TALLADEGA, Ala. (Oct. 5, 2007) - The original members of the Alabama Gang - Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison and Red Farmer - had a reunion at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday and looked back on "The Great American Race" as the historic 50th running of the Daytona 500 approaches on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2008.
With the gold 50th running of the Daytona 500 trophy resting in front of the stage inside the Ken Patterson Infield Media Center, the Allison brothers and Red Farmer talked about their competition days in NASCAR's biggest, richest and most prestigious race as well as their successful history at Talladega Superspeedway.
Bobby Allison is a three-time Daytona 500 champion with victories in 1978 with Bud Moore, 1982 with DiGard Racing and 1988 with the Stavola Bros. when he finished ahead of his son Davey in the race's only 1-2 father-son finish.
Red Farmer made eight Daytona 500 starts, including the second annual Daytona 500 in 1960, and posted a best finish of 30th in 1972.
Donnie Allison, Bobby's brother, had a career best third-place finish in 1969 but was also part of the unforgettable fight in the 1979 Daytona 500 with Bobby and Cale Yarborough.
In the first live televised broadcast of the Daytona 500, Yarborough and Donnie Allison were battling side-by-side for victory on the final lap of the Daytona 500. But neither Yarbrough nor Allison ever made it to the checkered flag.
The two drivers were beating and banging on each other all the way down the Superstretch and crashed entering Turn 3. While Richard Petty benefited from the crash with his sixth Daytona 500 win, one of the landmark moments in the history of NASCAR took place as Yarborough and Allison began a heated debate that turned into a fist fight with Allison's brother Bobby jumping into the fray.
During the news conference, Donnie Allison was asked if he would have done things differently in the 1979 finish.
"If I had to do it over, and I know what I know now, I would have done something different," Allison said. "But to be perfectly honest, it caught me by surprise. It caught everybody by surprise because how many times in the 50 years they run the Daytona 500 have you seen the leader and the second-place car crash coming off of Turn 2. Turn 4 yes. I expected something to happen down there."
"It does stick in my craw," Allison continued. "It's a hard pill to swallow. Cale and I are acquaintances. We talk a lot. He did what he thought he had to do and I did what I thought I had to do and he wrecked me and that's all there is to it."
All three Alabama Gang members also recalled their first Daytona starts.
Said Bobby Allison: "I went there in 1960 with kind of a homemade car out of South Florida to try to qualify for the Sportsman Modified deal. I qualified somewhere way on back. It was a pretty insignificant effort but I remember I was pretty awe with the race track."
NASCAR tickets for the DIRECTV Speedweeks 2008 events, including the 50th running of the Daytona 500, are still available by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or by visiting www.racetickets.com