It was announced on August 3 Tony Stewart would pilot a throwback honoring legendary racer Bobby Allison who was also known as “The Real Thing” during the race at Darlington Raceway on September 4 in Stewart’s final Southern 500.
Smoke’s car will carry the red-and-gold Coca-Cola paint scheme similar to the car Allison raced in his back to back victories in the 1971 and 72 Southern 500’s. The No. 14 Chevrolet will also carry “The Real Thing” on the car and will also have gold wheels as well as a displacement boast on the hood.
“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. “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.”
Allison had a powerful car which helped him to dominate the field from start-to-finish in both of the races at the track to Tough to Tame. He started both races from the pole position and led 558 laps out of the 734 laps ran. The back-to-back victories were the first of five wins Allison earned at the 1.366-mile oval.
“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. He’s a perfect fit for this Coca-Cola Chevy. I know what car I’ll be watching in the Southern 500.”
Stewart has won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship three different times and is one of a few drivers to have one a championship under three different sponsors (Winston, Nextel and Sprint). Smoke also has 49 victories under his belt. Stewart is a first ballot lock for the NASCAR Hall of Fame once he retires later this year. Meanwhile, Allison is the 1983 NASCAR Sprint (then called Winston) Cup Champion and has 85 victories in the series and he is also in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Darlington Raceway is one of only two race tracks that Stewart hasn’t won at in the top division of NASCAR. His best finish of third was achieved in both 2009 and 2012, in 23 starts.
“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.”
Coca- Cola has been a sponsor of Smokes since his rookie season in 1999 and has been a part of NASCAR is some form for more than 50 years.
“We are humbled by moments like today when two of NASCAR’s most respected drivers come together over an iconic car emblazoned with our brand,” Ben Reiling, director, sports marketing, Coca-Cola North America said. “Together, we commemorate Coca-Cola’s role within NASCAR and honor and celebrate Bobby Allison and Tony Stewart for what they stand for in the history of motorsports.”