Bob Allison was born December 3, 1937 in Miami, Florida. He entered his first race as a senior at Archbishop Curley-(Notre Dame) High School in Miami.
Since he was only 17 he had to have his parents permission so he thought when his mom said ok, it was forever, but she thought it was for only one race.
After graduating high school in 1955, Allison’s mom thought she would derail his racing interest by sending him to Wisconsin to work Mercury Outboard Motors, where her brother-in-law, Jimmy Hallett, was the national sales manager.
Unbeknownst to her Carl Kiekhaefer was the owner of Mercury Outboard Motors where Allison ended up working as a mechanic and an engine tester.
Once back in Miami, 1956, Allison restarted his own racing again. His parents said he couldn’t race and live at home, so Allison came up with a fictitious name which was used only once as he finished good enough to make the Sunday paper and his Dad saw it and knew who it was and told him that if he was going to race to do it with honor and use his own name.
So, in 1959 Allison took his brother, Donnie, Kenny Andrews who owned a car and Gill Hearn went along as Kenny’s driver, along on a quest for more lucrative racing than was available in south Florida.
Their searching led them to the Montgomery Speedway in Montgomery, Alabama, where he was told of a race that very night in Midfield, Alabama near Birmingham.
Allison entered and finished 5th in that race, which paid more than finishing 2nd in any big race in South Florida. Allison ran in the Indianapolis 500 twice, with a best finish of 25th in 1975.
His NASCAR team owners included DiGard, Junior Johnson & Associates, and Roger Penske, for whom Allison scored four of the five NASCAR wins for American Motors’ Matador.
The other AMC victory was accomplished by Mark Donohue also racing for Penske in 1973 at Riverside. He raced in NASCAR as a driver/owner of an AMC Matador.
Donnie had a similar story to Bobby: “Cale said I forced him in the mud. I did not. He wrecked himself and I was the unfortunate bystander to be in it. He and I have talked. We’re fine. We both view it as lost opportunities.
After he and I talked it out and agreed to disagree Bobby came to the crash site asking me if I wanted a ride. Somehow I don’t remember…but seconds later fists were thrown between Cale and Bobby.
I tried to get into the fight and got scratched in the cheek by Cale. I later kicked him when Bobby mopped him into the mud. All of us were fined $6,000 but between Daytona 500 and this fight, today it’s worth every penny to be involved in a fight that got NASCAR on the map.”
One year after the Talladega incident, Allison suffered a career-ending wreck at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania that left him with severe head injuries.
That was only the start of Allison’s racing tragedies. In 1993 both of his sons died in separate accidents—Clifford in a practice accident in Michigan and Davey in a helicopter crash at Talladega. The next year, Neil Bonnett, another member of the Alabama Gang, died in a Daytona 500 practice.