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.


  1. Excellent Ms. Ann. He is still very much missed!! I loved seeing him race.


  2. Wow great blog TSFan!

    Davey was such a talent in a family of talent!

    It is amazing the injuries these guys used to drive with....

  3. Very nice TS with lot's of info that we havent heard, I miss Davey alot. There is no telling what he would have done if still here.

  4. Great tribute, TSfan. Love the Allison family history - great triumph and terrible tragedy. Still wonder what the CUp Series would have looked like in the mid-late 1990's if Davey and Alan Kulwicki had still been around.

    That wreck at Pocono is still one of the most vicious I have ever seen.

  5. Hey Ts, very well done. I knew Davey was extremely popular, what I didn't know was how good he was.

    Thanks for a great read. Take care.

  6. TSFANPC, Great blog, As we seen in his career he could recover from a crash and others die from them back in the day. Davey as with many who can make a room light up with a smile will be remember forever thanks to the fans and you.

    Cheers2You and thanks for hosting this weeks race.

  7. in that first pikkie of him and the car, he looks a bit like DJ or Terry Labonte used to look, lol

  8. nice write tsfan, like aero, i wasn't aware that he had won that many races. I was watching Nascar during that period, I guess I lost a few memories. I am sure that if he was still with us, he would be out there racing. Thankfully the Allison family has had many triumphs to go with their tragedies.

  9. You have done a beautiful job with this. Thank you for writing about one of my all time favorite drivers. Excellent, just Excellent!

  10. Ms. Lori, he was the first driver I choice to follow. Growing up it had to be Richard Petty. So when Davey came along, I just chose him to be my driver. I do miss seeing him race. Especially at Talladega. It was like Talladega was made just for him.

  11. Kristen, It was amazing all the injuries that they would sustain in those old cars. And the vicious wrecks that they had was just amazing to see them get out of those cars and go race the next week.

    It is amazing more of them did not lose their lives in those cars.

  12. RLGuido, I had to do alot of digging to find alot of this info. Some of it I did not know. Some of it I did because, I keep a scrapbook on each of the drivers that I have followed. So I was able to use alot of my own resources.

    The picture of Davey and Alan Kulwicki was a picture that I bought the year that Davey lost the championship at a Comic Book/Card Show.

  13. moseby, that is the one thing about Davey. His family always came first. Regardless of whatever his career had for him. His family was always first.

    One thing I do believe is that Davey and Larry McReynolds would have gotten Robert Yates that first championship long before 1999. They were just too good together.

  14. aero Davey was a master behind the wheel of car. He was one of the few drivers who could really take on Dale Sr. at Daytona and Talladega.

  15. F2 that crooked smile of his was one of the things that made him so appealing to the fans. Please he was soft spoken. He was a man of few words, but when he was on the track, you knew he was there. Because he was always a threat to win.

    One of the things that I meant to put into the blog, but forgot was that the first time I ever heard of Jeff Gordon, was in an interview that Davey and Jeff did at the beginning of the 1993 season at Daytona.

    Davey said that the fans should give Jeff a chance. Because someday he was going to be a Cup champ. I have always remembered that. And when Jeff won his first title, I recalled Davey saying that Jeff was going to be a Cup champ. Davey was so right.

  16. tezgm that was a very popular look back in the 1980s in the South. Made them look older and more serious. lol

  17. storkjrc, That was a time that you could not get me away from the races. I use to plan my Sunday meals around the races. All the meals had to be done before 11 a.m. Or my husband had to go out and get food and bring it home. And no meals were cooked until after the

    There is no doubt that Davey would still be racing. As a matter of fact, the last time I heard his son Robert was starting to do some racing in some of the local tracks down in Alabama and Tennessee.

  18. volfan, It was my pleasure. I really enjoyed writing and reliving some of the memories of Davey. I really do miss seeing him on the track still.

  19. Great story, Tsfan.

    Sounds as if Bobby knew how to raise a racer (and a son). Didn't just give him everything. Made him work and learn everything.

    I was at the first night time Winston. The only time I saw Davey win live. He was an awesome driver.

  20. Gene I wish that I had been there. That is the one race that I regret that I never went to.

    That was the first time that I got angry with a Petty. lol