Originally created 06/20/02

Racing veteran teaches class at Augusta State



In more than 40 years of racing, Donnie Allison has learned his way around the track. And though he isn't breaking the speed limit in his stock car anymore, he has plenty to say about it.

Mr. Allison, racing veteran and one-third of the "Alabama Gang," will be teaching a one-time class at Augusta State University on Tuesday. The class is part of the continuing education curriculum.

"Most people who watch television races don't really understand what the announcer is saying," Mr. Allison said."I would like to have them have a little better understanding about what it takes. The television portrays it as a glamourous sport, which it is. But it's also a very, very intense business and it takes intense people to do it."

Mr. Allison began racing at about 18 when a neighbor asked him to go to the race track.

"And I did not want to go," he said. "I liked to roller skate; I used to roller skate on every Wednesday and Saturday night."

But he did go. During the practice runs, Mr. Allison was less than enthused about the way his friend was driving.

"I said well, I can drive that thing better than that," he said. So he did.

"I got in that car and I went out there and was scared to death. I couldn't believe it," Mr. Allison said. "It was not only the speed of the car, which really wasn't much faster than a street car at the time, but it made noise and it didn't have any floorboards in it. It was all holes, and at that time safety wasn't even a thought. It had a piece of an old roll cage in it. If I'd turned over, I'd probably been killed. But I remember to this day, 40 years ago seems longer than that, but I couldn't believe it. I said 'This is something."'

The following week, Mr. Allison wrecked his brother's car.

"He told me I wouldn't ever be a race car driver and I thought well, I'll show him. And that's how I started," he said.

Mr. Allison has run hundreds of races throughout his career, winning anywhere from 450 to 600, he speculated. He's been called the greatest crossover driver between NASCAR and Indy Car racing.

"It's very, very addictive," he said. "A race car driver that is successful, really uses his brain all the time. Never do you stop thinking about that race car."

Mr. Allison will share other highlights and lessons from his career during the three-hour class. Admission is $29. To register for the class, call (706) 737-1636.

CAR CLASS

WHAT: Stock Car Racing 101 with Donnie Allison

WHEN: Tuesday, from 6 to 9 p.m.

WHERE: Augusta State University's Physical Education Athletic Complex, Wrightsboro Road

COST: $29

TO REGISTER: Call the Continuing Education Office at (706) 737-1636.

Reach Lisa M. Lohr at (706) 823-3332 or lisalohr@augustachronicle.com.