|Donnie Allison won 10 Winston Cup races and was a member of the
famed "Alabama Gang", but Donnie may be best remembered for
his role in the infamous brawl with Cale Yarborough following the 1979
During most of the '90s Allison worked with a number of race teams in both the Winston Cup and Busch series. Allison admitted, " I've done deals with race teams just trying to make a living. I want to run competitive-like I used to do when I was a driver. I want to race. I don't want to just show up."
Donnie did not grow up wanting to be a race driver, it was a challenge by his brother Bobby that turned him to racing. Bobby told Donnie that he would never be a race driver and with that in mind Donnie proved his older brother wrong. Donnie went on to win close to 400 short track races throughout the country as well as 10- NASCAR Winston Cup events. His Winston Cup wins included victories at Daytona, Talladega, Charlotte, Atlanta, Rockingham and Bristol.
It was Banjo Matthews who gave Donnie his big break in 1968. Donnie said Banjo was the best thing that ever happened to him and Banjo was the smartest man he had ever been around in Winston Cup.
He enjoyed the best season of his career in 1970 while driving for Matthews. Allison never competed in more than 21 races in a single season, won the World 600 at Charlotte, the Firecracker 400 at Daytona and the Southwestern 400 at Bristol that year and in 19 starts, Allison had 10 top five finishes. Donnie also finished fourth in the Indianapolis 500, winning honors as the series' top rookie while driving for A. J. Foyt.
Allison said his biggest disappointment was not winning the Daytona 500 or any races at Darlington. Donnie had the fastest car at Darlington five straight races and still couldn't find a win. Donnie was in a position to win the Daytona 500 on three occasions, 1969, 1974 and 1979 but failed to capitalize. The 1979 Daytona 500 has to be the most famous and controversial one of them all. Donnie was leading as the field was given the white flag. He and Cale Yarborough tangled while battling for the lead on the last lap. Shortly after the race, they were involved in a fight that also included brother Bobby and was featured on National TV.
Donnie's career came to a halt in the 1981 World 600 at Charlotte when he was severely injured in a crash in which Dick Brooks rammed into him after Allison spun in turn four. He only competed in thirteen Winston Cup races after that accident. His last race was the Champion Spark Plug 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 21, 1988.Allison said, "I had all the confidence in the world in my abilities and the fact that my injuries were healed, but I just could not get the opportunity (to drive a top car again). I talked to several people, but for whatever reason, they weren't sure about my head injury or...I just never got the opportunity. It was all downhill from then on." Allison's desire to win was what helped him build his racing career. I often wonder what he could have done if not for that one accident that took him away from Winston Cup and racing for the top owners.