Thursday, January 17, 2008


Bobby Allison & me. Yes, it was a fun day - a VERY fun day at work!

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I (along with my co-workers) was going to be afforded the opportunity to meet a NASCAR legend... and that legend happened to be the leader of the Alabama Gang, Bobby Allison!!!

Bobby talked about many things in the twenty minutes or so that he talked to us. He talked about winning his first race with a "$50 engine." Wow, how times have sure changed! Later, he went on to talk about the many different battles he had on the track and how thankful he is to have survived a near-fatal crash in 1988.

After he spoke to us, it was time to get pictures taken... after everyone was done, we were all free to stop by and visit with Bobby and take more pictures on our lunch hour, so that's exactly what I did! I had the opportunity to ask the legend several questions. He told me some of his favorite drivers included Jeff Gordon (I guess I made a good choice with the shirt!!!) and Jimmie Johnson, and that he attended about half of the NASCAR races last year. He still loves the sport dearly and is so thankful that can go on speaking tours like he's on currently...

Later, I got to share with him some of my favorite memories growing up and watching NASCAR with my Grandparents. I told him my two best memories were actually ones where there accidents - the 1976 Daytona 500 where Richard Petty and David Pearson (the only two drives with more career NASCAR victories than Bobby) crashed on the final lap. Petty could not get his car to restart, but Pearson could and he limped across the line in first. For some reason I thought it was the Firecracker 500 where the crash occured, but Bobby quickly corrected me. He's still sharp! The other memory actually did involve him - in the final lap of the 1979 Daytona 500, Cale Yarborough and his brother Donnie Allison crashed. A fight ensued between the two drivers, and then Bobby came to check on the fight and Bobby said the same words of Cale as he said nearly 29 years ago: "Cale kept hitting my fist repeatedly with his nose." I got a good laugh out of hearing that comment straight from the horse's mouth today!!!

Later, we talked about his 84th and final win, the 1988 Daytona 500. In the race, his late son Davey came in second. That night, he even won a fishing contest in the middle of the track... yes, it was definitely his day! 50 years old at the time of that win, he still is the oldest winner of the "Great American Race." Sadly, Bobby was involved in a near-fatal crash four months later that year in the Pocono 500. The crash put him in a coma and caused him to have a severe memory loss. To this day, he still doesn't remember the events of that day, and the time before is a little hazy. But you ask him about things that happened further back, and it's as clear as day. The medical condition is called retrograde amnesia. Being someone who actually did suffer from this same condition in 2004 (thankfully, just about everything eventually came back), I could relate very well to what happened to him. Maybe that's why I was so excited to see him today. It's rare that you meet someone, let alone someone famous, who has gone through a similar trial as you have and come through it stronger and better than ever!!! Bobby, you're an inspiration to me and to many others all over the world!


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