Born: September 17, 1934
Home: Greenville, SC
301 Rockmont Rd,
Greenville, SC 29615
Timeline: Johnny Allen
was stationed in the service in Corpus Christie, Texas in
the mid 50's. He worked in a machine shop and was a fan of the local
Corpus Christie track, where his first race car was a Kaiser. Ankrum
"Spook" Crawford was one of the shop customers and Allen got to knowing
him well enough that he began to help Crawford build a race car. It took
awhile and by the time they were done, Spook, who was in his 50's then,
asked the youthful Allen is he wanted to race the car. The mold was set
as "Spook" really got Johnny stared in racing.
1955: Only one race, race #40, at the
Memphis-Arkansas Lehi Speedway, for owner Spook Crawford in a Plymouth.
He qualified 31st and ran 169 laps of 200 to finish 17th and won a
whopping $195.00. $100. of that was for being the top finishing car of
that make (Plymouth), so he actually won a $95. dollar purse.
1956: 32 of 56 races were run, with 2
top 5's and 11 top 10's and finished a respectable 12th in points as a
rookie. His best finishes of the year were two 5th place finishes at
Norfolk and Montgomery. Money, logistics and their day time jobs kept
them from racing every race for points. You really had to plan your race
schedule in those days with what resources you had. Earnings for year
were $ 4,558,
an average of about $143. per race to be split between the car owner,
driver, expenses and car upkeep and repairs. Johnny raced 4,888 laps
that year, so he earned less than a dollar a lap. An impressive
statistic showing his consistency, his average start was 20th and his
average finish was 15th.
1957: '57 started off with large
groups of factory backed teams, and few independents. Chevy hired Buck
Baker, Speedy Thompson, Jack Smith, Rex White, and Frankie Schneider
among others. Ford hired Fireball Roberts, Curtis Turner, Joe
Weatherly, Bill Amick, Marvin Panch, and Ralph Moody. Pontiac had Cotton
Owens and Banjo Matthews, while Mercury had Billy Myers and Jim Paschel.
Lee Petty (the points champ) and Ralph Earnhardt teamed up to drive
Oldsmobiles and were "semi-independent." Along with Kiekhaefer's team,
most of the Chrysler vehicles disappeared from the Grand National
circuit in 1957. Johnny Allen in a
Plymouth was the only driver to pilot a Chrysler vehicle regularly that
year, and his season was not particularly spectacular. He never saw
victory lane at all that season. Lee Petty had switched to Oldsmobile
for the season. (Incidentally, on June 15, 1957, "Fireball" Roberts
drove his #22 Ford to victory in a 200 lap race in Newport, Tennessee.
Johnny Allen finished that race running 20 laps down in 11th
For Mopars, the 1958 season was pretty much a repeat of the 1957 season
with Johnny Allen again running the only regular Chrysler
Fearless or Faithful?
Johnny Allen faithfully raced the Plymouths of Ankrum "Spook"
Crawford who got him started in racing and accepted the challenge of
upholding the Chrysler banner race after race. NASCAR stock car racing
really depended upon the factory support and the design of the cars to
go fast. You had to find the right handling car for both asphalt and
pavement, the right gear, find durability for race after race torture
and be able to withstand the fender banging, and actually have just
enough horsepower not to "spin-off" the horsepower and torque. Of course
transmissions also had to be durable. so a lot of thought went into the
car choice. Often it was the "new car of the week" choice that would go
fastest. Chrysler was not one of those. Allen didn't mind though as he
was gaining seat time and track by track experience. By the second year
though, it was frustrating to keep finishing deep in the field and he
began to experiment with gearing and such. Unfortunately that brought
less engine dependability and money began to get tight and so did the
relationship with Allen and Crawford. They parted as friends and
journeyman Allen started driving for different owners, primarily Jack
Smith's NASCAR career shows 21 victories, one in '62 of which would be
due to the friendship developed with Allen in the '58 series. Jack Smith
was running for points and wanted to have 2 cars. He finished 5th both
1958 and '59.Smith was voted Most Popular Driver in 1958, so Allen was
in good company. Jack was a rough and tumble country boy who was highly
superstitious. No green cars or women in the pits around Jack. That may
have made it hard for him to compete today, but Jack Smith was a hell
bent for leather chauffeur who didn't like to relinquish the lead.
Just a handful of NASCAR races, including a stellar 3rd place in the
first Daytona Firecracker 250 driving the Smith Radiator # 22 W. J.
Ridgeway Chevrolet. Allen started 11th in the 37 car field and completed
199 of 200 laps to finish 3rd and win his biggest paycheck to that date
of $1,925. for his efforts. Yes, he raced the number 22 at Daytona
before Fireball, as Roberts won this 1st Firecracker in a #3 Smokey
Yunick Pontiac (long before Earnhardt's 3 won). Joe Weatherly finished
second in a Ford (a T-Bird no less!) and Jack Smith 4th in a Chevy.
Later, Allen would venture into USAC racing for the rest of the year.
"Regrets, I've Had A Few, But Really Just One"
Summer 1959, and Johnny Allen just finished 3rd in the 1959 Daytona
Firecracker 250. He had gained great name recognition and certainly would be
in line for a good ride on the NASCAR circuit.
During Speedweeks in Daytona, the USAC midget circuit would also visit
Daytona for races at the old Municipal Stadium. Allen raced in a couple of
races for fun and was smitten by the pure fun and speed, and he wanted more.
The thrill of open wheel racing, perhaps even Indy, brought Allen to the
decision to go to the USAC circuit. Out of respect, Allen went to NASCAR to
let them know that he was going to race stock car and open wheel with USAC,
telling them before they read it in the paper. NASCAR questioned the move,
especially since he was coming off a successful Daytona third place finish,
and warned Allen that if he came back to race in NASCAR he would have to pay
a hefty fine for running in an "outlaw organization".
In his first USAC race at the Milwaukee Mile, Allen had an impressive second
place finish behind Norm Nelson, a USAC mainstay and star. He had
other successful runs in USAC, but never did get the thrill of running USAC
open wheel during the heyday of AJ Foyt and Mario Andretti.
Later the "could-a, would-a, should-a" haunted
Allen about what would have happened if had stayed in NASCAR in 1959 at the
prime of his racing career. He did return impressively to finish 5th in the
1960 a 500.
A two-part Darlington Rebel 300 was contested in the Spring of 1960. The
first 74 laps were run on May 7th, but rain forced it to be completed a
week later on May 14th. There was some bad luck this year, first when
Johnny Allen blew a tire, soared over a
guard rail and plowed into a scoring stand and part of it fell down into the
Rebel race. He walked away with a scratched nose. Later when Bobby Johns ran
into an unprotected pit area killing mechanics Paul McDuffie
and Charles Sweatlund as well as NASCAR official Joe Taylor. This was
also the year the first Unocal/Darlington Record Club dinner was held.
Membership was awarded to the fastest driver of each make of car that
qualified for the starting field, providing each was within 2% of the
top qualifying speed. Charter members were Elmo Langley, Bob Burdick,
Joe Caspolich, Marvin Panch, Richard Petty, Fireball Roberts and
1960 SOUTHERN 500 - Chaos
reigned in the 11th running of the Southern 500. Tires blew and the cars
danced everywhere. Tragedy also moved its huge hand - first car owner
Ankrum "Spook" Crawford was seriously injured when a car crashed in the
exposed pit lane. Crawford was Johnny Allen's car owner the previous
"The Victory That Never Was"
Allen crossed the finish line first in the inaugural Bristol
Motor Speedway race, but he was driving in relief of Jack Smith,
who gets credit for Bristol’s first victory.
First a little history. Work began on what was
then called Bristol International Speedway in 1960 and it took
approximately one year to finish. Carrier, Moore and Pope scratched many
ideas for the track on envelopes and brown paper bags.
Purchase of the land on which BMS now
sits, as well as construction of the track, cost approximately $600,000.
The entire layout for BMS covered 100 acres and provided parking for
more than 12,000 cars. The track itself was a perfect half-mile,
measuring 60 feet wide on the straightaways, 75 feet wide in the turns
and the turns were banked at 22 degrees.
Seating capacity for the very first
NASCAR race at BMS – held on July 30, 1961 – was 18,000. Prior to this
race the speedway hosted weekly races.
The first driver on the track for
practice on July 27, 1961 was Tiny Lund in his Pontiac. The
second driver out was David Pearson. Fred Lorenzen won the pole
for the first race at BMS with a speed of 79.225 mph.
Atlanta’s Jack Smith "won" the
inaugural event – the Volunteer 500 – at BMS on July 30, 1961. However,
Smith wasn’t in the driver’s seat of the # 46 Pontiac when the race
ended. Smith drove the first 290 laps then had to have
Johnny Allen, also of Atlanta, take
over as his relief driver.
Smith, who had to seek treatment for feet burned by
heat coming through the floorboard of his Pontiac, pitted with a
three-lap lead. Journeyman driver Johnny Allen, who dropped out on lap
106 due to a broken axle, was pressed into service as a substitute.
Together, Smith and Allen led 243 laps.
Smith and Allen split $3,025 in prize money for winning the 500-lapper.
Allen vividly remembers shadowing Smith in
Victory Lane and to the pay-off booth, just to have money for gas to get
home. The total purse for the race was $16,625.
Country music star Brenda Lee, who was 17 at the time,
sang the national anthem for the first race at BMS.
A total of 42 cars started the first race at BMS but
only 19 finished.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- With two laps to go in the second annual 1960
Daytona 500, Bobby Johns had everything in hand except the trophy
and the nearly $20,000 first-place check.
That was, until a freak gust of wind shattered the rear window on
Johns' 1960 Pontiac, sending his car spinning backwards down the
backstretch where it narrowly missed splashing into Lake Lloyd.
By the time Johns regained his composure -- and control of his car --
Junior Johnson had motored by, leaving Johns a frustrated
runner-up. The Petty family -- Lee and Richard -- claimed third
and fourth, the only other cars on the lead lap at the finish.
(Ed. addition) Frustration was certainly on his mind as fifth place
finisher, Johnny Allen, came in for a
late pit stop and put Allen a lap down.
Allen and Johns weren't the only drivers in a bad mood. Fast
qualifier Fireball Roberts led the first 19 laps but retired with
mechanical problems one-quarter of the way into the race, finishing 57th
out of 68 starters. Pole-sitter Cotton Owens, another pre-race
favorite, ended up 40th. Jack Smith, who started second, led 14
laps before damaged lugnuts put an early end to his day.
The wind played havoc with the field, causing 14 spinouts and
crashes, the most serious being Tommy Herbert's wild ride down
the backstretch. Herbert's car flipped several times in the air as Lee
Petty drove underneath it and Johnson swerved to avoid it. Herbert was
hospitalized with a broken arm and eye injuries.
Tiger Tom Pistone, who led 26 laps, spun into an infield fence
on the last lap, hitting hard enough to fracture his nose.
David Pearson made his Daytona 500 debut, finishing 28th.
|Results of the
1960 Daytona 500:
1. Junior Johnson
2. Bobby Johns
3. Richard Petty
4. Lee Petty
6. Ned Jarrett
7. Curtis Turner
8. Fred Lorenzen
9. Rex white
10. Emanuel Zervakis
The Beginning of the 1961 season found Tom Pistone racing a
new Pontiac under the banner of the Go-Go-Go
Pistone and Bill France, Sr. were instrumental in helping
Lynn and B. G. Holloway form a potent three car team that
featured General Motors cars. Ned Jarrett, and
Johnny Allen. Jarrett, drove the
team's no. 11 Chevrolet
to the 1961 Grand National Championship.
1961 Darlington Rebel 300:
Another close one. Jack Smith didn't like running Darlington because
of two bad crashes, so he had Johnny Allen
drive his number 69 Chevrolet for him Allen ran at the front
of the pack most of the day , dueling with the like of Fireball,
Turner, Lorenzen and even Ralph Earnhardt. Frustration certainly set
in when Allen, who was leading
late in the race came in for a pit stop. The jack blew a
cylinder and put Allen a lap down.
"Even If I Didn't Win, I Was
Gonna Be Spectacular!"
||Myers Brothers 200
||'62 Hansord Pontiac
1962: On June 16th, true to his spectacular statement, Johnny
Allen flew over the wall after crashing at Bowman-Gray Stadium. This
took place just seconds after beating Rex White to the checkered flag.
October 14, 2006
was born September 17, 1934 in Greenville, South Carolina.
Allen served in the military in the mid 1950’s and was
stationed in Corpus Christie, Texas. Allen worked in a
machine shop and was a fan of the local Corpus Christie dirt
track. Ankrum "Spook" Crawford was one of the shop customers
and Allen began to help Crawford build a race car. By the
time the car was complete, Crawford was in his 50's. He
asked the youthful Allen if he wanted to race the car and
Allen’s racing career was launched. Allen made his debut in
the NASCAR Grand National Division in 1955 driving
Crawford’s No.64 Plymouth at the 1.5-mile dirt
Memphis-Arkansas Speedway near LeHi, Arkansas. Allen
Racer Profile: Johnny Allen
By Allen Madding
Insider Racing News
In 1956, Allen and Crawford made 32 of
the year’s 56 events. A 5th place finish at Norfolk Speedway
and at Chisholm Speedway, Montgomery, Alabama were the
highlights of the year as Allen logged 2 top-5s and 11
top-10s. In 1957, the duo made 42 starts. Allen qualified on
the pole at Myrtle Beach and finished 3rd and Langhorne. For
1957, he recorded 4 top-5s and 17 top-10s.
In 1958, Allen made 18 events driving
Crawford’s No.64 Plymouth. He drove Bob Walden’s No.52 Ford
at Hickory, Monroe Shook’s No.31 Chevrolet at Raleigh, and
Jack Smith’s No.471 Chevrolet at Rochester and his No.147
Pontiac at Bridgehampton. Allen scored a 3rd at Charlotte at
the old Southern State Fairgrounds track and a 5th at Old
Dominion Speedway, Manassas, Virginia. He logged 2 top-5s
and 6 top-10s for the year. Allen made a mere 5 starts in
1959 finishing 3rd in W. J. Ridgeway’s No.22 Smith Radiator
Chevrolet in the Firecracker 250 at Daytona. In his first
USAC race at the Milwaukee Mile in 1959, Allen had an
impressive second place finish.
Allen drove Hanley Dawson’s No.69
Chevrolet in NASCAR Grand National competition in 1960 in 10
events finishing 2nd in the Atlanta 500. During the
Darlington Rebel 300, Allen Blew a front tire and soared
over the outside guardrail, plowing into a scoring stand and
part of it fell down onto the track surface. Fortunately,
Allen walked away with only a scratched nose. During the
Southern 500, Allen’s former car owner Spook Crawford was
injured when a car crashed in the exposed pit lane. Allen
served as relief driver for Jack Smith at the inaugural
event at Bristol Motor Speedway and won the event for him.
Allen competed in 22 events in 1961
qualifying on the pole in Birmingham and finishing 3rd at
Darlington and Nashville. He recorded 3 top-5s and 11
top-10s for the season. For 1962, Allen entered 20 events
driving for B. G. Holloway, Monroe Shook, and Fred Lovette.
Driving Lovette’s No.58 Pontiac, Allen won the Myers
Brothers 200 at Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North
Carolina battling Rex White to the finish line and then
crashing and flying over the outside wall at the finish. He
qualified on the pole for the Nashville 500. Allen amassed 1
pole, 1 win, 5 top-5s and 8 top-10s.
Allen reduced his involvement in the
NASCAR Grand National Division in 1963 to 8 events driving
for Lou Sidoit, Parker Snead, and Ratus Walters. He recorded
1 top-10 and 7 DNF’s. In 1964, Allen trimmed back to 4
events driving for Ray Osborne and Bill Stroppe recording a
9th place finish at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Florida.
In 1965, Allen drove Sam Fletcher’s No.14 Plymouth in the
Daytona 500 finishing 23rd. In 1966, Allen drove Reid Shaw’s
No.0 Ford in the Daytona 500 and in the Southeastern 500 at
Bristol. In 1967, Allen drove Harold Mays’ No.02 and No.03
Chevrolet at Charlotte and Rockingham suffering mechanical
failures in both events.
After 1967, Johnny Allen retired from
active NASCAR racing, but continued racing Late Models into
the mid 80's. In 1971, he won the track championship at
Greenville-Pickens. Allen started a very successful wheel
and tire business, specializing in racing.
Discuss this and other racing
matters in the Prodigys@Speed Forum
1/64th Diecast Collectors Car - 1963 Ford
"The Wall of Fame" Greensville-Pickens
the names of the track champions on the backstretch wall never crossed
Pete or Tom Blackwell's minds until the mid 1970's.
According to Tom Blackwell, a car owner jokingly came
up to them (Pete and Tom) and said that they should put the track
champions on the backstretch wall. Pete and Tom took the advice and the
"Wall of Fame" was started. Little did that car owner realize the tradition and
history that started as a joke is now the envy of many drivers in the
country. Some other drivers on the "Wall of Fame!" Ralph
Earnhardt, Butch Lindley, Roberts Pressley and David Pearson.
"The Running Numbers" The numbers
raced by Johnny Allen
0 02 03 2 5 6
7 8 9 14 15 16
17 22 31 46 52
58 60 64 66
69 72 85 92 147 264
Won with # 58 (Also with # 46 for Jack
After 1967, Johnny Allen retired from active NASCAR racing, but continued
racing Late Models into the mid 80's. He started a very successful wheel and
tire business, specializing in racing.
As of this writing, NASCAR has witnessed about 164 winners at the top level
of Strictly Stock, Grand National, Winston Cup, and Nextel Cup. There are 53
drivers of those that have won only one race. Besides Johnny Allen,
some of the other outstanding names are Wendell Scott, Greg Sacks, Mario
Andretti, Johnny Benson, Brett Bodine, Ron Bouchard, Dick Brooks, Larry
Franks, Bobby Hillin, Jr., Jerry Nadeau, Phil Parsons, Bill Rexford, Lennie
Pond, Jody Ridley and Lake Speed.
Twenty-five others had 2 wins and another 11 had 3 wins. Allen easily could
of had 2-3 more victories in the "could-a, would-a, should-a" world of auto
Copyright © 2003
by Roland Via. All rights reserved. Revised:
06/08/12 08:11:12 -0400.
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