Thursday, July 23, 2009

SYMT Pocono Race: Davey Allison

Davey Allison was born to be a race car driver. From a very young age Davey showed signs of his fascination with race cars.

According to his dad, Bobby, Davey’s first words were “Vraddnnn! Vraddnnnn! "I remember the first two words out of his mouth when he was nine months old," said Bobby. "Davey stood up in the car seat next to me and said, 'Vraddnnnn! Vraddnnnnn!' "It was the sound a V-8 makes when the driver hits the throttle.

Davey was born David Carl Allison the eldest child of June and Bobby Allison. He was born on February 25, 1961 in Hollywood, Florida. He had two sisters Bonnie and Carrie and a younger brother, Clifford, who was killed in a Busch (Nationwide) race car during a practice session at Brooklyn, MI, on August 13.

Bobby moved his young family to Hueytown, Alabama, because in Alabama, he was able to find more opportunities to race. And racing was in the Allison family blood.

Davey wanted to race at an early age. But his parents had one rule: No racing until you had a high school diploma, no GED would do. So to speed up his chance of getting behind the wheel of a race car, Davey went to summer school, so that he could graduate early. Davey was able to graduate four months earlier than his high school class.

But until Davey was able to get behind the wheel of a race car, Davey took the opportunity to learn every thing that he could about a race car. Davey’s dad, put the younger Allison to work in his race shop. Davey would clean different things and he would sweep the floors for fifty cents an hour. While this did not make the younger Allison happy, he worked hard for his dad and proved himself.

When Davey was sixteen, he was able to prove himself to his dad. Bobby had been working on his 1977 American Motors Matador, and he was having trouble with the car. Bobby was doing all the work himself, and he said, “It was killing me.”

Davey volunteered to help, and Bobby was so weary that he agreed. It wasn’t long, said Bobby, before Davey could do a complete teardown.

By the time Davey was ready to get behind the wheel of the car, he could do anything to the car. From building a chassis, to setting up the car to race.

Davey would spend his nights at his dad’s race shop teaching himself how to weld a chassis together. There was no part of an engine that he did not know. He could put the engine on the dyno, prep it, test it, tear it down and rebuild it.

Davey was the complete driver. Now all he needed was experience behind the wheel. Now Davey’s Uncle Donnie stepped in to help the young Allison. Donnie had a shell of an old Chevy Nova. He gave this shell to Davey, and Davey and his buddies, “The Peach Fuzz Gang” worked on that car in the evenings after Bobby Allison Racing Garage was closed.

Bobby allowed Davey to use his garage at night to work on his car. Davey was able to use only the used parts that Bobby had already used on his car. Davey would take those old parts and rebuild them to work on his car.

Davey’s first race came at Birmingham on April 22, 1979. Davey was racing in the Limited Sportsman Division. It just so happened that his dad Bobby was on hand for the race. Davey would finish 20th in that race.

But just six races later, Davey had his first win and once again his Dad Bobby was on hand. The win came on May 5th. It was the same weekend that the Cup Series was at Talladega. That weekend Bobby won at Talladega. So the Allison family had two wins to celebrate that weekend.

Davey continued competing in the Limited Sportsman the rest of that year. Having 34 starts, five wins, 20 top fives and 29 top tens.

As Davey continued to come up through the ranks of racing, he would race in such divisions as: NASCAR Grand American, ARCA, Busch Grand National, NASCAR Dash, All Pro, ASA, DIRT, Grand American and International Sedan (now DASH) to Winston Cup.

Davey was competing in the ARCA series in 1983 when he got his got his first start in the NASCAR Grand National. He also started a handful of races in the NASCAR Dash series. Davey tied the DASH series champion Michael Waltrip for Most Popular Driver.

Davey continued in the ARCA series in 1984. He would go on and win the Rookie of the Year honor and he would come within 25 points of the championship. Davey figured it was better to have a honeymoon with his first wife than to race.

Davey also got his first Cup start in ‘85 driving for Hoss Ellington, he qualified 22nd and finished 10th.

As 1986 rolled around, Davey continued in the ARCA series, but he also got more opportunities to race in the Winston Cup. When Neil Bonnet got injured, driving for Junior Johnson, Davey filled in for him at Talladega. Davey would lead twice in the race and finished 7th.

Davey’s big break came in 1987 when Harry Ranier of Ranier-Lundy, signed Davey to race for him in the Winston Cup. Davey would start 22 of the 29 races. During Davey’s Rookie year he would set a record that stood for 12 years. He would be the first Rookie to win two Winston Cup races. He would become the first rookie to sit on the front row of the Daytona. He qualified second.

Davey got his first pole the second race of the year. Davey would go on and sit on five poles, three outside poles for a total of 8 front row starts. He won his first Winston Cup race at his beloved home track, Talladega and his second win came two races later at Dover. He almost had a third win, but he finished second in that race, less than a second behind the winner. He also held the record for rookie earnings until 1999. (Tony Stewart would be the first driver since Davey to win two races in his rookie year. Stewart eventually broke the record in 1999 with three wins. While in 2002 Jimmie Johnson would become only the third driver to win two or more races in his rookie year.)

But Davey was only able to finish 21st in the standings his rookie year.

As Davey continued to improve in Winston Cup, things were not going so well in his personal life, Davey and his first wife would eventually divorce, not sure of the date. The Allison family would also see its share of heartache. In 1988 Davey finished second to his dad Bobby at the Daytona 500. Davey collected a couple poles at back to back races Talladega and Charlotte. But when June rolled around things would change drastically for the Allison Family. Bobby would be seriously injured in a wreck at Pocono. The injuries that he sustained were seriously enough that Bobby was forced to retire from racing.

So it was left to Davey to carry on the Allison racing legacy. And Davey carried the banner proudly for his family. He would go on to win two races and finish 8th in the points standings. Davey also faced the untimely sell of the Ranier shop to Robert Yates in October. But as the mark of a champion, Davey continued to perform well for his new owner.

Davey now racing for a new owner was excited about the new season. In 1989, Davey saw a lot of changes in his life. He would marry his second wife, Liz, and they would greet the arrival of their first born, a daughter, Krista Marie.

As the 90s rolled around things were looking good for Davey. Each year he continued to win races and contend for the championship. He and Liz even welcomed a second child, a son, Robert Grey, born in 1991.

Davey’s stats for 1989-1991 were: 9 wins, 1 pole, the All-Star pole and the win for 1991.

1991 also saw a big change for Davey professionally. During the fourth race of the year Larry McReynolds would join Robert Yates Racing. This would prove to be the best crew chief combination for Yates Racing team. In just their first year together, Larry and Davey, won five points paying races. A pole, a pole for the All-Star Race and the win for the All-Star Race.

Davey also finished 3rd in the points. His best finish yet. Davey had finally found the missing link to his chance at a championship, or so it seemed.

As 1992 rolled around, the 28 team was the ones everyone was pointing to as the ones who could win the championship. And that year they performed very well. They won the Daytona 500.

1992 was also the year that the Allison family lost “Pop” Allison, Bobby and Donnie’s father. Davey got injured at Bristol.

But he went on to win at North Wilkesboro despite his injuries. He dedicated the win to his grandfather. Jimmy Hensley qualified the car for Davey at North Wilkesboro.

Davey unfortunately was reinjured at Martinsville.

Davey also won at Talladega the week after winning the Winston.

Davey had the flu the week before going to Pocono and he spent two days in the hospital. Davey captured the pole and lead for 115 laps before Darrell Waltrip bumped Davey. Causing a terrible accident that caused Davey to flip eleven times. Davey was once again seriously injured and he was hospitalized. After the Pocono race Davey trailed the leader by just 19 points. This would be the first time since Daytona that Davey was not the points leader.

Davey was back in the car the following week at Talladega. He practiced the car, but Bobby Hillin qualified the car third. Davey started the race and ran till the first caution. Turning the car over to Hillin and Hillin finished third that day, thus giving Davey the points lead back.

When the Brooklyn, MI race came around it would mark the first race that Davey would complete since his injuries at Pocono. But this was also the weekend that Bobby and June Allison would lose their youngest child, Clifford. Clifford was killed during a practice session.

Going into Darlington Davey was going for the Winston Million. All he had to do was win Darlington and he would win the $1 million dollars. But unfortunately, due to rain coming after the drivers pitted, Davey would lose the race and the $1 million to none other than Darrell Waltrip. Davey finished 5th that day. This was the race that Darrell Waltrip did his famous rain dance.

For the rest of the season Davey either finished in the top 15 or he won.

Going into the last race at Atlanta Davey was the points leader. All he had to do was basically finish in the top 10 and Davey had the championship. The battle was between Davey, Bill Elliott and Alan Kulwicki.

Davey had managed to stay out of trouble the whole race. The championship seemed like it was all but their’s. But like the old saying goes, it ain’t over til its over.

With less than 100 laps to go, Ernie Irvan lost control of his car and spins out in front of Davey. With no place to go, Davey hit Ernie and his day was over. Davey would go on to finish 3rd in the championship. Bill Elliott would go on to win the race, but Alan Kulwicki would win the championship.

Davey finished the year with the most top 5s, most laps lead, he also was tied with the most wins, 5.

So when 1993 rolled around, it seemed like nothing was going right for the 28 team. After 19 starts for the season they only had one win. 5 top 5s, 8 top 10s and they were standing 5th in the points. Not too bad of a season. But after 1992, it was a pretty slow start for the year.

On July 12, 1993 Davey and Red Farmer had left Hueytown to fly over to Talladega to watch Neil Bonnett do some laps around the track. As Davey was trying to land his helicopter there was a malfunction with the helicopter. Causing the helicopter to come crashing down on the driver’s side.

Red Farmer sustained injuries that he was able to recover from. But unfortunately, Davey’s injuries were just too severe for him to recover. He slipped away in the early morning hours of July 13. So at the age of just 32 Davey was gone. He left behind a young wife, Liz, two small children, Krista and Robert. His parents, Bobby and June Allison. Two sisters, Bonnie and Carrie. Plus many other family members. He also left a void in the hearts of his race team. The racing community and all the many fans that loved him. So exactly 11 months to the day, the Bobby and June Allison had lost both of their sons.

Davey will always be remembered as an old school racers, because that is the way his Dad wanted him to be.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Jeremy Mayfield Is His Career Over?

Jeremy Mayfield: Is His Career Over?

This story just seems to get more bizarre each and every day.

This story started innocent enough in Richmond, during the weekend of May 2. When Jeremy Mayfield was randomly selected to take a drug test for NASCAR. Nothing unusual about this. NASCAR has been doing random drug test for awhile now. But little did anyone know that in a week Jeremy Mayfield would be suspended from NASCAR and would be accused of having an illegal drug in his system, during the time of the test.

NASCAR took two samples from Mayfield that fateful day in May. And both samples would eventually be tested by NASCAR's lab Aegis Laboratories and Dr. David Black. Which probably was not fair to Mayfield, but NASCAR had it done and both test came back positive.

Since them Mayfield has taken another drug test and it too came back positive. But Mayfield claims that he had an independent test taken an hour after the one he gave to NASCAR and according to Mayfield it came back negative.

The drugs in question is Adderall and Claritin-D for allergies. Mayfield claims that he is taking the drug Adderall for ADHD. NASCAR claims that they were never informed that Mayfield was taking Adderall.

So who exactly is telling the truth? Who knows. But one thing is for certain this is going to get alot uglier before it is all over.

Mayfield's step-mother has come forward and has accused Mayfield of being a meth user for several years. Claiming that she even saw him making his own meth. According to an article on Mayfield's step-mother, Lisa Mayfield claims that Jeremy told her he used meth before a season-ending NASCAR awards ceremony while driving for Ray Evernham. She also said Mayfield used meth during a 1999 trip to Myrtle Beach that preceded a race at nearby Darlington Raceway.

"We left Myrtle Beach and traveled to Darlington for the race," she wrote. "I saw Jeremy using methamphetamine again when we reached Darlington."

"Between 1998 and 2005, I am personally aware that Jeremy used methamphetamines often," she said in her affidavit. "I was concerned about his heavy use and talked to his father about it. I saw Jeremy use methamphetamine by snorting it up his nose at least 30 times during the 7 years I was around him. Jeremy used methamphetamine not only in my presence, but also when we were both in the presence of others."

Lisa Mayfield, Jeremy Mayfield's stepmother, in an affidavit.

Now of course Mayfield dismisses these statements. He claims that his stepmother is only saying these things because she is broke and because NASCAR is paying her to do so.

"I don't trust anything NASCAR does, anything (doping program administrator) Dr. David Black does, never have, never will," Mayfield told The Associated Press in a phone interview. Black is the administrator for NASCAR's drug-testing program.

"And they picked the wrong woman to use against me because that (expletive) is trash and has got nothing on me but lies."

"She's tried everything she can do to get money out of time. I won't help her, so I guess she found a way to get money from NASCAR by giving them an affidavit full of lies," he said.

So with all of the back and forth going on in the media, it is hard to know who to believe.

But one thing is for certain, Mayfield's days in NASCAR may very well be over. Even if he is found to be innocent of the meth accusations, it is going to be hard for him to find an owner, or sponsor to support his career.

And that is what is so sad about this whole situation. An innocent man may be marked for life as a drug abuser.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Remembering Davey Allison

It has been 16 years since the news came that Davey Allison had been injured in a helicopter crash. The next 24 hours for the family would be very hard to handle.

Just 11 months earlier the Allison family lost their youngest son Clifford to a race car crash. Now here they were having to deal with the tragic accident of their eldest and only surviving son.

I cannot imagine what pain they were feeling.

It is never easy they say to lose a child. But to lose two in such a short time, had to be very agonizing for them.

Not to mention the pain and anguish that Davey's wife Liz was going through. Watching the love of her life slip away from her. Had to be horrific.

Well as we all know how this story ends, Davey does not make it.

And tomorrow marks the 16th anniversary since his passing.

I just wanted to let the Allison family know that, they will be in my prayers and thoughts tomorrow as they try to get through one more anniversary of the lost of Davey.

Davey will always be remembered by this fan.