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Robbie Allison Is Chasing His Racing Legacy

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, July 30 2015
Robbie Allison – with the blessings of grandfather and NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison and grandmother Judy – is carrying on the family business. (Photo courtesy of Liz Allison)

Robbie Allison – with the blessings of grandfather and NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison and grandmother Judy – is carrying on the family business. (Photo courtesy of Liz Allison)

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
Racintoday.com

NASHVILLE – Robbie Allison, son of the late Davey Allison, grandson of legendary Bobby Allison, nephew of famed Donnie Allison, realizes he has an awesome family tradition to uphold.

bugfeatureAnd the name “Allison” paints a big target on his back.

“It can be a heavy load at times, but I’m proud of it,” says Robbie, 23, who this season is racing at Highland Rim Speedway, a quarter-mile track located 20 miles north of Nashville, and also at tracks in Kingsport and Virginia.

“During my first race at Highland Rim I must have been delicious because every driver out there tried to take a bite out of me,” joked the youngster about the pin-ball treatment he received.

While displaying the determination and natural driving ability of his father, grandfather and uncle, he has (so far) refrained from sharing their famous temper.

“I try to keep calm, and remember that I’m still fairly new at this and have a lot to learn,” Robbie said during a recent appearance on Nashville’s “Pit Pass” racing show. “Getting knocked around is all part of the learning experience.”

Robbie is Hollywood handsome, articulate and charismatic – a spitting image

Davey Allison got a beer shower from his father, Bobby Allison, after the 1988 Daytona 500. Davey's son Robbie hopes to be heading for the showers. (File photo courtesy of NASCAR)

Davey Allison got a beer shower from his father, Bobby Allison, after the 1988 Daytona 500. Davey’s son Robbie hopes to be heading for the showers. (File photo courtesy of NASCAR)

of his superstar father – and his presence is a plus for the track, says Highland Rim co-owner Roger Cunningham.

“Having Robbie racing here attracts a lot of attention,” he says. “He is a fine young man, personable and polite, and he’s going to be a great racer like his father and grandfather. We’re proud to have him.”

Bobby Allison, who lives in Mooresville, N.C., with wife Judy, planned to fly in for one of Robbie’s recent races, but was turned back by bad weather. The elder Allison, one of NASCAR’s greatest drivers who himself once raced at the Rim, hopes to catch a race before the season is over.

Last year Robbie lived with his grandparents in North Carolina while getting his racing career in gear. This year, driving for a team in East Tennessee, he moved to the Bristol/Kingsport area where he is a regular at Kingsport Speedway.

He maintains a hectic schedule: He races at Kingsport every Friday night, and after the race drives to Nashville (a five-hour trip), arriving at the home of his mother Liz and step-dad Ryan Hackett in the wee  hours of the morning. He catches a few winks of sleep, then heads to Ridgetop to begin preparations for the Rim’s Saturday night race. Sunday morning he’s back on the road to Kingsport.

“Robbie wasn’t born with a silver spoon,” says his mom, who has long been active in the sport as a TV reporter, author and radio show host – one of her current roles.

“When Davey was coming up in the sport, Bobby made him work, and now Robbie is doing the same thing. Nothing has been given to him. He’s earning it, and I’m proud of him.”

Robbie was a toddler when his father perished in a helicopter crash at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. Davey was flying in to watch family friend Neil Bonnett, a member of the famed “Alabama Gang,” practice for a comeback after a racetrack injury.

Shortly after the tragedy Liz moved from Hueytown, Ala., to Nashville with Robbie and his sister Krista to escape the depressing environment.

“People were very nice, but almost TOO nice,” Liz recalls. “They would come up to us on the street and start telling us about how much they loved Davey and break down and start crying. I decided it would be better for us all – the kids and me – to get away.”

When Robbie was 9, he entered a hobby-division race at Twin Fountains Speedway near Shelbyville. He was involved in an early crash, shaken up, and taken to a nearby hospital.

Given the Allison’s grim history – Bobby’s career-ending crash at Pocono, son Clifford’s fatal crash at Michigan and Davey’s helicopter crash at Talladega – Liz was understandably distraught that night as she saw her son being loaded onto the ambulance.

She said his racing days were over – at least for the time being.

“Nine was too young to be racing,” she says in retrospect. “I told Robbie that he could race again when he was old enough to make the decision for himself.”

Robbie respected his mother’s wishes. He stayed out of race cars throughout high school and while attending Middle Tennessee State University, where he majored in communications and marketing. Now he’s making up for lost time.

His plan is to continue to run lower-division races at tracks like Highland Rim Speedway,  Kingsport Speedway, and Lonesome Pine Raceway in Coeburn, Va., gaining experience and exploring whatever opportunities might come his way. His ultimate goal is to race in the NASCAR Cup Series, where the Allison name ranks second only to the Pettys in historical prominence.

“That’s my total focus right now,” he says. “It’s my dream.”

If grit and determination count, he’ll make it. He’s an Allison.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, July 30 2015
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