NASCAR champion Tony Stewart Wednesday became the latest driver to unveil a paint scheme for NASCAR’s Throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway Labor Day weekend. Stewart used the NASCAR Hall of Fame as a backdrop to reveal the paint scheme that will honor Hall of Famer Bobby Allison.
Allison back to back Southern 500s at Darlington in 1971 and 1972 from the pole each year. In those two races, Allison led 558 of the 734 laps run. He led the field for all but 38 laps in the 1971 Southern 500 and led a race-high 229 laps in the 1972 Southern 500. The victories were the first of five Cup series wins Allison scored at Darlington.
The legendary driver retired from driving in 1988, and retired from NASCAR after owning his own team in 1996. Allison was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2011.
The Throwback weekend at Darlington began in 2015 after NASCAR moved the track’s Cup race back to its traditional Labor Day weekend date. It is part of a five-year campaign that features car paint schemes from the 1970s.
Stewart’s paint scheme features the same red-and-gold Coca-Cola livery Allison ran during the 1971-1972 seasons.
“I’ve been a member of the Coca-Cola Racing Family for my entire NASCAR career and been a part of some pretty cool and unique promotions, but this one is definitely my favorite,” said Stewart, who will retire following the season finale Nov. 20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. “The throwback weekend Darlington has created makes it the perfect place to run a scheme that has a ton of history with Bobby Allison and Coca-Cola.”
Coca-Cola, is a long time NASCAR sponsor, and has been a part of Stewart’s NASCAR career since his rookie season in 1999. The three-time NASCAR Cup series champion has 49 career victories. Allison is the 1983 NASCAR Cup series champion with 85 career victories.
“Those red-and-gold Coca-Cola cars were very good to me,” said Allison. “From 1970 through 1975, Coca-Cola was on my car and we won a lot of races. We won 11 races in ‘71, the most I ever had in a single season, and then we came back to win 10 more in ‘72. And that first win at Darlington – it was such a tough track and such a long race – it meant so much.
“Tony Stewart is a real racer who would’ve fit right in during the time I raced in NASCAR,” Allison added. He’s a perfect fit for this Coca-Cola Chevy. I know what car I’ll be watching in the Southern 500.”
Darlington is one of only two Cup tracks where Stewart is winless in the Cup series. In 23 career Cup series starts at the Darlington, Stewart’s best finish is third, that coming twice, in the 2009 and 2012 Southern 500s.
“Races at Darlington have been pretty tough for me,” Stewart said. “We’ve had some decent runs there, but it just seems like you really have to put everything together the whole day. If you can say you won a race at Darlington – that’s a feather in your cap because you conquered something that’s very hard to obtain. That’s something to be proud of, knowing that you’re in a group of drivers with names like Allison and Pearson and Petty – the pioneers of our sport.”