Bobby Allison’s Baker’s Dozen
by Tom Jensen June 10, 2022
These 13 different cars show that Bobby Allison could – and did – win in most everything he drove.
Editor’s note: Bobby Allison’s championship-winning 1983 DiGard Racing Buick is on display at the NASCAR Hall of Fame as part of our “Dale Jr.: Glory Road Champions” exhibit.
As much as anything possibly could, that single word sums up the career of the great Bobby Allison, leader of the “Alabama Gang” of racers and a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2011.
In a premier series driving career that stretched over 718 races from 1961 to 1988, Allison won 84 races, a total that trails only fellow Hall of Famers Richard Petty (2010), David Pearson (2011) and Jeff Gordon (2019).
Immensely talented behind the wheel, Allison was also a skilled mechanic and setup man who knew how to get the most out of any car he raced. Allison won a pair of NASCAR Modified Division titles in 1964 and ’65, adding a premier series title in 1983.
While the numbers alone are impressive, the truth is Allison won most everywhere he went. Here are 13 cars the Hueytown, Alabama, racer competed in during his Hall of Fame career.
After splitting the first 15 races of 1967 driving for Donald Brackens and Hall of Famer Bud Moore (2011), Allison moved to the No. 6 Dodge of Cotton Owens (2013). Allison won once in 10 starts driving for Owens before reuniting with Brackens. For the year, Allison won what was at that time a career-high six races.
The 1970 season was a successful one for Allison, as he finished second in points and won three races, all in Coca-Cola-sponsored No. 22 Dodges, with Mario Rossi listed as the owner for about half the races and Allison the owner for the remainder. This was the last year that the Dodge Charger Daytona and its sibling “winged warrior,” the Plymouth Superbird, competed at NASCAR’s faster tracks.
With 10 victories on the year, 1971 was Allison’s first season with double-digit win totals. And how’s this for a stat: From May 30 to June 26, Allison won five consecutive races in three different cars: A Ford and a Mercury for Holman-Moody Racing and a Dodge Allison owned. In those five races, Allison won three poles and qualified second twice.
After campaigning Dodges for the first 15 races of 1971, Allison joined forces with the Ford Motor Co. factory team of Holman-Moody Racing. Eight of Allison’s 10 wins in ‘71 came driving Ford and Mercury race cars fielded by Holman-Moody. Allison’s most significant victories were the World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway and the Talladega 500.
New year, new team, new manufacturer, same results. In 1972, Allison switched to Chevrolets owned by Richard Howard and tuned by crew chief Herb Nab. For the second consecutive season, Allison won 10 races, including the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. He also finished second in points and in the second half of the season, Allison had a string of five straight poles.
Hall of Fame team owner Roger Penske (2019) struck a deal with American Motors to take the automaker racing in NASCAR. In 1975, Allison drove one of Penske’s AMC Matadors to three victories in just 19 starts, including a win on the old Riverside International Raceway road course in Southern California and his Daytona 500 qualifying race. The Matador was both ugly and highly inefficient aerodynamically, but Allison still won races in it.
After Roger Penske could not get American Motors Corporation to re-design the front end of the AMC Matador to his liking, the car owner opted to run a Mercury Montego during the 1976 season with sponsorship from CAM-2 Oil. Despite posting 15 top-five finishes in 30 races, Allison went winless for the first time since 1965.
One of Allison’s most successful stints came in the period from 1978-80, when he drove Fords for Hall of Fame team owner Bud Moore (2011). During those three seasons, Allison won 14 races, including the 1978 Daytona 500, and had 46 top fives and finished second, third and sixth in the points.
After three years driving Fords, Allison moved to Ranier Racing in 1981, when he drove three General Motors brands: Chevrolet, Pontiac and Buick. Teamed with Hall of Fame crew chief Waddell Wilson (2020), Allison won five races, including another World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and finished second in points.
In 1982, Allison joined up with Bill Gardner’s DiGard Racing, his third team in three years. The change was a good one, though, as Allison won eight races and finished second in points for the fifth time. Allison swept both races at Daytona International Speedway, winning the Daytona 500 in February and the Firecracker 400 on Fourth of July.
After finishing second in the premier series points standings on five different occasions, Allison was finally able to seal the deal and win the championship in 1983. In 30 races, Allison won six times in 1983, with the biggest victory coming in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
Midway through the 1985 season, Allison left DiGard Racing and campaigned his own cars for the remainder of the year. In 1986, he moved to Stavola Brothers Racing, where he won the spring race at Talladega Superspeedway and scored six top-five and 15 top-10 finishes.
When Bobby Allison won his third Daytona 500, his 1988 season seemed to get off to a great start. Unfortunately, a serious accident on the opening lap of the Miller High Life 500 at Pocono Raceway in June ended his driving career.