Minter: Hall Candidates Lists Should Start With Allison
By Rick Minter | Senior Writer
With balloting for the NASCAR Hall of Fame just around the corner, there’s already speculation about who’ll make the second class. Surely David Pearson, who was passed over the first time around, will be a shoo-in. Likewise, Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip should go it, which could make for an interesting induction ceremony since neither former champion appears to have much use for the other.
Allison, in a recent interview, was as diplomatic as he’s ever been when discussing the possibility of being inducted alongside his long-time rival.
“Right now they have us tied in wins. If I get Winston-Salem, I’m one ahead of (Waltrip),” Allison said, referring to the race he and many others believe he won but somehow doesn’t get credit for. “We started out having a really good friendship. In fact I built cars for the guys he drove for early in his career. His first win was probably in a car I built for them, a Late Model Sportsman car. As he moved into the higher ranks, he just didn’t seem to want to retain the friendship.”
That Winston-Salem race still sticks in Allison’s craw, especially since it would give him 85 career wins, one more than Waltrip.
Back in the day when Winston representatives kept the records, the papers submitted to the press each week showed Allison with 85 career victories. Now the record books say otherwise. Allison isn’t buying it.
“I won a race in Melvin Joseph’s Mustang at Bowman Gray Stadium (in 1971 in Winston-Salem, N.C.),” he said. “Richard Petty ran second that night. For a couple of years it counted, and all of a sudden it came out. I thought they gave the win to Richard Petty, and of course the Pope isn’t going to take a win away from Richard Petty, It’s gone forever.
“I found out later that somebody had dropped mine and two of Tiny Lund’s that he won in his Camaro. A few years before Bill France Jr. died they reinstated Tiny’s two wins. Bowman Gray doesn’t have a winner, so that gives me 85.”
No matter how that issue, which arose because of cars from two different divisions competing in Cup, is ever resolved, there’s much more to Bobby Allison’s resume than just what he accomplished in the Cup division. Like Kyle Busch today, he’d race any car anywhere, and win more often than not.
“I won a lot of races in lot of different divisions,” he said. “I have no idea how many total. I had accounted for 610 including Sportsman, ASA and USAC, and those USAC races were major events. I won on lots of Saturday night tracks.
“On the Tuesday night of the week I was done in at Pocono, I won at Slinger Speedway (a short track in Wisconsin). It was about the fifth time I had won at Slinger, the Slinger Nationals. It paid good, and people from all over the country were there for it.”
So it’s no surprise that Allison is a big backer of Busch today.
“I have a lot of respect for Kyle Busch, especially on the same weekend to get out of a truck and into a Nationwide car and out of Nationwide car and into a Cup car and perform like he does,” Allison said. “Whatever he’s in, he drives 100 percent…Nobody is better. He really is doing the best job, start to finish.”
Allison is no big fan of the COT, and he’s not afraid to criticize NASCAR, even though he’d really like to be in the new Hall of Fame.
“I think the fans really, really responded to Ford, Dodge, and back in the old days Plymouth and Buick and whatever,” he said. “This new car, even though it’s really well thought out, really super safe and all that, it has lost some attraction to some of the fans.”
And he doesn’t believe the sport needs the level playing field that the car is intended to give.
“Whoever wanted a level playing field?” Allison asked. “Tip it a little in my favor some way or another.”
Allison also seems to still be disappointed in how his 1988 Pocono crash, and his long recovery from it, played out.
“NASCAR’s insurance didn’t pay for my deal at Pocono,” he said. “About seven years ago I finally paid it off. I sold all my antique cars, airplanes, tools, and learned how to tell stories.”
Still, that Hall of Fame induction would mean a lot to him.
“I hope it happens,” Allison said. “But crazy things can come and go with that.
“I hope it happens. It’s really special to me.”
– Rick Minter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments