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43 Years Before Bubba Wallace and Kyle Larson Got Into a Scuffle, Bobby Allison Stole the Show in an All-Out War

Published 01/22/2023, 4:55 AM EST

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Las Vegas Motor Speedway, incidentally, created a bad rep for itself in the last few years. It started with the Joey Logano and Kyle Busch fight in 2017 and the Kyle Larson and Bubba Wallace scuffle topped it in 2022. But none of these incidents stand up to the Daytona 500 of 1979 involving Bobby Allison.

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The 1979 Daytona 500 incident has long been considered a watershed moment for the sport. What makes that a surprising compliment to give is that the incident wasn’t something the sport would ideally have been proud of.


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Regardless of that, Donnie Allison called it “the best thing to happen to NASCAR” while Richard Petty said it was “the sport’s first big deal”. 

The stars had definitely aligned for NASCAR because it was the first live televised race. There had been multiple incidents of cars bumping into each other. It had also witnessed two crashes—both had the involvement of Donnie and Cale Yarborough.

After the second crash, Donnie and Yarborough got out of their cars and had a screaming match. Donnie said, “We both got out of our cars and had a few words. And they weren’t very pleasant,” as reported by the LA Times.

But that was barely the peak of the race. Donnie and Yarborough had only used their words and not their hands. Things came to a head later on.

Bobby Allison showed the way to Bubba Wallace

A concerned Bobby Allison had gone around the track and come back to see if his brother was okay. But he was greeted by Yarborough.


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Bobby Allison recalled, “I stopped at the scene of the wreck. And Cale comes over and starts yelling at me that the wreck was my fault. How could that be? I was half a lap away.”


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Things just went downhill from then on. Allison said, “He’s yelling things at me and he’s 10-12 feet from my car. I questioned his ancestry and he lunges at me and hits me in the face with his helmet. It cut my nose and lip and I look down and blood was dripping down. I thought I had to address this right now or run from Cale Yarborough the rest of my life.”

Yarborough wasn’t one to back down. “I was mad enough to fight and I did. The only thing I’ve regretted was not winning the race.” Petty won the race, who had benefited from both crashes and the fight.


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Watch This Story: Denny Hamlin Knows How to Laugh at Himself Amid Shocking Kurt Busch Revelation

It was possibly the first time NASCAR had seen such a violent battle between drivers. But it ended up benefiting the sport in a way, giving it the push it needed at the time.

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Written by:

Abhay Tyagi


One take at a time

Abhay Tyagi is a Formula 1 Author at EssentiallySports. Although he has completed his undergrad in Law and Management, he has always been eager to venture into the exciting field of sports journalism. With a special affinity for Engineering and Speed, Abhay has always found the world of Formula 1 quite exhilarating.
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Edited by:

Akash Pandhare