Saturday, January 7, 2012

Bobby Allison, forgotten for a day

It was 1998, and I was in the Darlington Raceway infield when I ran into Bobby Allison. I'd talked to him many times, and he'd begun to remember me (despite his memory loss from a 1988 wreck at Pocono).

We wanted to talk, but it was way too hot outside, so we decided to go to the media center. I had a media pass, of course, but Bobby didn't. The young guard didn't recognize Bobby, naturally, and the legendary driver sighed. I smiled. It took some talking, and I think Bobby finally showed him something that let him in. Otherwise, we might have had to talk in that little area between the front door and the media center itself.

When we sat down to talk, I mentioned that to Allison and said, "That guy doesn't know the history of the sport." He sighed again. I asked, "Does that bother you?"

"No, people forget," he said. As for a sense of racing history, "It doesn't mean as much to him as it does to you and me."

We had a nice interview that day, and I think Dick Trickle edged Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the Busch (now Xfinity) race. Bobby Allison and Dick Trickle ... now that's a pair.

Remembering Dale Earnhardt

Here's an excerpt from Angel in Black: Remembering Dale Earnhardt, Sr.

From Humpy Wheeler, then the president of Lowe's Motor Speedway (now Charlotte Motor Speedway):

"Behind that macho facade was a real sensitive individual who did a lot of things for a lot of people and didn't want any publicity in return. He was part of a very loving family and was truly an extraordinary human being. To think he is not around anymore is incomprehensible."

Jeff Gordon's milk toast to Dale Earnhardt

An excerpt from the book Angel in Black: Remembering Dale Earnhardt Sr.:

One of my favorite Earnhardt stories is Dale's supposed intimidation of Jeff Gordon and Gordon's reaction. Gordon won the first Brickyard 400, in 1994, and Earnhardt won the next year. Earnhardt got on TV and told a talk-show host that he was the first man to win the Brickyard 400. At one point, a rumor was circulating that Gordon was gay, and that apparently came out of the Earnhardt camp. Gordon, who was painfully young and youthful-looking then, took it well enough that the whole intimidation thing died out.

At a NASCAR banquet one year (probably 1996), Gordon drank a milk toast to Earnhardt, who responded with champagne. Gordon was certainly no milquetoast, and Earnhardt recognized that. The two actually became business partners, and in photos you can see Earnhardt's affection for Gordon.

Earnhardt had 76 Cup victories. Who would later pass him for sixth place on the all-time victory list? Gordon, of course.

(NOTE: Gordon has since moved up to third all time with 92 victories, including his four wins in 2014.)


More entries from TARJ
(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
(the book of great NASCAR stories)

EDITOR@WORK blog entries 

Entries from The Dog Blog
More blog entries by Tom Gillispie

Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie