Davey Allison, the 1992 Daytona 500 winner and a member of one of stock-car racing's most prominent families, died yesterday at Carraway Methodist Medical Center in Birmingham, Ala., of head injuries suffered in the crash of a helicopter. He was 32.
Allison was piloting the craft on Monday, only three weeks after having purchased it, when it went down at the Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. He underwent surgery to relieve pressure on his brain, but never regained consciousness. Dr. Evan Zieger, a neurosurgeon at the hospital, pronounced Allison dead at 7 a.m.
Red Farmer, also a driver and the only passenger aboard the helicopter, was listed in critical but stable condition, said David Smitherman, a hospital spokesman.
Roff Safer, an investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, said there was no indication of mechanical failure.
Allison, who lived in Hueytown, Ala., had flown to the track to watch a practice run by David Bonnett, the son of Neil Bonnett, another of the stock-car racers from Hueytown who formed the group that was known in the sport as the Alabama Gang.
The unofficial leader of that tightknit society was Allison's father, Bobby, who had to quit racing after an accident in June 1988 in Long Pond, Pa., that nearly took his life and still affects his memory and balance.
Last August, Davey Allison's brother, Clifford, was killed while practicing for a race at a track in Brooklyn, Mich.
On July 19 last year, Davey Allison broke an arm and ribs and suffered a concussion in a crash at the Pocono track, but the following weekend he was back on the track, wrestling with one of the 3,500-pound stock cars capable of 200-mph speeds.
L Allison won a total of $6,726,974 in his Winston Cup career.
Following his father and an uncle, Donnie, from track to track while growing up, Allison was immersed in the sport from an early age.
"Davey Allison grew up in this sport and, from a small child into adulthood, dedicated his life to it," Bill France Jr., president of NASCAR, said yesterday in a statement.
Besides his father and mother, Judy, Allison is survived by his wife, Liz; a 3-year-old daughter, Krista; a 23-month-old son, Robert Grey; and two sisters.
1993 NASCAR rank: Fifth.
Top Winston Cup seasons: Third, 1991 and 1992
Car: Ford Thunderbird owned by Robert Yates.
Winston Cup debut: Talladega, 1985.
First win: Winston 500, Talladega, 1987.
Career wins: 19 in 191 starts, including 1992 Daytona 500, three Winston 500s and 1991 Coca-Cola 600.
Career earnings: $6,726,974, 10th all-time.
Best year: 1992, tied career-high by winning five races and earned a career-best $1,955,628.
1993 wins: Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond.
Most recent finish: Third, July 11, Slick 50 300 in Loudon, N.H.
Rookie of the Year: 1987, won two races and became first rookie to sit on front row at Daytona 500 with lap over 209 mph.