When Jeb Allen won the 1972 NHRA Summernationals in Englishtown New Jersey he became the sport’s youngest professional class winner at the age of 18. Unlike many of the sport’s top competitors Jeb didn’t have to fight mom and dad to become involved. In the early 1960s the family fielded a series of injected fuel dragsters. It was his mother, Betty Allen, who dragged him to his first drag race at eight years old and it was love at first sight.
In 1971, at the age of 16, Jeb went on tour with Steve Carbone and was totally hooked. While he wasn’t really excited at the thought of driving a front engine fuel dragster, he liked the look of the newly introduced rear engine configuration. Jim parted company with Carbone, flew home, and got licensed for top fuel in his dad’s front engine dragster. At that point, at 17 years old, Jeb was the youngest license top fuel driver in NHRA history. Thanks to a promise by his parents, as soon as, Jeb received his license a new rear engine car was built. In an auspicious debut he went to the semifinals of the 1971 Supernationals at the Ontario Motor Speedway.
After that the Allens hit the road in 1972. All the while Jeb remained a student at Bellflower High School. With the school assisting him to complete his schooling and still be able to race. The Summernationals win placed Jeb squarely into the spotlight. With a runner-up finish in Montréal Québec the teenage phenomenon quickly attracted sponsors like Revel and English Leather. The infusion a sponsor dollar allowed Allen to get new and better equipment.
Another interesting moment of his career came when he scored a memorable runner-up finish to Carl Olson at 1972’s “Last Drag Race at Lions”. Despite never winning a round he was reinserted multiple times under the old “break rule”. The second-place finish meant that he was the last driver to ever cross the finish line at Lions.
Things were going great for the team but suddenly their luck turned bad. At the AHRA Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1973 Jeb was paired with his good friend John Wiebe in the first round. John’s car went into severe tire shake and veered into Jeb’s car, destroying both cars, causing third-degree burns on both of Jeb’s hands. After that loss it took the Allen family three years to return to their winning ways.
In 1976 Jeb won the NHRA Northwest Nationals and was runner-up the Summernationals. In 1977 he again posted a runner-up finish at Englishtown and at the end of the year had won the AHRA World Championship. He followed up in 1978 and 1979 by winning the Summernationals back to back.
Jeb posted a win at the Gatornationals in 1980 and one the IHRA World Championship title. The 1981 season saw Jeb grab the NHRA top fuel class by the throat. He captured the NHRA World Championship title winning the NHRA Winternationals, Cajun Nationals, Mile High Nationals, plus the inaugural Golden Gate Nationals in Fremont, California. He became NHRA’s youngest World Champion at 27 years old. A record that stood until 2018 (37 years). He also set a new ET record at 5.52 seconds and became the seventh member to join the 250 MPH Club with the speed of 250.69 MPH.
At the end of the 1982 season Jeb knew he needed a break from the hectic pace and retired to build a new life for himself away from the track. Today Jeb owns Palomar Builders a very successful construction company in Redding, California. He and his wife Sue can boast of being the biggest homebuilder and largest residential land owners in the city.