By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Prior to the start of on-track action at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Bank of America ROVAL 400, two NASCAR legends were honored up the road in Mooresville, N.C.
Davey Allison and Ricky Rudd were inducted into the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame, with in-ground plaques honoring the drivers in the city’s downtown.
On hand for the event was Don Miller, N.C. Auto Racing Hall of Fame board member, 2016 inductee, and key note speaker, as well as board members John Dodson, a former crew member for Rudd, and Bobby Allison, the 1998 inductee, who accepted the award for his son.
Dodson inducted Rudd while Davey’s cousin, Tommy Allison performed the honor for him. Allison’s former crew chief, Larry McReynolds, as well as other NC Auto Racing Hall of Fame inductees were in attendance.
Allison’s career was tragically cut short after a helicopter crash at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. In 191 starts, the 1987 Rookie of the Year earned a staggering 19 victories, including the 1992 Daytona 500. Allison also had 66 top-fives, 92 top-10’s, and 14 pole positions. He finished third in the championship in 1991 and 1992.
The personal favorite race for Allison was the 1988 Daytona 500. He finished second to his father, Bobby, becoming one of the only father-son duos to finish 1-2.
“What a great ending to an absolutely great afternoon anyway,” Bobby Allison said as he accepted the award for Davey. “Davey was a lot of people’s hero. He certainly was mine too. He came along pretty early when Judy and I got married. Pretty soon there was this little guy riding in the pickup truck with us. There weren’t car seats yet, but Judy made him one with a steering wheel on it.
“So, he’s over there, sitting in his little seat with his steering wheel. We’re going to some race, somewhere, at midnight or middle of the night. Judy’s laying on the door, asleep. He’s looking around, looked at me and his eyes got big, and he [made engine sounds]. Alright, that’s my boy. Lots and lots of great times with him. It’s so great to have him in this Walk of Fame in Mooresville. Thanks for Davey, and thanks for me.”
Rudd nicknamed ‘The Rooster,’ had a career in what is now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (then-Winston Cup Series), that spanned 33-years, including 788 consecutive starts, earning him the title of ‘Ironman’ until Jeff Gordon surpassed that record. However, his racing career started in go-karts and motocross.
Rudd finished 11th in his debut at Rockingham Speedway while driving for family-friend Bill Champion. His first of 23 victories came at Riverside International Speedway in 1983. The 1977 Rookie of the Year earned 194 top-fives, 374 top-10’s, and 29 pole positions in his career. His best finish in the championship was runner-up in 1991.
“When you’re living your life on the road, and you’re racing, you have no idea that you accumulated that many races under your belt, or the success or failure rates,” Rudd humbly said. “You don’t really keep track of that. It’s not about looking back, it’s about looking ahead. I’m just as proud as I can be to accept this award. Not just that, it’s just an award, but to see people that I’ve worked with out in the crowd, a lot of the racecar drivers, their wives and families that are here today.
“It’s just a tremendous honor to be able to accept this, Rudd continued. “I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I wasn’t short of confidence. I was just a cocky little kid that had success at the local level. I thought I was invincible until the first time I showed up in a stockcar. That was Rockingham, N.C., running against Bobby, David Pearson, and Richard Petty, all of the legends that I had read about.
“I remember the first time getting into that racecar. There was no practice or testing. The practice was at the event. That was my first welcome to driving a racecar. That confidence that this cocky little kid had was completely gone after one lap sitting in that racecar, seeing how hard, difficult these things were to drive. That’s when I had a dose of humility, and I knew if I was going to stick with this, it was going to be a very long, steep learning curve just to make the field.
“I had the chance to spend 30 years traveling with that circuit. What I have learned since I retired 10 years ago, is what I missed most are the people. The people that are out here, that work on these racecars, that are there every week to keep these things going. It’s a special breed of people that are involved in this sport. You’ll never find a harder working group of people.”
Rudd drove for many team owners including Champion, NASCAR Hall of Famers Bud Moore, Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Robert Yates, and the Wood Brothers, as well as Junie Donlavey and Kenny Bernstein. From the 1995-1999 seasons, he drove independently, scoring one of the biggest wins of his career, the 1997 Brickyard 400.
Allison and Rudd joined Dale Earnhardt, Sr., Bill France, Sr., Miller, Richard Petty, and Rusty Wallace among a host of other legends of motorsports. In 2018, both Allison and Rudd were nominated to potentially be in the 2019 Class for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Allison was named as a 2019 inductee in May.