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Bobby Allison and Martinsville Speedway

29 July 1997

                      MARTINSVILLE MEMORIES 

MARTINSVILLE, VA - The records show that Bobby Allison won at every
NASCAR Winston Cup track on which he completed but one--Martinsville

That's not quite right. While he never won a Winston cup event at Clay
Earles' 0.526-mile layout, he did capture a 100-lap Modified race in

Allison, the 1983 Winston Cup Champion who retired with 84 victories
and is in the NMPA Hall of Fame, had enough frustration at
Martinsville for ten drivers. In all, he finished second six times and
third six times.

But one of his most memorable performances came in a race in which he
finished third, driving a "Junkyard Chevelle" in the 1966 Old Dominion
(now Hanes) 500.

Allison, a perennial winner on the Modified and sportsman Circuit,
felt he had missed the boat as the season opened. "I was wondering if
I hadn't perhaps waited too long to make my move in Grand National
(Winston Cup) racing," he said. "I felt pretty bad about my chances
for anything better and being competitive seemed farther and farther
out of reach."

But a Chevrolet Chevelle in a junkyard at Birmingham, AL was the
stepping stone. "The car had been in a flood in New Orleans and it
took 16 days and nights of constant work to turn it into a race car,"
he said.

With brother Eddie handling most of the mechanical work, the Allisons
stunned everyone by scoring three wins, taking 100-milers at Oxford,
ME and Beltsville, MD and a 300-lapper at Islip, NY when the tour
included 49 races.

Allison, an independent, was given little chance at Martinsville
against factory supported drivers like Fred Lorenzen, Darel Dieringer,
Dick Hutcherson, Cale Yarborough, Junior Johnson, Sam McQuagg, Jim
Paschal, Ned Jarrett, Richard Petty, Paul Goldsmith, David Pearson and
Curtis Turner.

But no one told Allison. He put the Chevelle, powered by a 350 cubic
inch engine out of a Camaro, into an unimpressive 17th starting
position. Working traffic, he steadily climbed to seventh at 60 laps,
to fifth at 80 laps, past Yarborough to take fourth at 90 laps and
past Goldsmith for third at 100 laps.

That left only Lorenzen and Johnson in front of him and when both
pitted, Allison took the lead on the 110th lap. He held it until
pitting on the 182nd lap with a lap on the field as the crowd cheered
the underdog.

His pit stop left him in a three-way battle with Jarrett and Petty
with Jarrett holding the lead until the 209th lap. Again, Allison
surged to the front and built up a two-lap lead until he had to pit on
the 354th lap.

A stripped lug nut cost him his big lead and Allison came back into
the action a lap down to Johnson and Lorenzen. With the little power
plant stingy with gas, he made up the distance and was running third
when Johnson's Ford lost its rear end on the 453rd lap.

That left it up to Lorenzen and Allison and they were set for a wild
finish when Allison's engine let go just six laps from the finish and
he coasted to the pits to receive a standing ovation.

But for the race he led a total of 218 laps, more than Lorenzen with
172, Johnson with 83 and Jarrett with 27. And he proved he could run
with the big boys, even in outclassed equipment.

Sometimes, even when you lose, you win. The run had attracted the eyes
of the factory brass and great times were ahead.

Martinsville Speedway will celebrate its 50th anniversary with the
Hanes 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race on Sunday, September 28.

By Martinsville Public Relations