- At the 1988 Daytona 500, 50-year-old Bobby Allison and his son, 26-year-old Davey, put their NASCAR bloodlines to the test.
- It was the only father-son double win in the history of NASCAR’s biggest race.
- Davey only led two laps – 162 and 163 – but was a force at the front for most of the day.
Few other major sports can boast the strong family bonds that NASCAR celebrates.
Fathers, sons, brothers and uncles populate NASCAR history from the early years to the present. The PettiesAllison’s, Earnhardt’s, Waltrips, Labontes, Jarrett’sPearsons and numerous other families with racing ties have made the sport attractive for generations, taking with them one of the sport’s eternal questions: Can the son keep up with the father?
This theme became vividly evident in 1988 when father, 50-year-old Bobby Allison, and son, 26-year-old Davey, tested their bloodlines at the pinnacle of NASCAR – the Daytona 500.
Early in the race week it was clear that both Allison’s had strong cars. Bobby won the first 125 mile qualifying race on Thursday Rusty Wallaceand Davey finished third in the second qualifier.
Sunday’s race was all about the airflow, which has always been an important factor in any race at Daytona, and Bobby worked on that perfectly. He led 70 of the 200 laps of the race and was rarely challenged at the front.
Davey only led two laps – 162 and 163 – but was a force in the lead for most of the day and on the closing miles it was clear that barring mechanical issues, the Allison duo would be the main players at the finish.
Bobby took the lead with 18 laps to go and a long mark line formed behind him. Davey moved into second position and for most of the final miles was content to ride a few car lengths behind his father and wait for the moment when he could potentially attack.
Bobby took the white flag two car lengths ahead of his son. As they drove between turns three and four for the last time, Davey fell low on the track while his father drifted high, and for a moment it looked like Davey was pushing his Ford into first place. But Bobby had power from the bank in the fourth corner, stayed in front and won by two car lengths.
It was the only father-son double win in the history of NASCAR’s biggest race. (Father-son doubles are a rarity in NASCAR. Lee Petty and his soon-to-be-famous son Richard finished the double in a 1959 cup race at Lakewood Speedway near Atlanta. Richard finished first, but Lee protested and the finish was reversed).
Davey visited Victory Lane to attend his father’s celebration and some of the most memorable photos from that afternoon show Bobby happily pouring beer on his son’s head.
These photos are particularly poignant for Bobby because he has no memory of that spectacular day. Later that season, he was badly injured in a crash at Pocono Raceway, and head injuries caused him to lose much of his racing memory.
“The 1988 race at Daytona was supposed to be number one, but I can’t remember 1988 yet‘ said Bobby. “One day maybe I will, and if I do, maybe I need to change my mindset.”
That 500 was Bobby’s 84th – and last – win. After the Pocono accident, he never raced again.