Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Fast Facts: Davey Allison

Davey (l) and Bobby Allison celebrate at Daytona in 1988
credit: Racing Photo Archives/NASCAR Media
20 years ago on July 13, 1993, NASCAR lost one of its most competitive drivers and a member of the legendary Alabama Gang, Davey Allison. Here’s a look back at the career of another driver gone too soon from the world of auto racing.
  • David Carl Allison was born February 25, 1961 in Hollywood, Florida, the eldest of four children. His father, NASCAR Hall of Fame member Bobby Allison, and mother moved the family to Hueytown, Alabama, where he Alabama Gang was born, consisting of Bobby, his brother Donnie and family friends Red Farmer and Neil Bonnett.
  • Allison began his racing career working on his father’s Cup Series team and working on his own race car with a group of friends. He began racing in 1979 at Birmingham International Raceway in Alabama, and won his first race in just his sixth start. In 1983, Allison moved up to the ARCA Racing Series, winning both events at “hometown” track Talladega Superspeedway that season and being named Rookie of the Year in 1984.
  • In 1985, in addition to racing in the ARCA Racing Series, Allison moved into the NASCAR ranks, finishing 10th in his first Cup Series start in July 1985 for car owner Hoss Ellington. In 1986, he subbed for Bonnett in Junior Johnson’s ride, and in 1987, he replaced another NASCAR legend, Cale Yarborough, in the Ranier-Lundy No. 28 Ford Thunderbird. That February, Allison drove an unmarked car (pending sponsorship from Texaco-Havoline) to the outside pole at the Daytona 500, the first rookie to start on the front row for the famous race. Allison won twice and added five poles in the 1987 season, winning the Cup Series Rookie of the Year title.
  • 1988 started off just as well for Allison, who crossed the finish line behind his father at the Daytona 500 for a one-two family finish. Later that season, however, Bobby Allison suffered career-ending injuries in a wreck at Pocono Raceway. 
  • Between 1988 and 1990, Allison struggled off the track, having numerous confrontations with fellow drivers and crew chiefs, and had poor results on the track. During the 1991 season, Allison was paired with crew chief Larry McReynolds, and the pair clicked, with Davey finishing third in points that season and the next.
  • On July 12, 1993, just weeks after NASCAR lost its reigning champion, Alan Kulwicki, in a small plane crash, Allison and Farmer were en route to Talladega Superspeedway to see Neil and David Bonnett in Allison’s newly-acquired helicopter. Upon reaching the track and attempting to land, the helicopter crashed; Neil Bonnett, who died less than a year later in a practice accident at Daytona, pulled Farmer from the wreckage but was unable to reach Allison. Allison was taken to the hospital with serious head injuries; he died the next morning.
  • Allison is buried near his brother, Clifford, who died from injuries suffered in a practice accident at Michigan in August 1992.
  • In 191 Cup Series races, Allison accumulated 19 wins, 92 top 10 finishes and 14 poles.


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