By Becky Jane Newbold
Diamond Gusset’s owner David Hall saw an opportunity. Strongly believing in American-made products and supporting local, it was a no-brainer to put his name on Willie Allen’s hood.
“I wasn’t a NASCAR fan before. I was a speed demon,” Hall admits with a grin. “Now I love it. The excitement at the track and the noise of the engines as close as anything to the wall. It’s breathtaking to me.”
Allen, born and raised in Hickman County, began making a name for himself on the NASCAR circuit early in the 2000s and now is more than happy to take the community along for the ride.
“Hickman County has tried different things: Word of mouth, internet, but we are still not really out in the world,” Tony Collins explained. As acting president of the Hickman County Industrial Board, Tony shared how his son, Todd, a Hickman County commissioner had the idea to merge the two.
A partnership with Willie Allen Racing “gives us an opportunity to advertise in the whole country.”
“Hickman County got on board with my racing. They are trying to get some business into Hickman County; grow both at the same time,” Willie told.
Willie Allen starting racing late in life, he says. “My mom really didn’t want me to race anything.” But an after school job working in a go-cart shop helped open the door to speed and by the time he was 15 years old, Willie had saved enough to get his own racing go-cart.
Winning three championships in go-carts ignited a fire in Willie, and he soon found himself racing super trucks at the Nashville Speedway. “I had a buzz going on. It got my name out there,” he mentioned of his wins.
When singer/songwriter Wendell Mobley and Willie became friends at the go-cart tracks, things began to change for Willie.
“After I won races in the late model series, I got a call from General Motors to tryout for their driver development program.
Finishing sixth in the truck series debut race “landed me a ride on the NASCAR Truck Team full time in 2007.” From there, Willie’s career took a strong upward drive as he was named Rookie of the Year.
But when someone with deep pockets bought his driver position with GM for their son, Willie went into a state of shock – racing shocks.
A business idea turned pro as Willie began building and testing racing shocks for Kyle Busch and Randy Moss. Willie Allen Racing aka W.A.R. Shocks began to make a name for themselves on the dirt tracks. “Searching for ways to improve our cars on the local level, we developed the W. A. R. line of shocks,” Willie shared. “We were killing the competition real bad. A friend starting winning using W.A.R. Shocks.”
With Talladega on the calendar for May, Willie’s focus is on the tracks. “In the three hour long race, the biggest thing is a car fast in the draft. Handling is not an issue, just pure speed; the most horsepower and the least amount of drag.”
“We have a team of mechanics but you can ask any driver and they will tell you their car is never good enough,” Willie added with a smile.
“The American dream is still alive in NASCAR,” sponsor David Hall of Diamond Gusset shared. “For us and for Hickman County, the goal is to bring jobs.”
“NASCAR fans need something; everybody roots for the underdog. We do not have a seven-digit budget, but we are helping the county, promoting a local star with a goal of bringing jobs,” he continued.
Larry’s Country Diner joined Diamond Gusset and Hickman County’s LandNoTax.com as sponsors of Willie Allen most recently.
“Willie is one of us,” Hall added. “It’s not just a money sport.”
“Willie Allen is our ambassador. He brings hope for Hickman County,” Tony Collins concluded.