By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
It’s tough for Eslie Bills to sit in the pit area and watch races at Beckley Motorsports Park.
He’d rather be racing.
Bills, a longtime fixture at the Prosperity dirt oval, has 49 career victories there, but is currently sidelined because of motor problems.
“I’ve finished one race. I’ve blown up three times,” he said. “This is one of the worst seasons I’ve ever had, as far as motors.”
The sad thing is Bills had run competitively until the motors gave out. His chances of getting that 50th win were looking good.
“The car seems to be fairly fast, and it’s the one I won with last year,” he said. “It gets a little faster every time.
“But without the dependability of a good motor, it’s almost impossible to race against these other young boys who are so good.”
Parts and money are issues.
“We’ve got a good sponsor in Steve’s Auto Parts in Oak Hill, who does our machine work for us,” Bills said. “It’s not their fault the motor won’t run. It’s the parts I’ve been buying. My parts are getting old, like me, and I’m starting to have a lot of failures.”
Bills, 66, lost his business, recently, and buying motor parts just isn’t a priority.
“I’m trying to live on Social Security, and you can’t hardly buy one of those big, fancy, engines,” he said. “It’s just so expensive to put a good motor together. I’m having a hard time trying to do it.”
Bills has contacted other potential sponsors, but many are having hard times, as well. Others are already supporting racing teams.
It’s particularly frustrating because he knows he can still race.
“I’m 66, but I think my reflexes are as good as they’ve ever been,” he said. “I’m sure they’re not, but I think so. My eyesight is real good. I can still see the corners.
“When you’ve raced as long as I have, it’s second nature to do it. Once I get a car working the way I want it to, I seem to run fairly fast.”
At least Bills stays active with racing. His son Keith is having a fine season in the AMRA Modifieds class at BMP. Keith’s stepson, Bryce Ryan, is doing better all the time in the Hornets division.
“Keith has won in anything he’s got in,” Bills said. “I help keep his car up, doing maintenance.
“I’m always giving them pointers, especially my new grandson, Bryce. He pays attention, which most young boys won’t. He’s been running pretty good.”
Bills still hopes to have a motor back together before the season ends. Some help would be appreciated.
“It would be nice if we could find somebody who would want to help sponsor us or work with us,” he said. “Even if they’ve only got parts, it would help.
“I’m hoping to get the 50th win here at Beckley so I can retire. I’m looking to do that.”
Bills can be contacted at 469-2817.
— E-mail: dstillwell