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Gary Nelson is a high-level NASCAR technical inspector. He was Bobby Allison's crew chief for his 1983 NASCAR Winston Cup championship. He was inducted in the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame in 2006.
Nelson was born in Elgin, Illinois on June 5, 1953, the sixth child and second son of Mildred Ollendorf and Arnold Nelson. Arnold moved his family to Redlands, California one year later to get out of the cold. Nelson left school in the 11th grade and years later got his GED.
Nelson started in the racing business cleaning up the shop for San Bernardino, California driver Ivan Baldwin. Later became a crew chief for Darrell Waltrip, and the team won at Nelson's first race as a NASCAR crew chief in Darlington in 1977. Nelson was the crew chief for two wins for driver Bobby Allison in 1982, and their team finished second in season points. He was the crew chief for several other wins, including the 1985 Pepsi 400 with Greg Sacks and the 1986 Daytona 500 with Geoff Bodine and Hendrick Motorsports. He also was the crew chief for Kyle Petty in 1990 for Felix Sabates Racing He had been a winning crew chief at every track on the NASCAR circuit when he moved on to other things.
He was hired as a broadcaster for ESPN during the 1988 season. He was hired by NASCAR and has held several roles in the organization. He was the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup series director, Vice President of Competition, and Vice President of Research and Development.
Nelson owns Provident Auto Supply, a North Carolina-based performance parts distributor. Provident is the only parts supplier for the NASCAR "specification" engine that is used in the Camping World Series division, which is also optional on tracks under two kilometers in length for the Camping World Truck Series.