When the phrase "Thrill of Victory and Agony of Defeat" was first coined, the author must have had Robert Arthur Allison in mind. "If I had kept a business chart of my racing career, it would have more peaks and valleys than the State of Arizona," he said.
He started his Winston Cup career in 1966 with a homemade Chevelle. "Somebody told me my chances of winning a race were about the same as Twiggy winning the heavyweight boxing championship. That made me mad" Allison recalls. Bobby Allison didn't win one race -- he won three. His fast start was accompanied by controversy, a years-long feud with Richard Petty and an ongoing war with the media.
Through it all, Allison became one of the winningest drivers on the circuit. He's fourth in wins, 84; fifth in poles, 57; fifth in prize money won, $7.2 million; led at least one lap for 39 consecutive races, a record; and third in miles led, 29,205.2 Allison won 38 races after his 40th birthday. Only 12 other drivers have won that many races in a career. Over a twenty-two year career that was interrupted by near tragedy on June 19, 1988, Allison was six times voted Most Popular Driver by the fans, twice honored as American Driver of the Year, and three times the National Motorsports Press Associations' Driver of the Year. He won the 1983 Winston Cup Championship after being a runner-up five times.
"Winning the championship is still my biggest thrill. It's the biggest of any one thing I've ever accomplished. But it's also that I'm on par with the Parsons, Yarboroughs, Pettys and Jarretts. It was an effort that really had started years and years before and had gone through trial after trial to get that far," said Allison.
One of 12 offspring born into the family of Edmund and Kitty Allison, Bobby was born on December 3, 1937. At age nine, he decided he was going to race cars. He started racing in 1955 at Hialeah, Florida. He had already moved to Hueytown, Alabama, when he launched his Winston Cup career. The former Judy Bjorkman and bobby were married on February 20, 1960, when Allison was still living in Florida. They had four children and it was son Davey who ran second to his father in the 1988 Daytona 500 and carried on the winning tradition of the "Alabama Gang" until his tragic death.
Allison, a perfectionist who won the Daytona 500, Winston 500 and World 600 three times each, and the Southern 500 on four occasions, has earned a place in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. Racing has exacted a tremendous price for Bobby Allison, and it is immeasurably better because of him.