Judy Allison, Wife of NASCAR Legend Hall of Famer Bobby
Allison, Passes Away at Age 74
wife of one of NASCAR's most popular race car drivers died
unexpectedly on Friday.
Judy Allison passed away after complications from surgery at
Iredell Hospital in Statesville, N.C. She was 74.
She was the wife of Bobby Allison, who was voted NASCAR's
Most Popular Driver six times. He is a three-time winner of
the Daytona 500 -- 1978, 1982, 1988. He captured the NASCAR
Modified Special Division championship in 1962 and 1963 and
then went on to win the Modified Division the following two
years. He was named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers in
1998 and has more than 600 short-track wins in his career.
He was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of
Fame in 1993.
Allison, now 78, was involved in one of the scariest and
most spectacular crashes in NASCAR history on May 3, 1987.
Allison was running fourth in the No. 22 Stavola Brothers
Buick on Lap 21 of the Winston 500 at Talladega
to a 2010 Birmingham News story.
While coming through the front-stretch a tire went flat.
Allison's car, which had been going more than 200 mph,
turned sideways and became airborne. It struck the catch
fence, tearing a 150-foot hole in it and scattering debris
into the crowd. The race was delayed more than two hours
while repairs were made. When it resumed, Allison's son
Davey won. The crash prompted NASCAR to require restrictor
plates on carburetors at Talladega and Daytona to bring down
Bobby and brother Donnie, along with Neil Bonnett, Red
Farmer, and later, Hut Stricklin, comprised the famous
"Alabama Gang" which raced out of Hueytown and made their
mark in NASCAR in the 1960s through the 1980s.
But while the family had its share of success, it had more
than its share of tragedy -- more than
one family should have, according to NASCAR insiders.
Clifford Allison was Allisons' youngest son. On Aug. 13,
1992, at age 27, his racing career was still getting started
when he went out for practice in a Busch Series race at
Michigan International Speedway. He crashed between Turns 3
and 4 and died from his injuries.
Davey Allison, the couple's oldest son, had 19 career Cup
wins and had finished third in the standings in 1991 and
1992. On July 12, 1993, Allison was piloting a Hughes 369 HS
helicopter with Red Farmer as a passenger on his way to
Talladega to watch practice there. While attempting a
downwind landing, the helicopter oscillated from side to
side, rose about 25 feet, spun and crashed. Davey was flown
to Carraway Methodist Hospital, where he died the next day
from his injuries. Robert Yates, the owner of Davey's car,
was quoted as saying "God has asked an awful lot of this
deaths of sons Davey and Clifford and the death of close
friend and "Alabama Gang" member Neil Bonnett at Daytona in
1994 took their toll on Allison's marriage, former
Birmingham News racing writer Doug Demmons wrote five years
ago. Bobby and Judy Allison soon divorced. Allison had
gotten back into racing as a car owner after recovering from
his Pocono crash, but Bobby Allison Motorsports struggled
financially and eventually shut down in 1996. It was another
tragedy that brought Allison and his wife together again.
When Adam Petty, the son of Kyle Petty and grandson of
Richard, died in a racing accident in May 2000, Bobby and
Judy Allison went together to offer their condolences to the
Petty family. They remarried in July 2000.
Judy Allison's grandson, Robbie Allison, remembered his
grandmother on Twitter tonight. "Anyone who knows me knows
she was my special girl,'' Robbie Allison wrote. "I'll never
forget our moments together."