MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Ricky Rudd and the late Davey Allison will be honored by the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall Of Fame with in-ground plaques in front of The Charles Mack Citizens Center on Sept. 25.
Rudd from Chesapeake, Va., nicked named “The Rooster” for his grit and determination had an outstanding career in his 33 years behind the wheel in NASCARS Cup division. He was the original “Ironman,” competing in 906 races, of which 788 were consecutive starts, which was the record until Jeff Gordon surpassed him in 2015. He ran every race from 1981 through 2005.
Rudd won 23 times in NASCAR’s premier division, which included a victory in the 1997 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He finished in the top-10 in races a whopping 374 times and had 29 pole positions.
He drove for a variety of car owners such as his father when he won Rookie of the Year in 1977. Other car owners included Bill Champion, Junie Donlavey, the DiGard team, Richard Childress, Bud Moore, Kenny Bernstein and Robert Yates. In 1994 Rudd took a major leap by forming his own team. Sponsored by Tide, the team won six races before shutting down following the 1999 season.
Rudd’s legacy is cemented not by race wins, but his toughness. During the 1984 Busch Clash at Daytona Rudd and Jody Ridley got together with Rudd in the Bud Moore Ford flipping many times just shy of the pit road entrance.
Rudd was badly bruised and spent that night in the hospital. But eight days later with his eyes duct taped open he managed to finish the Daytona 500 and finished in eight place. A remarkable achievement.
Faced with another race in just a few days at Richmond (Va.) Raceway, his toughness was on display again as with his eyes duct taped open again he managed to outduel Darrell Waltrip over the final 20 laps to win the Miller High Life 400.
Today Rudd, wife Linda, and their son Landon reside in Cornelius, N.C., where he enjoys flying, has done some acting, including an appearance on the TV show Dallas, and has been on the NASCAR Hall of Fame selection committee, a role that is on hold because he is on the nominating list for induction.
The late Allison was one of the sports brightest stars before his life tragically ended in a helicopter crash at Talladega (Ala.) Speedway in 1993. In his nine-year career in NASCAR’s Cup division he won 19 races, had 66 top-10 finishes, and 14 poles. He was also the 1993 International Race of Champions champion, which was awarded posthumously.
Allison was the first second-generation Alabama Gang driver and carried on the tradition of winning that was established by his father Bobby, his uncle Donnie, Neil Bonnett and Red Farmer. Once he graduated high school he concentrated solely on racing, which began in the ARCA Racing Series, where he won six races.
He made his first NASCAR Cup start in 1984 driving the Hoss Ellington car to a 10th-place finish at Talladega. He ran five Cup races in 1985 for the Sadler Brothers, and a limited schedule in 1987 for the Harry Ranier team. He won two races that year, at Talladega and Dover, and was the Rookie of the Year in the Cup Series.
In 1988 the team ran the full season with engine builder Robert Yates buying the team. With Larry MacReynolds as crew chief in 1991, the team became one of the most celebrated owner/driver combinations in NASCAR. The team won two races in 1988, ’89, ’90 and five races in ’91. The team started the ’92 season off with a bang by winning the Daytona 500 and two other races.
Allison suffered his worst racing accident that year crashing and flipping his car at Pocono Raceway, breaking his arm and wrist. Tragedy struck the Allison family again later that year when Davey’s younger brother, Clifford, died in a practice crash at Michigan. Despite the grief Davey soldiered on, winning one more race at Phoenix and was in contention for the Cup championship before he tangled with Ernie Irvan at Atlanta in the final race of the year. Alan Kulwicki, who finished second in the race, won the Cup title by a mere 10 points.
The Yates team was one of the favorites to win the 1993 series championship and scored a win early in the season in Richmond. Unfortunately Allison lost his life in July of that year when his helicopter crashed in the infield at Talladega as he and Red Farmer were there to watch Neil Bonnett’s son, David, practice.
“Ricky was as tough as they come. He always represented a can do attitude and never gave up under the toughest conditions,” said Don Miller of the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame. “His record stands firm and illustrates his commitment to the sport of stock car racing.
“Davey Allison was a great race car driver and a wonderful representative of the sport. More than all the statistics can reveal, he was like family to me. From the time he first hit the track, backed by his Peach Fuzz Gang until he hoisted the trophy in Daytona’s victory lane, he remained honest and true to his beliefs, a great competitor, husband, father, and every man’s champion. Congratulations to both men.”
Open to the public, the dedication of the Rudd and Allison in-ground plaques will be held outside The Charles Mack Citizen Center on the Walk of Fame located at 215 N Main Street in historic downtown Mooresville, N.C., starting at 3 p.m.