Judy Allison went through more in life than any wife or mother should ever have to.
She buried two sons, almost buried her husband – NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison – after a near-fatal race crash and suffered through several illnesses of her own in recent years.
Through it all, Judy remained the stoic backbone of the legendary Allison family, enduring all the tragedy and heartache with a strength, grace and class that few likely could ever muster or comprehend.
Sadly, the former Judy Bjorkman passed away unexpectedly Friday afternoon from complications following surgery at Iredell Memorial Hospital in Statesville, North Carolina.
Judy A. Allison was 74 years old.
According to a statement issued by the family, at the time of her passing Mrs. Allison “was surrounded by her family, daughters Bonnie Farr and Carrie Hewitt, grandson Robbie Allison, brother-in-law Donnie Allison and his wife, Pat.”
One of the Allison’s closest friends, NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty, issued this statement:
NASCAR issued the following statement about Judy Allison’s passing:
“NASCAR extends its condolences to the friends and family of Judy Allison, the wife of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison. Judy, the matriarch of a cornerstone NASCAR family, provided the foundation for the careers of a legendary husband and two sons who both lost their lives entirely too soon. Her love extended well beyond her own family, as many in the NASCAR family leaned upon Judy for support and compassion during many difficult times.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of a true friend, and a woman who has given much to our sport.”
The NASCAR Hall of Fame also issued a statement on Judy Allison’s passing:
“On behalf of the NASCAR Hall of Fame team, I would like to offer our most sincere condolences to Bobby Allison, daughters Bonnie and Carrie, and the entire Allison family on the passing of Judy Allison. Judy was far more than the matriarch of the Allison family and the famed Alabama Gang, she was the foundation and rock on which their success, perseverance and hard work stood.
“Judy was the epitome of grace and steadfast support beside Bobby’s stellar career including the 1983 premier series championship and 84 premier series wins, and induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s second class in 2011. Judy exhibited the same grace, along with remarkable resilience and courage, in the face of Bobby’s near fatal and career ending accident in 1988 and later the loss of two sons less than 12 months apart.
“Judy Allison epitomizes everything good about faith, family and NASCAR. She will be deeply missed, but her memory, impact and incredible legacy will live with us forever.”
Tragedy struck the Allison clan several times over the years, yet Judy somehow managed to hold the grieving family together.
In 1988, husband Bobby — who turned 78 earlier this month — was nearly killed in a race crash at Pocono Raceway. He was not expected to make it through the night, yet Judy waited and prayed by his bedside and Bobby ultimately pulled through, even though the crash brought an abrupt end to his legendary racing career.
In 1992, younger son Clifford was killed in a crash while practicing for a Busch Series race at Michigan International Speedway.
Eleven months later, older son Davey was killed while attempting to land a helicopter outside Talladega Superspeedway.
Judy and Bobby wed in 1960 and were married 55 years.
Funeral arrangements and a memorial service are pending.
Russell Branham, media relations director for Talladega Superspeedway said of Mrs. Allison’s passing, “So sad … Breaks my heart. Such a strong person and so appreciative of things that we have dealt with them on. They – the Allisons – are a part of our Talladega family and our thoughts and prayers are with them all.”