Bobby Allison’s amazing 1988 Daytona 500 win was all in the family
- At the 1988 Daytona 500, 50-year-old Bobby Allison and his 26-year-old son Davey put their NASCAR dynasties to the test.
- It was the only father-son finish and the second in the history of NASCAR’s biggest race.
- Davey only led two laps—162nd and 163rd—but was a powerhouse for most of the day.
Few other major sports can boast the strong family ties that NASCAR celebrates.
Fathers, sons, brothers and uncles inhabit NASCAR’s history from its early years to the present. betizAllison, Earnhardts, Trips, Labontes, JarrettsThe Pearsons and many other families with racing ties have given the sport a cross-generational appeal and have carried along one of the sport’s enduring questions: Can the son match the father?
This theme was on display in vivid terms in 1988 as 50-year-old father Bobby Allison and 26-year-old son Davey put their bloodlines to the test on NASCAR’s high ground – the Daytona 500.
It was clear early in the race week that both Allisons had strong cars. Bobby Thursday won his first 125-mile qualifying race Rusty WallaceDavey was third in the second qualifier.
Sunday’s race is going to be about recruiting, always a major factor in any Daytona race, and Bobby worked that out perfectly. He led 70 of the 200 laps of the race and was rarely challenged at the front.
Davey only led two laps – 162nd and 163rd – but was a force in front for most of the day, and it became clear in the closing miles that the Allison duo, mechanical issues barring, would be key players in the end.
Bobby took the lead with 18 laps to go, and a long drafting line formed behind him. Davey moved into second place and was content for most of the final miles to ride two cars behind his father, waiting for the moment when he might be able to make a charge.
Bobby took the white flag with two cars ahead of his son. As they raced between turns three and four one last time, Davey dropped onto the track as his father drifted high, and it seemed for a moment that Davey might push his Ford into first place. But Bobby had a power to go banking going into turn four, stayed on top and won by two car lengths.
It was the only father-son finish and the second in the history of NASCAR’s biggest race. (Father and son one-two finishes are rare in NASCAR. Lee Petty and his soon-to-be-famous son, Richard, finished one-two in a Cup race at Lakewood Speedway near Atlanta in 1959. Richard finished first, but Lee protested and was fired. reverse end).
Davey visited victory lane to join his dad’s celebration, and some memorable photos from that afternoon show Bobby happily pouring beer on his son’s head.
These photos are especially poignant for Bobby because he has no memories of that wonderful day. He was seriously injured later that season in a crash at Pocono Raceway, and his head injuries caused him to lose large parts of his racing memories.
The 1988 race at Daytona should be number one, however I still don’t remember 1988Bobby said. “One day maybe I will, and if that’s the case, maybe I’ll have to change my mind.”
500 was Bobby’s 84th and final win. He never raced again after the Pocono accident.