On July 13, 1993, the NASCAR community tragically lost one of its greatest drivers.
Davey Allison was one of those champions who wanted to win, no matter what. During his short but incredibly successful career, Allison won over fans with his endless drive and mind-blowing skills on the track. Even after enduring multiple crashes that nearly took his life, he came back to the speedway more determined to win than ever. At the height of his career, Davey Allison died in what is still known as one of the most shocking tragedies in NASCAR history. Although a number of drivers have since taken the wheel of the No. 28 car, fans still see it as a symbol of a young talent that was taken far too soon.
Davey Allison was born on February 25, 1961, in Hollywood, Fla. His father, Bobby Allison, was a legend on the track, who won the Winston Cup champion in 1983 and the Daytona 500 three times.
Davey grew up in Hueytown, Ala., the birthplace of NASCAR’s so-called “Alabama Gang.” Bobby Allison, his brother Donny, Neil Bonnett and Red Farmer set up shop in the area, which was full of dirt tracks and became the group’s unofficial headquarters. When the trio’s sons became old enough to race, Davey Allison, Hut Stricklin, and David Bonnett became the gang’s second generation.
After Allison began working for his father’s stock car team as a teenager, he started racing on his own and quickly moved up from events in the Automobile Racing Club of America to NASCAR’s lower divisions. In 1987, Harry Ranier hired Allison to drive the black, red and yellow No. 28 Texaco-Havoline Ford, which became a fixture at the front of the pack.
On May 3, 1987, Bobby and Davey Allison started the Winston 500 in the second and third positions, just behind leader Bill Elliott. After just 22 laps, Bobby Allison’s car hit debris and flipped into the grandstand fencing. Although some spectators were injured, Allison walked away unharmed. The incident left Allison all the more determined to win. After a four-hour delay, the race resumed and Allison passed Dale Earnhardt for the win. Later that year, he won a race at Dover International Speedway, making him the first driver to win two Winston Cup races during his rookie year.
Just a year later, Allison’s father was involved in a near-fatal accident at the Pocono Raceway. Bobby Allison managed to fully recover from a traumatic head injury, and Davey kept pushing forward. Davey Allison scored many more wins in the coming years, and it seemed as though he had a long and fruitful racing career ahead of him.
Danger on the Track
In 1992, Davey’s car was involved in a wreck with Dale Earnhardt and Kyle Petty during the last segment of the Winston all-star race. Allison’s car hit the wall hard and knocked him unconscious. He was airlifted to a nearby hospital in Charlotte with an array of injuries, including a concussion and bruised lung. Somehow, Allison returned to the track just a week later and finished fourth in the Coca-Cola 600.
Davey’s brother, Clifford, was killed during a NASCAR Busch Series practice in Michigan a short time later. Although devastated, Davey was once again undeterred and went on to have one of his most successful seasons.
He was involved in another accident at Pocono later that season, which caused his car to flip multiple times before landing on a guardrail. He suffered yet another concussion and various broken bones. These crashes did not stop Allison from driving, even though it was interfering with his recovery. Ironically, an accident at a speedway cut Allison’s life short, but not from behind the wheel of a stock car.
A Tragic Ending
On July 12, 1993, Allison boarded his brand new helicopter to fly toward Talladega Superspeedway. He picked up fellow Alabama Gang member Red Farmer to visit Neil Bonnett and his son David, who were planning to test a car for David’s upcoming Busch Series debut. The copter went nose up when he tried to land on the speedway’s infield and crashed into the ground. Bonnett pulled Farmer from the wreckage, but Allison was unresponsive. He was transferred to a hospital where they determined he had suffered a critical head injury. Davey Allison died at 7:00 a.m. the next morning. He was 32 years old.
During his short career, Davey Allison won 19 NASCAR Winston Cup races and won over six million dollars. His family, friends and fans continue to carry on his legacy and celebrate him as one of the best drivers in history.