Recognized as one of Sprint Car racing’s original “outlaws,” Miami, Florida-born Bobby Allen (December 28, 1943) wanted to be a race-car driver since he was nine years old and with more than a little bit of talent and ability he became one of the sport’s most heralded racers.
Allen started racing Half-Midgets at age 12 and when he was 16 he won the World Go-Kart Championship in Nassau, The Bahamas. Shortly thereafter, he began working for 1960 Indianapolis 500 winner Jim Rathmann who was marketing the cutting-edge Xterminator Go-Karts and while doing so he raced Modifieds at the old Hialeah Speedway against such racers as fellow EMPA Hall of Fame members Bobby Allison, Alan “Rags” Carter and Gil Hearne.
After a couple of years in the Modifieds, 20-year-old Allen began racing winged Supermodifieds but when he heard about all of the racing and higher purses in the Northeast he made that move in 1966 and eventually settled in Hanover, Pennsylvania.
Now in a hot-bed of weekly racing, Allen and his cut-down No. 4-A three-window coupe raced on Central Pennsylvania’s so-called “Bug Circuit” at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg and Lincoln Speedway in New Oxford. He also ventured off with his ride to Maryland’s Dorsey and Hagerstown Speedways where the action was equally as intense.
In 1967, Allen drove Charlie Hill’s No. 456 Supermodified to his first track title at Lincoln and he added the 1969 & 1970 titles there, as well. But 1968 proved to be an important year for Allen as it was when he joined fellow EMPA Hall of Fame driver Lynn Paxton on L.H. “Shorty” Emrich’s high-profile Emrich Chevrolet Sprint Car Team.
It was Paxton, by the way, who gave Allen his “Scruffy” nickname due to his long, shaggy blond hair and the race-worn nature of his red, white and blue No. 1a. But that didn’t bother Allen as over the next five years he won 65 races and Susquehanna (Pa.) Speedway’s 1969 championship.
This kind of success helped Allen to realize he was actually better off as a professional racer running all over and winning as frequently as he was than to try and hook up with a United States Auto Club Sprint Car ride and maybe get a chance to run at Indianapolis. From that point on he followed such a path, plus he put his considerable mechanical skills to good use by building his own race cars and those for others, such as the Allen-built machine that EMPA Hall of Fame driver Jan Opperman drove when he was racing Dick Bogar’s famed No. 99.
Allen – who was credited throughout his racing years as someone who would share his chassis and setup knowledge with anyone who asked – won the 1975 Williams Grove National Open and he was the 1976 Sprint Car Champion at the old half-mile Reading (Pa.) Fairgrounds.
Reading was also where Allen gave the Modifieds a try – even while he was still racing his Sprint Cars – and did so in his self-built blue and white M & J Coal Co. No. 1a Chevrolet Vega-bodied entry. But when EMPA Hall of Famer Ted Johnson organized the World of Outlaws in 1978, Allen and his Jasper Petitte-sponsored M & J Coal Co. No. 1a joined that group and he began competing anywhere in the country where there was a high-paying Sprint Car race.
The 1980 All-Star Circuit of Champions titlist, Allen won: the 1982 & 1989 Tuscarora 50 at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway; the 1983 $25,000-to-win ASCC race at the Pennsboro (W. Va.) Speedway; the 1986 Jackson (Minn.) Speedway Nationals; the 1986 Eldora Speedway Nationals at Rossburg, Ohio; and, 1990’s 30th Annual Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway Nationals.
In all, Bobby Allen – who also fielded Sprint Car No. 2a for his Miami buddy Richard Lupo in the 1980s – won over 250 victories at 62 tracks in 20 states and Australia. Plus, he is credited with having had over 500 Top-5 finishes in Central Pa. competition, alone.