With the Daytona 500 right around the corner, what better way to get ready for the iconic race than a stroll down memory lane?
In 1979, Bobby Allison was involved in one of the most memorable moments in the 60-year history of the Great American Race. Richard Petty may have ended up winning the race, but it was the fight that pitted Bobby and Donnie Allison against Cale Yarborough that will forever define the historic 1979 Daytona 500 — the first race ever aired on national television from start-to-finish.
Back in February 2018, Allison sat down with the folks at NASCAR on FOX and shared his recollection of the infamous slug-fest at Daytona International Speedway. You may have seen clips of the classic ’79 Daytona 500 finish or even tuned in live, but seeing Allison tell the story in his own words is flat-out hilarious.
“My brother Donnie was winning the race and on the last lap he got wrecked by the guy trying to pass him,” Allison said. “I went by the wreck and seen Donnie climbing out of his car so I went on and finished the race.”
“This other guy starts saying the wreck was my fault, I caused the wreck. Well I was on the other side of the racetrack when those guys were wrecking.”
The other guy, who Allison never actually refers to by name, was none other than Yarborough himself. What happened next is part of both NASCAR history and infamy.
“I think I questioned his ancestry, which I probably shouldn’t have done,” Allison said. “He had his helmet in his hand and he yelled some more and he ran toward me and he got right out here out from the car and he stopped and yelled some more, I think I questioned his ancestry a little further, I really shouldn’t have done it.”
“He lunged at me and hit me in the face with his helmet which really hurt, but it really surprised me. I didn’t think a professional competitor would use a weapon to go after somebody and I felt like that’s what happened.”
If the story stopped there, it would be enough, but hearing Allison tell the next part just adds to his status as one of the best to ever do it in NASCAR.
“Cut my nose and my lip, blood’s dripping in my lap and I said, ‘gotta get outta the car and handle this right now or I’m gonna be running from him the rest of my life,'” Allison said. “So I got outta the car and the guy got to beating on my fists with his nose.”
“I’ve had to stick with that story for a long time, but it’s still true.”
Can you imagine if something like this happened nowadays? Damn, those old school NASCAR days really were something else.