BRENTWOOD, Tenn. -- Liz Allison watched her 9-year-old son, Robbie, crash the first time out, and wondered if he'd still want to be a racer.
"He had a neck brace on, and his mouth was all smooshed up," she said of the aftermath. "He had tears streaming out of his eyes. He said, 'Mom, I'm scared.' Five minutes later, it was, 'Will you let me race again?"'
After the son of the late Davey Allison crashed while warming up for his first race earlier this month, his mother decided a go-slow approach might be best.
Then, she says, it will be his decision.
"I don't want my child thinking because his dad was Davey Allison and he thinks everybody wants him to drive a race car that that's why he wants to drive it," Liz said. "Robbie needs to do what he feels in his heart. As he grows older and learns the sport, if driving is still there for him, he can make that a reality."
Robbie's father, a Winston Cup star, died in 1993 in a helicopter crash at Talladega Superspeedway. That, and the family's tragic history on the track made her decision to let Robbie get behind the wheel of a car that much harder.
Clifford, Davey's younger brother, died in a crash in Michigan in 1992. Grandfather Bobby's career ended with a near-fatal crash in 1988 at Pocono International Raceway, and his brother, Donnie, was seriously injured at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
But Robbie, who was 1 1/2 when his father died, has grown up a racing fan.
Surrounded by all the memorabilia a boy could want, including his father's trophies, he is a Jeff Gordon fan -- "because I know him."
When he first went to his mother about racing two years ago, she put him off. Last summer, she finally gave in.
She found various leagues across the country. She talked with members of the Allison family and bought a junior car, which is a half-scale model of those used on the Winston Cup circuit with a top speed of about 50 mph.
"Some kids play baseball, some play basketball," she said. "My kid wants to drive race cars. I was trying to find something that was safe for him on his age level where this could be fun for him with all the safety measures."
Then came the crash April 6 at Twin Fountains Raceway Park in Shelbyville. Going into Turn 4, Robbie's car wound up on two wheels, collided with another car and came to rest on top of it.
The force of the wreck bent the axle on Robbie's car, and he had to be helped out by emergency personnel.
Robbie, who had been bragging to reporters earlier that racing was easy because you "just remember to turn left," was treated at a hospital for a sprained neck.
The crash now is a point of pride for Robbie. He brags about it to his third-grade classmates and says, "It was fun."
If Robbie finally decides that racing is what he wants, Liz will support him fully.
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