Both Robbie Allison and Krista Allison Sheinfeld have felt the absence of their father, Davey, at different points in their lives. In each instance, their grandfather, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison, has helped fill the void.
Robbie was two weeks shy of his second birthday and Krista was 3 years old when their father was killed following a tragic helicopter crash in 1993. In the 25 years since, both have been close to their grandparents, with Bobby often at the center of important moments.
Krista said she realized her dad wasn’t there when daddy-daughter dances came around in her early teens. But his absence struck her anew on her wedding day.
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“My now husband and I were talking about, just the ceremony itself and most girls go down the aisle with their dad. And I had a moment where I was like, ‘Oh my goodness. I don’t have my dad to walk me down the aisle,’ ” Krista said. “But I had my grandpa walk me down the first half, I guess, in memory of my dad and then Ryan, my stepdad, walked me down the second half. So I have not missed out, that’s for sure. But I do have these moments where I have a realization of missing him.”
Robbie expressed similar sentiments about missing his father more as he has gotten older.
“You’re not grieving when you’re a child, because you don’t remember your dad, and so everything seems normal until you get older and you start to understand the loss,” he said.
For Robbie, reaching out purposefully for a visceral connection to his father wound up building a deeper relationship with his grandfather.
“I definitely think part of me pursuing racing was to achieve a little bit deeper of a relationship with my dad, and to be honest, I think a lot of it was just to see what it was like,” Robbie said.
Robbie got into racing late models, earning two wins at Anderson Motor Speedway in South Carolina.
“It gave me an opportunity to spend a lot of time with my granddad, who’s my best friend in the world,” Robbie said of his four years racing competitively. “My granddad always told me, he never really cared that much whether I pursued racing as a career or not, but he always wanted me to try it, just to see the hard work that goes into it, to see the long hours you put into it, and then get that gratification of building that car, understanding that car, and then racing it, and making improvements.”
That time gave him chances to learn more about Davey from Bobby.
“I’ve always learned a lot about him through my granddad,” Robbie said. “My granddad, he always has been very focused on wanting me to understand what kind of man my dad was, and that’s something that has been priceless for me.”