During the course of his career, Bobby Allison accumulated 84 victories, making him third all-time, tied with Darrell Waltrip, including three victories at the Daytona 500 in 1978, 1982 and 1988, where he finished one-two with his son, Davey Allison. He was also the NASCAR Winston Cup Champion in 1983 driving for DiGard Racing. Additionally, Allison ran in the Indianapolis 500 twice, with a best finish of 25th in 1975.
Allison's NASCAR team owners included DiGard, Junior Johnson & Associates, and Roger Penske, for whom Allison scored four of the five NASCAR wins for American Motors' Matador. The other AMC victory was accomplished by Mark Donohue also racing for Penske in 1973 at Riverside. Bobby also raced in NASCAR as a driver/owner of an AMC Matador.
Allison was involved in an accident at Alabama International Motor Speedway (now Talladega Superspeedway) in May, 1987 that saw his car cut down a tire, turn sideways and go airborne into the protective catch fence that separates the speedway from the grandstands. The impact with the fence with the rear of the car at over 200 miles per hour (320 km/h) caused nearly 100 yards of fencing to be torn down. Parts and pieces of the car went flying into the grandstand injuring several spectators. This is the same race that Bill Elliott set the all-time qualifying record at 212 mph (341 km/h). In response, NASCAR mandated smaller carburetors for the remaining 1987 events at Talladega and its sister track, Daytona International Speedway. The following year, NASCAR mandated restrictor plates at Daytona and Talladega to keep speeds under 200 miles per hour (320 km/h). Allison would win the first Daytona 500 run with restrictor plates in February 1988 by beating his son Davey Allison. He is the oldest driver (50 years) ever to win the Daytona 500 and the first one-two father/son finish in the Daytona 500.
Later that season, on June 19, 1988, Bobby Allison nearly died in a crash at Pocono Raceway, but was left with injuries that forced his retirement from driving in NASCAR. In 1992, his youngest son, Clifford Allison, was fatally injured in a practice crash for the NASCAR Busch Series race (now Nationwide Series) at Michigan International Speedway. Allison was elected to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1993, the same year that his son Davey died following a helicopter accident at Talladega Superspeedway. He was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1992.
Allison is one of eight drivers to have won what was then considered a career Grand Slam (an unofficial term) by winning the sport's four majors: the Daytona 500, Winston 500, Coca-Cola 600, and the Southern 500. Richard Petty, David Pearson, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Buddy Baker are the other seven to have accomplished the feat.
Courtesy of the Associated Press. Photograph by Ric Feld.
Allison Brothers Fight Cale Yarborough
Donnie (far left) and Bobby Allison (wearing helmet) fight Cale Yarborough following the Daytona 500 in February 1979 in Daytona Beach, Florida. Yarborough was involved in a wreck with Donnie Allison near the end of the race.