Darlington Raceway announced today that newly-elected NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Donnie Allison will be the Grand Marshal for the annual NASCAR Cup Series Hauler Parade as part of the Crown Royal presents Darlington Labor Day Race Weekend.
“Donnie Allison is a legend in our sport, and we’re honored to have him be a part of this great tradition,” said Darlington Raceway President Kerry Tharp. “His toughness and tenacity define the Too Tough to Tame spirit that embodies this race track and those who dare to challenge it each year.”
A member of NASCAR’s famed “Alabama Gang” and an ambassador for the sport for more than 50 years, Allison never planned to be a race car driver. But when Donnie’s older brother, Bobby, made the claim that Donnie could never be a driver, well, Donnie set out to prove him – and anyone else – wrong.
Like Bobby, Donnie got his start racing modifieds and worked his way to the top level of stock car racing. After winning the 1967 Cup Series Rookie of the Year, Allison partnered with famed mechanic Banjo Matthews where he experienced his most success. In 1970, Allison won three races for Matthews, including the Coca-Cola 600. The following weekend he finished fourth in the Indianapolis 500, setting a record for best-combined finish in the two-race crossover that still stands today.
But Allison might be best-known for his role in NASCAR’s most famous moment – his 1979 Daytona 500 fight with Cale Yarborough. An intense battle for the win ended with both drivers wrecked, scuffling in the infield. It all happened on the first nationally televised NASCAR race and made headlines across America. The publicity was instrumental to the growth of NASCAR and remains one of the defining moments in the sport’s history.
“The fans have been so supportive through the years, and I can’t wait to see them all along the parade route,” said Allison. “Darlington Raceway holds a special place in my heart and the history of our sport. I’m proud to be associated with it.”
The parade is Friday, Sept. 1, with the route beginning at Florence-Darlington Technical College and ending at the Track Too Tough to Tame. Beginning at 4 p.m., fans are invited to the Florence-Darlington Technical College staging area, where they can take photos with their favorite haulers while enjoying live music and food from local vendors.
Allison will participate in a fan Q&A at 5 p.m., followed by an autograph session from 5:15-5:45 p.m. The haulers will depart Florence-Darlington Technical College at 6:00 p.m. and make their way to historic Darlington Raceway where they will load into the Cale Yarborough NASCAR Cup Series Garage.
Racing action begins at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2, with the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ Sport Clips Haircuts VFW Help a Hero 200. Then at 6 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 3, the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs begin in style with the Cook Out Southern 500, one of NASCAR’s crown jewel events.
NASCAR fans are encouraged to purchase their tickets via phone at 866-459-7223 or online at darlingtonraceway.com.
— Darlington Raceway —