The Scene Vault: Bobby Allison Remembers Talladega 1987

By Rick Houston

Bobby Allison’s terrifying wreck in the 1987 Winston 500 at Talladega forever changed the face of NASCAR.

Speeds had reached a dizzying pace in NASCAR. Bill Elliott captured the pole for the event with a blistering lap at 212.809 mph, the fastest qualifying lap in the sport’s history. Allison was just a shade slower at 211.797 mph, good enough for the outside of the front row. Very early on, on just the 22nd lap of the race, all Hell broke loose.

Allison’s engine blew, and when debris got under his rear wheels, it send Allison into a spin that saw him immediately go airborne. That was bad enough, but then Allison’s Buick got into the catch fencing as it approached the start-finish line. Incredibly, Allison walked away from the incident and there were no life-threatening injuries in the grandstands.

Davey Allison, Bobby’s son, went on to capture the first win of his Winston Cup career that day. And afterward, NASCAR mandated the use of speed-choking restrictor plates, a move that to this day remains one of its most hotly debated decisions ever. Yet … NASCAR was in a quandary. It HAD to do something.

This is Bobby Allison’s story.

For more than 32 years, Grand National/Winston Cup/NASCAR Scene writers and photographers were there to record NASCAR history as it was being made. Join hosts Rick Houston and Steve Waid each week on The Scene Vault Podcast Presented by Q Ware as they take a look back at the extraordinary people, places and events woven into the rich tapestry that is our sport.

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