Editor’s note: I wrote this column in early January about why Davey Allison needs to join the list of 20 nominees to the NASCAR Hall of Fame and then be voted in as soon as possible. I stand by every word and now that he’s one of the finalists, I intend to vote for him today.
I spent part of Friday morning at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, where the 18 cars for the new Glory Road Icons exhibit were introduced.
Seventeen of the 18 cars were on display when I walked in, with one hidden under a car cover.
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The 17 visible cars on Glory Road were raced by the true legends of NASCAR: Petty, Pearson, Earnhardt, Waltrip, Bobby Allison, Gordon, Johnson and Kyle Busch, to name just a few.
The covered up car was unveiled during the morning event and it was a stunner: The No. 28 Ranier-Lundy Ford Thunderbird that Davey Allison drove in his rookie season of 1987. Yep, that is certainly an iconic car.
On hand to represent Davey were his father, Bobby; his son, Robbie; Larry McReynolds, who later worked as Davey’s crew chief; and veteran NASCAR spotter Lorin Ranier, son of Davey’s car owner in 1987 Harry Ranier. All spoke eloquently and warmly about Davey.
The four talked about Davey, not just as a driver, but as a man — a father, a son, a teammate, a friend. There were stories about how Davey was so good with race fans, even after a bad day at the track, and about how he would always sign autographs.
Larry Mac and I sat down after the event and he told me how knowledgeable Davey was about his race cars and how talented he was mechanically as well as behind the wheel. But most of all, he talked about what a great guy Davey was.
And as I sat and listened and saw that beautiful No. 28 Ford Thunderbird in the background, the light bulb went off: Davey’s car is the centerpiece of the new Glory Road Icons exhibit, yet he’s still not a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
That needs to change, and the sooner the better.
Davey Allison needs to be first nominated and then voted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
There are lots of worthy individuals waiting to go into the Hall. No question about it.
And evaluating someone who died just as he was entering the prime of his career is always tricky.
But the numbers speak volumes: Allison only raced six full seasons in what is now known as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. He won 19 of 191 starts, a winning percentage of 9.95 percent.
Let’s look at some other recent Hall of Fame members or upcoming inductees: Terry Labonte, 22 wins, 890 starts, 2.47 percent; Dale Jarrett, 32 wins 668 starts, 4.79 percent; Mark Martin, 882 starts, 40 wins, 4.53 percent; and Rusty Wallace, 706 starts, 55 wins, 7.79 percent.
Clearly, Allison’s winning percentage makes a strong case for him being worthy of induction.
Among his 19 victories, Allison won three of NASCAR’s crown jewels: the Daytona 500, the Coca-Cola 600 and the All-Star race. He also scored multiple wins at NASCAR’s biggest oval, Talladega.
Davey Allison (left) celebrates with his team in Victory Lane after winning the Winston 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in 1987.
RacingOne/ISC Archives via Getty Images
To give you an idea of his versatility, Allison was victorious on the 2-mile Michigan oval, on 1-mile tracks at Phoenix, Rockingham and Dover, on the Richmond and North Wilkesboro short tracks and at the Sonoma road course. He was good pretty much everywhere he raced.
As noted, there are a lot of worthy candidates out there.
But Davey Allison belongs in the NASCAR Hall of Fame now.
Getting Davey’s car on Glory Road was a good first step.
Now let’s get the man the Hall of Fame spot he so richly deserves.