Owner John Cohen stands next to the Xxxtreme Racing trailer in Ernie Elliott’s former racing shop. Cohen plans to operate his racing venture in the space, which he bought from Elliott last month
Dawsonville continues to be a hotbed for NASCAR activity with the recent announcement that J.J. Yeley's race team has decided to bring its operations to town.
"A new race team out of New York is coming down here," said Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan. "They've bought [Ernie Elliott's] facility and rented half of [Bill Elliott's] garage."
Xxxtreme Motorsport owner John Cohen said that it was Dawsonville's racing support and heritage that drew his racing team. The three X's stand for exceed, excel and excite.
"When I saw how big into racing Dawsonville was, I wanted to be here," he said. "I like the history of this town. If I can be part of the history of Dawsonville, it's something I want to do."
Cohen, a nightclub entrepreneur who owns the M2 Ultra Lounge in New York City, said that he had been eyeing the location for a while and spent some time talking with Ernie Elliott, the shop's former owner and racing engine builder.
"After we took over Ernie's engine shop, I figured we would bring the whole racing team down here," Cohen said.
Cohen sponsored vehicles under the Xxxtreme Motorsport banner for drivers Josh Wise and Chase Austin in the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Currently, the shop has more than 10 employees, but Cohen said he wants to expand.
"The sky's the limit here," he said."I want to go from 10 to 40 to 500 employees. I've been told that when you win Daytona, you get a street -- when you win a championship, you get recognized here. I love that Dawsonville offers that."
Driving for Xxxtreme this season is Yeley in the No. 44 Chevy.
Yeley, who won the USAC Triple Crown in 2003, has two top-five finishes in the Sprint Cup series. He finished 10th in the 2013 Daytona 500 and 32nd in the point standings.
"We're going for a Sprint Cup championship this year," Cohen said. "J.J. said he's never won a Sprint Cup, and he wants one of those, so we're going for it."
This season marks a return for Yeley, who, in 2009 broke three vertebrae during a crash in a USAC race and was forced to take time off.
"If we get going good, we might get to sound the siren [at the Dawsonville Poolroom] downtown more than once, with two guys now from the area racing," Grogan said.
NASCAR legend Bill Elliott's son Chase made his Nationwide racing debut two weeks ago in Daytona. He's finished with two top-10 runs so far this season.
Grogan sees a bright future for having Xxxtreme Motorsports in Dawsonville.
"We, as the city, are proud to have John and his company here," he said. "We are expecting great things from them and expect to have a long and lasting relationship."
Yeley's first race with Xxxtreme Motorsport will be Sunday in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.