The Ole days
Petty & Allison Feud
Nobody seems certain when it began, but it lasted three or four years. The feud reached a boiling point on an October afternoon at North Wilkesboro (North Carolina) Speedway in 1972. Richard Petty and Bobby Allison used their race cars as weapons and beat on each other in the frenzied final three laps on the 0.625-mile track, an oval that on this day became stock car racing's Little Big Horn.
The two drivers were primed and ready for the fight all day. They chopped each other off and exchanged paint several times. Then, all hell broke loose on the final three laps.
Petty led on Lap 397 of the 400-lap event. Going into the first turn, Allison drove low to make the pass, but Petty shut him off, using another car to throw the block. Then, the two locked their machines together and crashed into the wall. Allison slipped by Petty and into the lead. Petty came right back, and the two cars went into the first turn side-by-side for the second time. Both slammed straight into the wall.
Allison talked about it in later years. "This time I cut right and held the steering wheel," he said. "I intended to drive him through the wall if necessary. I thought I had parked him. I broke loose and drove away. I was going through the second turn and starting up the backstretch. I heard this car to the inside of me, and it was Richard. I don't know to this day how he got off that wall."
Their cars hit again, and Petty slipped ahead to win by a couple of car lengths. Petty and Allison's cars, smoking from under the fenders and hoods, sputtered to the end like two warships trying to stay afloat with port in sight.
In those days there was no Victory Circle at North Wilkesboro. The winner simply stopped his car at the start-finish line to receive the trophy. Petty climbed from his battered race car and handed his helmet to brother Maurice, his chief engine builder.
About this time, a spectator came rushing up to get Richard's autograph. In his wild approach, Maurice thought it was an Allison fan trying to harm Richard. Maurice took Richard's helmet and slammed it over the spectator's head, knocking him down. Once Maurice realized he had decked a Petty fan, he helped the poor guy to his feet. Later, as most of the crowd was leaving the track, Maurice and the fan talked over "old times" at a concession stand. Maurice fed the guy hot dogs and soft drinks. Petty, meanwhile, met with the press. "This is carrying our differences too far," he said. "It must stop. He's playing with my life out there, and I don't like that."
Allison took a different approach. "Richard had to wreck me in order to win, and that's what he did. I had so much smoke in my car I could hardly see." Petty and Allison were like bulldogs on separate leashes. Each time they got close to one another, they growled, barked, and tried to bite.
Richard Petty and Bobby Allison wrecked each other everywhere they got a chance in their all-out war of 1967-1971. They still haven't forgotten and still don't miss an opportunity to snipe at each other.
Still at it Years after They Retired.
After both had retired, Petty was given a ticket by police for rear-ending
another motorist on Interstate 85 near Charlotte, N.C. Petty maintained the other
guy was left-laning, and that when Petty began tailgating, the other guy jammed on his brakes for spite and caused the collision.
As Petty and Allison walked past each other in the garage at the next race,
Allison couldn't resist:
"Hey, Richard, that guy on I-85 must have looked like me."
"Naw," Petty said. "He was just actin' like you."