Snapshot: Bobby Allison

Saturday, May. 21, 2011

Born: Dec. 3, 1937, Hialeah, Fla.

Family: Wife, Judy; sons, Davey, Clifford (both deceased); daughters, Bonnie, Carrie.

Career Highlights

– Started racing in the Miami area as a high-school senior.

– Moved to Alabama in 1955, along with younger brother Donnie. Bobby won three times the first week he ran at a Birmingham track. He made Alabama his home, setting up shop at Hueytown.

– Made his first start in the NASCAR big-time in the 1961 Daytona 500, finishing 31st in a 58-car field; won $200.

– Scored first of his 85 wins on NASCAR's major circuit at Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine, July 12, 1966.

– Won on a big track for the first time, scoring in the American 500 at North Carolina Motor Speedway at Rockingham on Oct. 29, 1967.

– Voted NASCAR's most popular driver for the first time in 1970, receives the award annually through '73, and then again in 1980-83.

– Swept 1971's World 600 and National 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

– Delighted a partisan Alabama crowd by winning the Talladega 500 on Aug. 22, 1971. His first triumph gave the Allison family a sweep there that year, as Donnie had won the Winston 500 in May, beating runner-up Bobby by six car lengths.

– Won the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in 1971, the first of three times.

– Joined team owner Junior Johnson in 1972 to form a potent combination that won 10 races, finished second 12 times and took 11 poles. The victory list included major wins at Atlanta, Charlotte, Darlington and Rockingham. However, the pairing didn't gel off the track and Allison left Johnson's team at season's end. Allison engaged in an epic feud with archrival Richard Petty throughout most of the season.

– Won the Daytona 500 for the first time in 1978 while driving a Ford for fellow Hall of Fame inductee Bud Moore.

– After finishing second in the points standings five times, Allison captured the 1983 Cup series championship with the DiGard team by placing ninth in the season finale Winston Western 500 on the Riverside Raceway road course in California.

– In one of the greatest, most dramatic finishes in NASCAR history, Bobby, driving for the Stavola Brothers team, edged son Davey of Robert Yates Racing by two car lengths to win the 1988 Daytona 500 and become the classic's oldest victor at age 50. It remains the only 1-2, father-son finish in stock car racing's biggest event. The victory was his last.

– A violent crash on June 19, 1988, during the first lap of the Miller 500 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, gravely injured Allison, ending his driving career.


Retired Observer motorsports reporter and contributor Tom Higgins on Bobby Allison:

I first saw him: During World 600 Week in May of 1966 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he was to drive for colorful car owner-crew chief Smoky Yunick.

First impression: A smiling, affable, very approachable guy who was intent on winning. He somewhat resembled movie star Gregory Peck.

What people might not know about him: He had an amazingly high threshold for pain. Often raced while suffering injuries that would have sidelined most drivers. Once had "handles" sewn onto his driving uniform so he could be lifted into and out of his race cars.

Most memorable quote: "What a thrill seeing Davey in my mirror and knowing we were going to sweep it. I tell you, it was great. He did such a fantastic job. Yeah, I'm a doting daddy. Davey is such a fine young man and competitor. He drove the wheels off of it. I'm proud to say that he belongs to me." - Feb. 14, 1988, after the only 1-2, father-son finish in the Daytona 500.

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