Work in Sports
SI Flashback: Like Father, like Son
Another Allison, Davey this time, wins the Daytona 500
by Ed Hinton
Issue date: February 24, 1992
The first time a driver wins the Daytona 500, he usually says that it is the happiest day of his racing career. Yet on Sunday, after he won this year's 500, 30-year-old Davey Allison said that it was not his happiest day in racing. That had come in 1988, after another Daytona 500, when he finished second to his father, Bobby. ''That was such a special day that I don't think anything could ever replace it,'' Davey said. ''But as far as wins go, this is the best one I've ever had.''
Sunday's race was not exactly a spine-tingler. Five favorites -- Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott, Ernie Irvan, Sterling Marlin and Mark Martin -- fell out of contention because of a 14-car pileup just before the halfway point of the race. ''The wreck took out all the people who had a shot at winning, except Davey Allison,'' Martin said.
Still, Allison had as much opportunity to succumb to that crash as anyone else. Coming out of Turn 2 on Lap 92 of the 200-lap race, Allison was right behind defending Daytona champion Irvan when Irvan dropped toward the apron, putting himself abreast of Elliott and Marlin. ''I followed Ernie until he made it three wide,'' Allison said. ''Then I said, 'Whoa! This is enough for me. I'm backing off.' I saw it coming. They just ran out of room, and they all got together. I moved to the outside, stood on the gas, looked in the mirror and saw all hell broke loose right behind me.''
After deftly avoiding the melee, Allison cruised his Thunderbird to victory with barely enough challenge from second-place Morgan Shepherd, also in a Thunderbird, to keep the 140,000 at Daytona International Speedway from yawning through the final laps.
Before Sunday, Richard Petty and his father, Lee, were the only father and son to win the Daytona 500 (Lee won the race in 1959 and Richard has won it seven times). And much of this year's crowd had come to Daytona to see if 54- year-old Richard, who has announced that he will retire after this season, could win it one more time. In this, his 32nd start in the Daytona 500, King Richard ran well all day, but he finished 16th.
Seeing an Allison in Victory Lane conjured up memories of the '88 race in which father and son staged an exciting duel over the last few laps, with Bobby beating Davey by two car lengths to win Daytona for the third time. It was the 84th victory of Bobby's career, and his last. Four months later he was in a crash at Pocono in which his left leg was shattered and he suffered a severe concussion. Bobby's leg has healed, and he may even return to racing, but some of his memory is still missing -- including any recollection of the '88 Daytona race. ''I've had some good times here myself. I remember all but one of them,'' Bobby, now 54, said after Davey's triumph. ''I guess I'll just have to guess what that felt like.'' Now his son can help him remember.
Issue date: February 24, 1992