July will mark 21 years since the passing of Davey Allison. The son of Hall of Famer Bobby Allison, Davey was everything that exemplified the spirit of NASCAR from the grit and determination behind the wheel to the embodiment of family ties in the sport. He was everything the sport stood for. He was a great big smile and a black Ford that was almost as intimidating as Dale Earnhardt's Chevy.
It's time we induct him into the Hall of Fame.
Allison's career was unfortunately short, but he made the most of it. Before Tony Stewart set a rookie record of three wins in 1999 or Ryan Newman set a rookie record of six poles in 2002, Allison set the record first with five poles and two wins in 1987.
He was actually the first rookie to ever win two races in his first official season. What's notable is the fact that while he only ran in 22 of 29 events that year, his records stood untouched for over a decade.
From his Cup debut in 1985 to his untimely death in 1993, Allison competed in 191 Cup races where he amassed 19 victories. That's the same amount as Dale Earnhardt Jr. (505 starts) and Greg Biffle (402 starts), two more than Newman (440 starts) and three more than Kasey Kahne (360 starts). Allison was an effective driver, and it helps that he happened to claim a Daytona 500 victory in 1992 to boot.
Should Davey Allison be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame?
Another thing Allison could be noted for was that once he began to race in Winston Cup full time, he never went a season without winning at least one race. He was excellent at places like Daytona and Talladega, but he also won at prestigious venues like Michigan, Dover and North Wilkesboro.
He also happened to be a part of some of NASCAR's defining moments. In the 1988 Daytona 500 he chased his father to the checkered flag in just his second 500 attempt, yet he made sure to join and celebrate with him in Victory Lane.
He was the first driver to win two All-Star events at Charlotte, which he did in 1991 and 1992. The '92 event stands out as one of the most memorable finishes in NASCAR history with Allison crossing the line neck-and-neck with Kyle Petty, only to be injured immediately afterward when Petty turned him into the wall driver's side first.
Could it have been blamed on the full moon?
Allison was a championship threat, and many speculate that he would have eventually hoisted the championship trophy during his career had he not passed in the helicopter crash in the Talladega infield. The 1992 Hooter's 500 at Atlanta showed us how easy it would have come to his team; that is, before he crashed. Many take it as a sure thing that Allison was going to be a champion like his father.
He knew how to wheel a race car, as evidenced by his 10th-place finish at Talladega in his Cup debut. Before that, he was a terror at Birmingham International Raceway.
With that being said, it was his wild talent that made him the object of the fans' affection, despite being a fresh-faced youngster who happened to keep veterans like Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip on their toes—especially Darrell Waltrip, when you consider their 1991 Bristol scuffle.
He was Jeff Gordon before we had Jeff Gordon. He was Jimmie Johnson before we had Jimmie Johnson.
The fact that he passed away before NASCAR's popularity really took off hurt the sport in many ways. Had he lived he would have been the precursor to the youth movement that swept through the sport in the mid-to-late '90s and early '00s. Sure, he drove like a veteran with a few decades of racing under his belt, but there's no denying a young face when you see it.
Yet Allison is a legend these days. He hasn't been relegated to just another name or face in the history of the sport. Instead, he's viewed in the same light as his legendary father as well as Richard Petty, Earnhardt and Gordon.
He's still talked about, and many fans can still remember what they were doing when he won his first Talladega race, the Daytona 500, the All-Star...all the way up until the news broke that he had passed.
His impact on the sport is still felt to this day. He represented the sport perfectly. He represented Alabama. He represented family. To longtime fan James Burton, an Alabama native who was seven when Allison passed, those lingering feelings can be summed up in a few short words.
"We were robbed," says Burton. "The world was robbed of Davey Allison."
It's time that the sport paid the ultimate homage to him.
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