pure Michigan 400 (Michigan International Speedway)|
Melling Racing was a NASCAR team that ran from 1981 to 2003. The team was most notable for fielding cars for Bill Elliott in the 1980s where he won the 1985 Winston Million and where he won the 1988 championship.
Owner Harry Melling first became involved in NASCAR when his company Melling Tool sponsored Benny Parsons in 1979. The team began in 1982 with driver Bill Elliott after buying out George Elliott's (Bill's father) part of the team and by sponsoring Elliott's #9 Ford that season. The team was previously run by Roger Penske and Team Penske before Elliott in his first foray into NASCAR before getting out of the series in 1977. The team ran 21 races that season and had nine top-tens and won the pole for the Champion Spark Plug 400.
In 1983, Elliott won his first race at the season-ending race at Riverside International Raceway and finished third in points. The following season, Coors became the team's new sponsor and Melling Racing responded with three wins with Elliott and another third-place points finish. 1985 marked a career-high eleven wins for Elliott and Melling, as well over $2 million in earnings, but a string of four finishes outside of the top-ten late in the season caused them to finish second in the series standings. Elliott won the Daytona 500, Winston 500 Where Elliott lost 2 laps, made it up under green and won the race, and the Southern 500. Elliott became one of two drivers to win the Winston Million. (Earning the nickname "Million Dollar Bill") The team slipped to sixth in points and had only two wins the following year, but started off 1987 with a win at the Daytona 500, on top of five additional wins that season. Melling Racing won the championship in 1988 with Elliott after getting six wins and 22 top-ten finishes.
The team was unable to defend its championship in 1989 after Elliott was injured early in the season and Jody Ridley served as a substitute driver, although Elliott was still able win three times. In 1990, Elliott had only one victory but still moved to fourth in points. After the sponsorship changed to Coors Light for the 1991 season, Elliott and Melling only won at Daytona and fell to eleventh in points, causing him and Coors to part ways with Melling at the end of the year.
Without sponsorship, Melling ran Phil Parsons for the first two races in the 1992 season and had a top-ten finish at the Daytona 500. After that, the team ran a part-time schedule with Dorsey Schroeder, Dave Mader III, and Bill Schmitt driving, before Chad Little finished the season. The team continued running a very part-time schedule with Little and Greg Sacks driving at the beginning of the season, along with P. J. Jones in the second half of the season. After Joe Ruttman drove at Daytona, Rich Bickle drove for ten races and had only one top-20 finish, causing him to be replaced by Parsons later on. The team finally got a new sponsor in Spam when Lake Speed signed with the team in 1995. He had two top-ten finishes and finished 23rd in points running a full-time schedule. After only one top-ten in 1996, Spam left the team.
Due to a lack of sponsorship, the team skipped races, and ran a total of 26 events with Speed driving 25 and Jeff Davis running at Sears Point. Melling was able to return full-time in 1998 when Cartoon Network became the team's new sponsor. While practicing at Sears Point, Speed was involved a wreck and had to be replaced by Butch Gilliland that weekend while he recuperated. After returning for a final race at New Hampshire, Speed retired from driving and was replaced immediately by rookie Jerry Nadeau, who had a best finish of 15th at Watkins Glen International. Nadeau returned for the 1999 season, with Turner Broadcasting taking a larger role in its sponsorship duties, advertising TBS, Dinner and a Movie, WCW, and the Atlanta Braves in addition to their Cartoon Network sponsorship. Midway through the season, Harry Melling died due to a heart attack, and his son Mark took over ownership of the team. At Watkins Glen that season, Nadeau gave Melling Racing its first top-five since 1991 with a fifth-place finish, but left after the following week to replace Ernie Irvan at MB2 Motorsports. For the rest of the season, Bickle, Steve Grissom, and Stacy Compton all shared the ride.
Compton was hired as the driver for 2000 with Kodiak/Tobacco replacing Cartoon and Turner as the sponsor. In his rookie season, Compton was unable to finish higher than 16th, had to miss the goracing.com 500 due to injuries, and was replaced by Bobby Hillin, Jr. for that race. In 2001, Melling yielded the #9 to Evernham Motorsports, who was fielding entries for Bill Elliott. In exchange, Melling Racing switched to the #92 and ran Dodge Intrepids with support from Evernham. Compton also received new crew chief Chad Knaus over old one Jerry Pitts. Compton qualified on the outside pole at the season-opening Daytona 500 and finished 10th in the race and later won the pole at both Talladega races that year. After finishing 33rd at the end of the season, Compton and Cougar left Melling.
Melling began the season at Daytona with Robert Pressley driving, finishing 22nd in the Brand Source Dodge after a late race engine failure. The team did not run until the summer Michigan race with Compton finishing 30th. The team's final attempt came at Talladega with Pressley, but they did not qualify. In the team's final race, Stacy Compton led three laps.
At the end of the 2002 season, Melling closed for good and sold its shop to Arnold Motorsports.
- Bill Elliott (1982–91)
- Phil Parsons (1992, 1994)
- Dorsey Schroeder (1992)
- Dave Mader III (1992)
- Chad Little (1992–93)
- Greg Sacks (1993)
- P. J. Jones (1993)
- Joe Ruttman (1994)
- Rich Bickle (1994, 1999)
- Lake Speed (1995–98)
- Jeff Davis (1997)
- Butch Gilliland (1998)
- Jerry Nadeau (1998–99)
- Steve Grissom (1999)
- Stacy Compton (1999–2002)
- Bobby Hillin (2000)
- Robert Pressley (2002)