(Photo courtesy of Mary Hodge/NASCAR)
Legendary race car driver, Red Farmer, spent his youth listening to the song of eight cylinders singing in harmony near his parents home, within a stone’s throw of the old Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. That sound lured him into racing and many decades later, at age 77, it refuses to let go of him!
Just in the past couple of weeks Farmer was the hospital in Bessemer, AL suffering from double pneumonia. The story goes that Red has been fussing because the pneumonia has messed up his plans to race in the upcoming Ice Bowl at the Dirt Track at Talladega on January 10th.
For years Farmer refused to disclose his age. But now just laughs of the though of retiring from racing. Red Farmer is one of racing’s last true cowboys! He is a true racing legend and one of the original members of “The Alabama Gang”. The original members were brothers Bobby and Donnie Allison, and legendary Red Farmer. Later the trio was joined by Neil Bonnett, along with Bobby’s son and rising star of NASCAR, the late Davey Allison.
Back in the old days, Farmer would barnstorm throughout the South with the Allison brothers. The word was that when “The Alabama Gang” came to town, things really got lively!
Those old days are just a memory, as is the careers of both Bobby and Donnie Allison. Both of the Allison brothers careers were shortened by racing injuries. Young Davey Allison perished at Talladega Superspeedway in a helicopter accident with Red Farmer as a passenger. Neil Bonnett pulled a dazed and injured Farmer out of the crashed helicopter. Not long after the helicopter crash of Allison, Neil Bonnett died in a wreck at Daytona. Not all racing stories have a happy ending.
But in spite of all the scars, Red Farmer refused to quit racing. He is often seen wondering through the garage area chatting with the drivers and offering advice. On most Saturday nights Farmer can been seen flying low around some of the local dirt tracks in the South, battling drivers the age of his grandkids!
Unlike the drivers of today, Red Farmer didn’t get rich racing. Farmer, like the Allisons and rest of the “old guard”, slept in their haulers, ate balogna sandwiches, and hoped to win enough to cover the checks that they had written in order to go racing. Yet they kept going, doing what they loved to do, RACE.
Today Farmer races for the same reason he has always race for, FOR THE LOVE OF RACING! Men like Red Farmer made stock car racing. It might be nice of the kids that are getting extremely wealthy in NASCAR these days would take a minute and say thank you to the “cowboys” who made the sport what it is today.
A get well card from NASCAR and the drivers would be good, a get well card with a check enclosed in it would be much better!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!