Coca-Cola 600 Pit Note # 17
Two Drivers Talk about Coca-Cola 600 Wins
Marvin Panch and Donnie Allison, former winners of the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, were in the Time Warner Cable Media Center this afternoon and talked about their victories.
Panch won in 1966, and Allison won in 1970 - Panch driving a Plymouth owned by Lee Petty, and Allison in the No. 27 Ford owned by Banjo Matthews. Both agreed that winning the 600 was important to their careers.
"The 600 was the premier race at the time," said Allison.
"Outside of Daytona, it was the race everyone wanted to win the most," said Panch, who now lives in Daytona Beach, Fla. "It was the most-talked-about race, except for, maybe, Darlington at that time."
Allison said he figured he could have won at least two more 600s, but various car problems kept him out of victory lane.
"There's no doubt that the 600 became a very big and important race overnight," said Panch. Panch said he didn't compete in many 600s, but remembers the first one "because the asphalt started coming apart before the race was over, tearing up race cars."
Allison said a couple of other race tracks had similar problems at about the same time.
"They raced on them too early, and they didn't know what they were doing because building race tracks was something new for everybody," said Allison. "Look at Daytona. It sat for almost a year before it was ever used, and they had no problem with it."
Allison's older brother, Bobby, won three 600s and Bobby's the grand marshal for tonight's 50th running of the Coca-Cola 600. They are the only brothers to ever win the 600.
"And more Allisons have won the 600 than any other family, too," said Donnie Allison.
The late Davey Allison, son of Bobby, also won a 600 in 1991.