By Chris Stevens
July 13, 1993 was a dark day for NASCAR. Just months after the sport lost its reigning Winston Cup Champion Allan Kulwicki, it lost one of its brightest stars Davey Allison. I had met Davey a few weeks prior to the helicopter crash that took his life. My great uncle Steve Richardson worked for the News Journal in Daytona Beach and would take us into the pits for practice and qualifying. I was sitting on the pit wall soaking up the atmosphere as the teams began to roll the cars out onto the grid, Robert Yates and his team pushed the black and fluorescent orange number 28 out of the garage and past me on pit road. Davey was one of a very few drivers that helped push his car and tinkered alongside his mechanics to make it faster.
Another driver, Ernie Irvan was talking to us and Davey left his car and came over, he flashed that Allison smile and spoke to each of us as if he known us for a lifetime. It was an experience that I never forgot. Fast forward to last season, 2015, Davey’s son Robbie has decided to pursue racing and is participating in the weekly racing series at Kingsport Speedway. My first impression of the third generation driver is amazement at how much he looks like his father and grandfather. He has a very personable attitude and is laid back.
I asked him who has the most influence on his life, he said that his father of course, but more so his grandfather Bobby Allison. He also remarked that Bobby is his best friend and he relies heavily on him for advice on racing and on life in general. Robbie went on to say that he liked Tim Richmond’s style and charisma and that Ricky Rudd was also influential on his own driving style and was one of his heroes growing up. I asked if he had a five or ten year plan, he replied that “in racing your plans can change daily and weekly at times” but he wanted to race as long as he could. Robbie would like to be in one of NASCAR’s top tiers in some capacity either as a driver or promoter. I asked about the legendary Alabama Gang and what influence they had on his career. Robbie said that Red Farmer has been mentoring him on dirt racing and that his uncle Donnie Allison is the one who “tells me when I screw up”.
I was interested to know what the highlight of his young career has been and he said “winning my first time out and having my grandparents here with me”, he also said that he was very proud of the car he brought to Kingsport Speedway on this night. It was a tribute to his grandfather Bobby when he drove the maroon and gold number 12 Camaro back in the day, Robbie said that Bobby had gotten emotional seeing the paint scheme. I inquired if we would ever see him in the number 28, which his father made famous, and more than likely be a no. He thought his father would be happy seeing him in the 12. 12 is also special to the family because Bobby, Davey and now Robbie have all drove car the bared that number and had success in it.
I wondered what his father’s legacy meant to him and he only wanted to be known for two things; being a good person and being a good race car driver. His Uncle Donnie told him “your best asset is how you treat people”. Robbie is well on his way to being a superstar, whether as a driver or broadcaster or race track promoter. He has the talent and the Allison smile, and the support of a NASCAR Hall of Famer guiding him. I would not be surprised to see him in the seat of Roger Penske’s number 12 car one day soon.
Next year we will have the chance to see the young Allison behind the wheel of Lorin Ranier’s ARCA car. Yes that’s the same Ranier family name that helped launch Davey into the spotlight in the famous #28. Lorin’s father sold the team to Robert Yates and the rest is history. Lorin retired as spotter for Jamie McMurray and has been coaching Robbie and sees a glimpse of destiny in him. This is going to be an extraordinary journey, and I can’t wait to be a witness to having an Earnhardt, an Elliott and an Allison on the track together again. It will be like 1990’s all over again.