- In the 1988 Daytona 500, 50-year-old Bobby Allison, and his son, 26-year-old Davey, put their NASCAR bloodlines to the test.
- It was the only father-son one-two finish in the history of NASCAR’s biggest race.
- Davey led only two laps—162 and 163—but was a force at the front most of the day.
Few other major sports can boast the strong family ties NASCAR celebrates.
Fathers, sons, brothers and uncles populate NASCAR history from its early years to the present. The PettysAllisons, Earnhardts, Waltrips, Labontes, The JarrettsPearsons and numerous other families with racing ties have given the sport appeal across generations and have carried along one of sport’s perpetual questions: Can the son match the father?
That topic was on display in vivid terms in 1988 as the father, 50-year-old Bobby Allison, and his son, 26-year-old Davey, put their bloodlines to the test on NASCAR’s high ground – the Daytona 500.
It was clear early in race week that both Allisons had powerful cars. Bobby won Thursday’s first 125-mile qualifying race over Rusty Wallaceand Davey was third in the second qualifier.
Sunday’s race would be about the draft, always a major factor in any Daytona race, and Bobby worked it to perfection. He led 70 of the race’s 200 laps and was rarely challenged at the front.
Davey led only two laps—162 and 163—but was a force at the front most of the day, and it became clear in the closing miles that the Allison duo, barring mechanical issues, would be major players in the finish.
Bobby took the lead with 18 laps to go, and a long drafting line formed behind him. Davey moved into the second position and was satisfied over most of the final miles to ride a couple of car lengths behind his father, waiting for the moment when he might be able to make a charge.
Bobby took the white flag with a two-car-length lead over his son. As they raced between the third and fourth turns for the final time, Davey dropped low on the track as his father drifted high and, for a moment, it appeared that Davey might push his Ford into first place. But Bobby had power coming off the banking in the fourth turn, stayed in front and won by two car lengths.
It was the only father-son one-two finish in the history of NASCAR’s biggest race. (Father-son one-two finishes are a rarity in NASCAR. Lee Petty and his about-to-become-famous son, Richard, finished one-two in a Cup race at Lakewood Speedway near Atlanta in 1959. Richard finished first, but Lee protested and the finish was reversed).
Davey visited victory lane to join in his father’s celebration, and some of the most memorable photographs from that afternoon show are Bobby happily pouring beer on his son’s head.
Those photographs are particularly poignant for Bobby because he has no memories of that spectacular day. He was critically injured later that season in a crash at Pocono Raceway, and head injuries caused him to lose large portions of his racing memories.
“The 1988 race at Daytona should be number one, but I still don’t remember 1988,” Bobby said. “Some day maybe I will, and, if so, maybe I’ll have to change my outlook.”
That 500 was Bobby’s 84th—and last—win. He never raced again after the Pocono accident.