The Hall of Fame isn’t “Win and you’re in”
Voting recently opened for fans to cast their ballots for which drivers they feel deserve to be enshrined into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The class of 2019 will join their peers next January but, in my opinion, there is one driver that shouldn’t be among them.
There is no question Allison was a skilled race car driver. I’m not here to sell anyone on the idea that he wasn’t good, but this is the Hall of Fame we’re talking about. I find it borderline ridiculous that everyone who racks up 15 or more Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins is suddenly part of the conversation for induction.
I’m well aware of the case supporting Allison joining his legendary father and others as members. He did win 19 Cup events. He captured the 1992 Daytona 500. Allison even had a shot to win the championship that year, entering the final race at the top of the standings. It’s true he likely would have done a lot more winning had he not lost his life in a tragic helicopter accident in July 1993.
The problem I have with all of that is that it isn’t enough to merit his career as worthy of the sport’s greatest post-driving honor.
First, 19 wins in six and a half years of full-time competition is decent, but it isn’t mind-boggling. Several other drivers have similar victory totals, but they aren’t mentioned as being potential Hall of Famers.
Then, there’s that near-championship.
Well, this isn’t the “Hall of Almost”. To be honest, Allison didn’t even have that many “almosts.” He finished third in points in ’91 and ’92. His next best championship result? Eighth. Hardly a regular contender if you ask me. Even in 1993 prior to his accident, he was fifth in the standings but had only eight top tens through the first 16 races.
What about the Daytona 500 trophy? Plenty of drivers have a replica of the Harley J. Earl in their trophy case. It doesn’t immediately cement a driver as a Hall of Fame contender. Would you cast your ballot for Ryan Newman, Ward Burton or Geoffrey Bodine? All have won the Great American Race. Additionally, Newman and Bodine have similar Cup win totals (18 each) to Allison.
Allison had the potential to be great. But it isn’t the “Hall of Potential.” If it were, surely Adam Petty would belong. Allison never got the chance to show the world how much he was capable of had the duration of his career been more comparable to other NASCAR legends. It simply wasn’t meant to be.
We absolutely can’t fault him for that. But at the same time, the vote shouldn’t be used under the premise of sympathy. I feel like too many people view it as if he got cheated out of a promising career so this is the least we can do. That isn’t why the building at 400 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd in Charlotte was erected nearly 10 years ago.
It is the Hall of Fame. The entrants should be measured by the quantity of their personal successes, the significance of those successes and their contributions to the sport as a whole.
For example, when I cast my ballot, it featured Alan Kulwicki. Kulwicki had only five career wins. He had no Daytona 500 victories. He won the 1992 championship that Allison came so close to claiming. So why Kulwicki and not Allison? Simple. The significance of the championship that Kulwicki won.
He was a lone wolf, the owner and driver of a single car team at a time where such a thing was already nearly extinct. Fancy shops with polished floors and multi-car teams owned by automotive industry gurus were already becoming the norm. Kulwicki won a Cup title the likes of which we will almost certainly never see again. Allison, on the other hand, was driving a car owned by one of those automotive industry gurus that would soon join the slew of multi-car teams.
Allison was a good driver. He was a proven winner. But his career simply doesn’t have the unique achievement, undeniable contribution, or sheer volume of success to warrant being voted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. He is worthy of our adulation and praise. He is worthy of a litany of racing-related accolades.
Just not this one. – Frank Velat
Few Were as Great as No. 28
It’s time for the blasphemous talk to stop because Davey Allison deserves to be in the Hall of Fame like his father before him.
Allison was an incredible driver and one of the toughest in NASCAR history. His 1992 season alone should earn him a spot in the HoF. That man went through horrific crash and nasty injury after horrific crash and nasty injury that season, but kept coming back and almost won the championship. He should have won that title if not for a fluke crash in the final race of the season.
Come on, are we really going to keep a guy out of the HOF simply because he didn’t win a title? He only had six opportunities to win one. You put Allison’s first six seasons up against Martin Truex Jr.’s and Allison would get voted into the Hall every single time, but I bet this recent championship gets Truex in.
Hall of Famer Mark Martin had 23 chances to win a championship and never could. Yes, he won 40 races, slightly more than double Allison’s 19, but Martin did so in more than four times as many starts.
A lot of people are saying that Buddy Baker and Harry Gant will be inducted into the Hall of Fame one day. Allison has one more career win than both of them. Can you imagine how many more wins Allison would have over them had he lived to 54 years old, much less driven until then?
Many expect Dale Earnhardt Jr. to make it into the Hall of Fame after he ended his career with 26 wins. Had Allison not passed away when he did, he would have topped that number in the next two seasons. After all, nobody had more wins from 1991-1992.
If we’re going purely off of wins and championships to qualify for the Hall of Fame, then let’s look even lower than Allison on that list. Curtis Turner is in the HoF with only 17 career wins and no titles. Cotton Owens won nine races and Wendell Scott only won once. Red Byron won the first ever NASCAR championship, but only two races. The drivers all respectively made it into the HoF for reasons other than the stat book, and that has set the precedent to which drivers are inducted.
And the same should go for Davey Allison because of the “what if?” factor. Had Allison not died young, then he likely would have gone on to compete for several races and championships, and Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon might have had their accomplishments stunted a little.
The other main reason that Allison belongs in the HoF is that he created memories to last a lifetime. Who can forget the fierce battle to the finish line in the 1992 Winston where Allison edged Kyle Petty before slamming into the wall and celebrating his victory in the hospital?
One of the most famous Daytona 500s was the 1988 edition that saw Bobby Allison win and Davey finish second. It made the younger Allison’s win of The Great American Race four years later that much more special.
Fans loved Allison; despite being the son of one of the greatest drivers ever, he came off as a down-to-earth, blue-collar guy. If the car needed work done to it, Allison wouldn’t be hiding in his hauler, but rather working on it with his crew. That’s why many were heartbroken when he died and why his legacy has given him a larger-than-life persona.
The quickest way to define whether or not someone is a racing legend is to analyze what driver you think of when you think of a certain number. When I think of No. 43, it’s Richard Petty, No. 3 is Dale Earnhardt and No. 21 is David Pearson. When I think of No. 28, I don’t think of Fred Lorenzen, A.J. Foyt, Bobby Allison, Ricky Rudd, Ernie Irvan or even Cale Yarborough. I associate those drivers with different numbers. The only driver I think of in the No. 28 is Davey Allison.
With that kind of legacy, Allison should, without a doubt, be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
About the author
The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.
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