TOLEDO, Ohio – The legacy of the Allison name is well documented in the annals of stock car racing.
It started with brothers’ Bobby and Donnie Allison – part of the infamous Alabama Gang – who barnstormed across the south racing stock cars, eventually landing in NASCAR where they became household names.
Eventually, the torch got handed down to the second generation of Allison’s. Brothers’ Davey and Clifford were well on their way up the NASCAR charts before their lives were cut short in tragic accidents.
Onto the third generation of Allison’s where Justin Allison, the grandson of NASCAR legend and International Motorsports Hall of Fame driver Donnie Allison, is now trying to scratch his name into the big-league stock car history books.
And the most common question the third-generation Allison gets is that good old-fashioned standby, the one about carrying on the family legacy.
“I wish I had the perfect answer for that one,” said the 21-year-old Salisbury, N.C. driver.
“I get asked that more than any other question, and, honestly, I just don’t have an answer for that; I can’t really explain it. I suppose I’m going to have to sit down and give that some serious thought.”
Allison has just one ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards start in last year’s Kansas Speedway finale where he finished 11th driving the No. 88 Ford for Team BCR, which also fields cars for ARCA winner Grant Enfinger, who just happens to be from Alabama.
At any rate, it’s now onto Daytona Int’l Speedway for the 51st running of the Lucas Oil 200 presented MAVTV American Real Saturday, February 15. Allison tested at Daytona in December during ARCA’s three-day open test.
“I found Daytona to be a little easier than Kansas. Just pretty much hold it to the floor and turn left. In fact I found it easier than any short track I’ve ever raced on. I’m sure it’ll all be a different story in the race when we’re all hooked up in the draft and swapping spots. I’m looking forward to learning more about what speedway racing’s all about.”
Justin’s grandfather Donnie had some great runs at Daytona over the years, winning the Firecracker 400 in 1970. His best finish in the Daytona 500 was third in 1969. He also finished fourth in the 500 in 1979. Donnie won 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup races over his career, including the World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1970. Donnie also finished fourth in the Indianapolis 500 in 1970.
“He’s (Donnie Allison) always giving me advice. He pretty much told me that you really have to pay attention at that track (Daytona) more so than the rest. He’s given me a lot of great advice. With all the experience he has in stock cars, there isn’t a paper big enough for all the advice he’s got.”
Asked if, because of his last name, he feels the pressure, Allison answered, “Yes and no. There’s always pressure there regardless of your last name. I’m not really sure what the expectations are for me; I guess it depends on who’s doing the evaluating.
“I really don’t let it bother me. I just do my thing and try to block out the unwanted pressure.”
Despite Allison’s ARCA rookie status, his goals are clear for Daytona.
“Our goal is to win it. Obviously, we have to run the whole race to accomplish that, and I know I’ve got a lot to learn out there. I’m really looking forward to the experience, but if we’re there at the end, our goal should be nothing short of winning it. That’s why we do this.”
Allison plans to run in at least 10 ARCA Racing Series events in 2014, which so far includes the announced televised races on FOX Sports 1 and 2. Howard Bixman, longtime ARCA car owner and Team BCR manager, will serve as Allison’s crew chief. Bixman is also a former ARCA driver. The team’s No. 88 Havaco-Multi Services Ford at Daytona will be powered by Roush Yates Engines.
Enfinger, already a two-time ARCA winner in 2013 with victories at Mobile Int’l Speedway and Iowa Speedway, will serve as teammate and team mentor to Allison throughout the season.
The Allison family has an enduring history with the ARCA Racing Series reaching back to 1975 when Bobby Allison won the ARCA race at Salem Speedway.
Bobby, a three-time winner of the Daytona 500, also brought both his sons, Davey and Clifford, through the ARCA Racing Series ranks as part of their driver development en route to NASCAR.
Davey, the 1984 ARCA Rookie of the Year, made 40 career ARCA Racing Series starts from 1980 through 1986, finishing second in championship standings in 1984 and third in 1985. He also won eight races over his ARCA career, including four wins at Talladega Superspeedway, two at Atlanta Motor Speedway, one at Middle Georgia Speedway and one at Lucas Oil Raceway. His ARCA career includes 21 top-five finishes and 25 top-10s overall, and five pole awards – three at Talladega, one at Atlanta and one at Lorain County Speedway. Davey, like his father before him, won the Daytona 500 in 1992.
Davey’s younger brother Clifford made 12 ARCA Racing Series starts from 1988 through 1992 finishing a career-best second two times at Michigan Int’l Speedway and Pocono Raceway in 1992.