Donnie Allison

May 6 in NASCAR: Harry Gant gets controversial aid from teammate for Talladega win

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Darrell Waltrip objected.

Dale Earnhardt’s team objected to Waltrip.

Every one of the top-three finishers in the May 6, 1991 Winston 500 at Talladega thought they should be declared the winner.

When the dust settled, Harry Gant would remain the victor of the controversial race.

The events leading to the objections began when Gant pitted on Lap 132 of 188. He would attempt to go the rest of way on a tank of gas. Earnhardt made his pit stop on Lap 168 and teamed with Waltrip for a two-car draft. Meanwhile, Gant ran with his teammate, Rick Mast, who was a lap down in 10th.

Gant’s team had been warned Mast couldn’t push him across the finish line to take the checkered flag. It appeared Mast pushed or drafted closely to Gant as they raced into Turn 3 on the final lap. Mast was again on Gant’s bumper as they neared the tri-oval.

Mast pulled to the left before the finish line to show he wasn’t pushing Gant.

“The motor cut off and I was out of gas,” Gant said according to “Forty Years of Stock Car Racing: Forty Plus Four.” “Rick gave me a good boot when my car cut off in Turn 3. He gave me another good push and I was able to make it to the finish line.”

The protests quickly began.

“You can’t push the lead car in on the last lap,” Waltrip declared according to “Forty Plus Four.” “If they don’t take the win away from him I’m going to be mad. That’s plainly spelled out in the rule book. It’s not a judgement call.”

The objections from Earnhardt’s camp, via team owner Richard Childress, were about Waltrip’s rear spoiler.

“Waltrip’s spoiler was less than the 30 degrees allowed, we ought to get the win,” Childress said according “Forty Plus Four.”

It took three hours for NASCAR uphold Gant’s win, ruling his No. 33 car was “tapped” by Mast’s car and “not assisted.”

As for Waltrip’s spoiler, official Dick Beaty said it wasn’t checked until after cars had gone to the garage.

“Anybody could have adjusted that spoiler in the garage area,” he said according to “Forty Plus Four.” “We’ll do things differently in Daytona.”

Also on this date:

1961: After a fender-banging battle, Fred Lorenzen passed Curtis Turner with two laps to go and won by six car lengths at Darlington. “If I could have caught him before he got to the checkered flag, I guarantee you he never would have finished the race,” Turner said afterward according to “Forty Years of Stock Car Racing: The Superspeedway Boom.”

1962: Joe Weatherly won at Hickory (N.C) Speedway in a 200-lap race plagued by track conditions so poor that Ned Jarrett made one lap and withdrew from the event, according to “Forty Years of Stock Car Racing: The Superspeedway Boom.” Weatherly survived the last 50 laps with a jammed accelerator. To navigate the turns, Weatherly would turn the car off before re-engaging the ignition on the straightaways.

1973: In a race that began with 60 cars and saw a 21-car crash on Lap 9, David Pearson survived to beat Donnie Allison by one lap.

1984: In a race that saw 75 lead changes among 13 drivers, Cale Yarborough passed Harry Gant on the last lap to win at Talladega.

2000: Dale Earnhardt Jr. passed his father for the lead with 31 laps to go and went on to win at Richmond over Terry Labonte. Dale Jr. was the first repeat winner of the season after earning his first Cup win in April at Texas.

 

May 2 in NASCAR: Junior Johnson win angers ‘Yankee’ Dick Hutcherson

Dick Hutcherson
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It had been 100 years and a couple of weeks since the American Civil War had ended, but Dick Hutcherson was made so mad by the end of the May 2, 1965 race at Bristol Motor Speedway, he felt the need to invoke it.

“I may be a damn Yankee, but I’ll always believe I won this race. No one will ever convince me I didn’t,” Hutcherson said according to “Forty Years of Stock Car Racing: Big Bucks and Boycotts.”

“I think Robert E. Lee’s grandson was scoring the race,” he added.

They were strong remarks for Hutcherson, who was a native of Iowa.

The cause of his anger was that Junior Johnson, a native of North Carolina, had been declared the winner of the 500-lap race on the half-mile track. Hutcherson was scored as finishing second.

Johnson had gone a lap-and-a-half down when he lost a tire 265 laps into the race. Then he needed relief from Fred Lorenzen for 147 laps. After returning to the race, Johnson spent 117 laps making up time and then took the lead with 62 laps to go.

Hutcherson believed he had a one-lap lead before Johnson’s final driver change and a two-lap lead afterward.

“At the finish, Johnson was just barely back in the lead lap,” Hutcherson said.

After going over the scoring cards with NASCAR’s chief scorer, Joe Epton, Hutcherson’s co-owner, Ralph Moody, was content with the results.

Also on this date:

1954: Herb Thomas won a Grand National race at Langhorne (Pa.) Speedway by one lap for his fifth win in the first 10 races of the season. The top five was swept by drivers in Hudson Hornets.

1971: After Buddy Baker passed Donnie Allison 11 laps from the finish and Allison’s engine expired a lap later, Baker went on to claim the win at Darlington by seven laps over Dick Brooks. According to “Forty Years of Stock Car Racing: Big Bucks and Boycotts,” the race was the final one for the pairing of David Pearson and the Holman-Moody team. They split over a dispute about how much appearance money Pearson would receive for the May 16 race at Talladega.

1982: With drafting help from Terry Labonte, Darrell Waltrip passed Benny Parsons on the last lap to win the Winston 500 at Talladega.

1993: In a two-lap shootout following a red flag for rain at Talladega, Ernie Irvan went from fourth to first to claim the win. As the field approached the checkered flag, contact from Dale Earnhardt sent Rusty Wallace into a violent tumble that gave him a broken wrist, a concussion and a chipped tooth.

Where Are They Now? Hut Stricklin still part of Alabama Gang

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Hut Stricklin is probably the most unlikely gang member you’ll ever meet.

But for more than two decades he ran with one of the most infamous gangs around.

It was a small crew but it was a wrecking crew nonetheless, wreaking damage and havoc from the short tracks of Alabama to the high banks of Daytona and all points in-between.

The Alabama Gang was one of the most feared collections of racing gangsters there was. Their home crib was Hueytown, Alabama and from there few could stop them from plundering checkered flags and prize money.

The original three members of the Alabama Gang (L-R) Donnie Allison, Bobby Allison, and Red Farmer, sit inside a jail cell to raise money during a charity fundraiser on October 12, 2010. Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR.

Gang members were brothers Bobby and Donnie Allison, Red Farmer, Jimmy Means, Bobby’s sons Davey and Clifford, Neil and son David Bonnett, and Stricklin, who married Donnie’s daughter, Pam (some also consider former Busch Series champ Steve Grissom as a member of the Gang).

“I was honored that I was from Alabama and to be involved with all those guys because Bobby and Donnie (Allison) and Red Farmer, they were all my childhood heroes and I got to race against all of them,” Stricklin told NBC Sports. “Then Neil Bonnett came along and I got to race against him and then Davey and I raced against each other.

“They were definitely a special group of people on and off the race track. They’d do anything to help you, regardless of what it took and I would do the same thing for them. It was a pretty cool group.”

After a successful short track career and winning the NASCAR Dash Series championship in 1986, Waymond Lane “Hut” Stricklin moved to Cup part-time in 1987. He was runner-up for Rookie of the Year in  1989 and would go on to make a total of 328 starts. While he never earned a win in NASCAR’s premier series, he had eight top-five and 29 top-10 finishes.

The 58-year-old Stricklin, whose best season was 1991 when he finished 16th driving for Bobby Allison, hung up his fire suit for good after the 2002 season.

But he’s still involved in the sport as a warehouse manager for Stock Car Steel &  Aluminum in Mooresville, North Carolina, a company whose products are used by many NASCAR teams.

“I enjoy my job and work for a great owner, Greg Fornelli, a longtime friend of mine who even sponsored a car I raced one time,” Stricklin said. “I like it because it keeps me in touch with all the race teams.

“I sometimes have to go out and fix things. A lot of the race team members know me and will say, ‘Hey man, come on in over here and look what we’re working on. Man, this is pretty cool.’

“When I was in the middle of the sport (as a driver), everything was closed doors and tight lips and they wouldn’t let you in to do that. It’s pretty cool to do that now and I see some pretty neat stuff long before it comes out.

“But I keep everything I see a secret. The racers trust me and that’s a big part of the whole sport.”

Stricklin has been with Stock Car Steel & Aluminum for the last four-plus years after owning an automobile salvage yard for more than a decade in Cleveland, North Carolina.

“I owned it for 10 years, 4 months and 3 days,” Stricklin chuckled. “A guy came in one day and asked if I’d be interested in selling. I named my price and about two months later, he took it.”

Stricklin then added with a laugh, “I guess he needed it more than I did.”

Stricklin retired from racing at the age of 41. He planned on taking 2-3 years off to get the business started, but had every intention of getting back on the race track eventually.

Hut Stricklin shares a joke with Kyle Petty during qualifying June 14, 2002 at Michigan. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images.

Unfortunately, that never materialized.

“At age 46, I came down with a rare blood clotting disorder,” Stricklin said. “I have to live on high doses of (blood thinning medicine) for the rest of my life so there was no way I could ever take a chance of coming back, getting in a race car, going against all the doctor’s wishes.

“Every one of them told me if I ever took a lick or trauma to the head, I could bleed to death internally. When all that happened, I pretty much decided then I was done. I didn’t want to. I had aspirations to maybe drive in the Truck Series, like a lot of older drivers did. But I had to put my priorities first, had to take care of my family and do something that wasn’t as dangerous.”

Stricklin had a number of highlights in his career, but two in particular stand out.

“The first was when I finished second at Michigan to Davey Allison,” Stricklin said of the June 23, 1991 race. “We led (27 laps) of the race that day, battled Davey for the lead back and forth all day. The race on the track was definitely memorable but more so than anything for me was the flight home.

“I flew up there with Davey in his plane and flew back and also that weekend, in the ARCA race, two guys from Alabama (Dave Mader III and Roy Payne, a Texas native living in Alabama at the time) had finished 1-2 in the race the day before – and then two guys from Alabama finished 1-2 in the Cup race the next day.

“That was personal bragging rights. We got to talking about it on the plane and how the guys from Alabama went north and kicked ass. It was a pretty cool moment to live in that time with him and talk about that.”

Another memorable moment for Stricklin also involved the other runner-up finish of his Cup career, the 1996 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

“I was driving the Circuit City car for the Stavola Brothers,” Stricklin said. “We had a brand new car that we rolled out that first day of practice, it had never been on a racetrack. I never have done this, never ever in my whole career, but I rolled out on pit road and went on the track, I keyed up my radio and told the crew chief and the race team, I said, ‘Boys, this car is going to be good.’

Hut Stricklin at Sonoma Raceway on June 21, 2002. Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images.

“My crew chief came back and said, ‘How do you know that right now?’ I said, ‘All I can tell you is it has a feel in the steering wheel that it’s just going to be good.’ We qualified 10th and about 100 miles into the race we took over and should have won the race.

“We dominated, led the most laps (143) and then some young kid named Jeff Gordon came out of nowhere with (16) laps to go and passed me.

“Leaving there after running that good, even finishing second, it was still a good day for us. It was disappointing to say the least, but still one of the highlights as I look back on my career because it’s such a challenging place and some place where all the drivers want to win on because it’s such a challenging place. We didn’t win, but we had a good run.”

Stricklin was and remains popular among NASCAR fans to this day.

“Oh man, yeah,” he replied when asked if fans still recognize or reach out to him. “I have a lot of people coming here at Stock Car Steel all the time that somewhat recognize me. They’ll tell some of the sales people or someone up front and say, ‘You know, there’s a guy back there that looks just like Hut Stricklin. I wonder if anyone has ever told him that?’ (he said with a laugh).”

Stricklin drove for a number of team owners in his career, including Rod Osterlund (for whom Dale Earnhardt won his first of seven Cup championships in 1980), Bobby Allison, Junie Donlavey, Junior Johnson, Larry Hedrick, Travis Carter, Kenny Bernstein, the Stavola Brothers, Buz McCall, Scott Barbour and finished his career in 2002 with Bill Davis.

The late Davey Allison was Hut Stricklin’s best friend. Photo by ISC Archives/CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images.

While tough competitors on the race track, Davey Allison was Stricklin’s best friend off it. It was Allison, who was killed in a helicopter crash while attempting to land at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993, who introduced Stricklin to his cousin, Pam Allison.

The couple has been married for 34 years, have two adult children Tabitha and Taylor (who is a Super Late Model racer), and still live in the same house in Mount Ulla, North Carolina.

Donnie Allison is Stricklin’s father-in-law but also holds a high place in Stricklin’s racing memories.

“I was very fortunate to race against a lot of people, but by far one of the toughest I ever had to race against was Donnie,” Stricklin said. “I never raced with him in Cup, but I raced with him in short track stuff.

“When he showed up to race, you knew you had to be right to beat him. He wasn’t one that would go wreck you and do all sorts of things, but you knew you had to be right when he showed up or you weren’t going to win the race.

“As far as Cup stuff, you have to go with the obvious, you have to go with Dale Earnhardt, he was the toughest in Cup stuff. But Donnie was the baddest dude I raced against on any short track stuff when I was coming up, that’s for sure.”

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Kyle Petty Charity Ride announces 2020 route

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For the first time in its history, the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America will begin and end in the same city.

The route for the 26th annual ride was revealed Tuesday. It will begin May 2 in Phoenix and end there on May 8. The route will travel across Arizona and Utah.

NASCAR on NBC analyst Kyle Petty will be joined by 200 participants, including 25 new riders, on the 1,500-mile journey. Among the trip’s highlights will be lapping the track at Phoenix Raceway, riding historic Route 66, visiting Grand Canyon National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park.

The ride raises funds and awareness for Victory Junction, a camp dedicated to providing life-changing camping experiences for children with chronic and serious medical illnesses. Last year’s Ride raised $1.7 million and sent 128 children to Victory Junction. The Ride has raised more than $19 million in the past 25 years.

The Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America is sponsored by Cox Automotive.

“A core tenet of the Cox values is to be a force for good in the world through a culture of giving back,” said Janet Barnard, chief people officer, Cox Automotive, in a statement. “The Ride’s support of Victory Junction has long been in alignment with these values that both Manheim, as a past presenting sponsor, and Cox Automotive share. We are proud to be affiliated with other great organizations and companies who provide life-changing support to children.”

Here is this year’s route:

May 2 — Phoenix to Lake Havasu City, Arizona

May 3 — Lake Havasu City, Arizona to Flagstaff, Arizona

May 4 — Flagstaff, Arizona to Bryce Canyon City, Utah

May 5 — Free Day

May 6 — Bryce Canyon City, Utah to Monument Valley, Utah

May 7 — Monument Valley, Utah to Sedona, Arizona

May 8 — Sedona, Arizona to Phoenix Arizona

Among the celebrities scheduled to participate are: NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty, NASCAR legends Harry Gant, Hershel McGriff and Donnie Allison, former NASCAR driver David Ragan, former racer Max Papis, former NFL great Herschel Walker and NASCAR on NBC’s Krista Voda and Rutledge Wood.

“In the past, I haven’t been able to participate for the full duration of the Ride. But when Kyle first told me about this year’s route, I said I was going to clear my schedule to be there for the whole thing because I wanted to see all of the places on the list,” said Kyle’s father, Richard Petty in a statement. “My wife Lynda and I spent a lot of time in the Southwest and it was a special place for us. I’m excited to see some of those places again and share them with Kyle.”

Keep up with Petty and the Ride on social media at the following accounts:

When the ‘Alabama Gang’ took on the Indy 500

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BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Times have changed in these parts. In a state known for college football and NASCAR, it’s college basketball and IndyCar racing that will be the main attraction this weekend in this state that takes pride in its Southern culture.

Nearly 50 years ago, it was much different.

There were stock car tracks all over the state of Alabama and the most famous of all stock car racers were known as “The Alabama Gang.”

It consisted of Red Farmer, a local stock car hero who continued to race well into his 80s. He’s still a legend at the disputed age of 91. Nobody knows for sure, how old Farmer is, but the International Motorsports Hall of Fame lists his birth year as 1928.

But it was Bobby Allison and his younger brother Donnie (pictured above), along with Hueytown, Alabama neighbor and NASCAR protégé Neil Bonnett that made “The Alabama Gang” something to fear.

When these drivers weren’t winning the Daytona 500 or the Southern 500 or the Talladega 500 or any of the other big-time races on the NASCAR schedule in the 1960s, ‘70s and ’80s, they were racing Late Model stock cars at Birmingham International Raceway and other tracks in the South and around the United States.

So as the NTT IndyCar Series takes over Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham for the 10th Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, let’s look back to when “The Alabama Gang” took on the Indianapolis 500.

To read the rest of Bruce Martin’s story, go to MotorSportsTalk