SI Vault
 
THE CLASS OF 2011
Elizabeth McGarr
December 23, 2010
THE LATEST HONOREES include an Alabama Gang member, a "pure driver," a prolific owner, a gentleman and a pioneer father
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December 23, 2010

The Class Of 2011

THE LATEST HONOREES include an Alabama Gang member, a "pure driver," a prolific owner, a gentleman and a pioneer father

BOBBY ALLISON

DAYTONA BEACH 1968

THE RÉSUMÉ

• Won title in 1983 at age 45, becoming the series' oldest champion

• Took first at the Daytona 500 in 1978, '82 and '88, finishing one spot ahead of his son Davey in '88

• Led for at least one lap in a record 39 straight races from September 1971 to October '72

• Won 84 races, tied for third alltime (with Darrell Waltrip)

• Most Popular Driver six times

THE LEGACY

A native Floridian, Allison made a name for himself in the Alabama Gang, a group of drivers, including his brother Donnie, who lived in Hueytown, Ala. At the 1979 Daytona 500 he and Donnie took on Cale Yarborough in the infamous backstretch brawl and a few years later SI explained the "Bobby Allison paradox": "Off the track he's warm, generous and patient.... But on the track he has a ruthless streak as wide as the racing groove." A near-fatal crash at Pocono in '88 forced him to retire, and he lost sons Davey (helicopter crash) and Clifford (wreck at Michigan) in the early '90s. He said in 2008, "We don't have to like what we're dealt in life, but we have to accept it."

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