Johnny Allen was born in Greenville, South Carolina. Allen served in the military in the mid 1950’s and was stationed in Corpus Christie, Texas. Allen worked in a machine shop and was a fan of the local Corpus Christie dirt track. Ankrum "Spook" Crawford was one of the shop customers and Allen began to help Crawford build a race car. By the time the car was complete, Crawford was in his 50's. He asked the youthful Allen if he wanted to race the car and Allen’s racing career was launched.
Allen made his debut in the NASCAR Grand National Division in 1955 driving Crawford’s No.64 Plymouth at the 1.5-mile dirt Memphis-Arkansas Speedway near LeHi, Arkansas. He qualified 31st and ran 169 laps of 200 to finish 17th and wining $195.00. $100 was for being the first Plymouth home, the rest was for his 17th place finish.
In 1956, Allen and Crawford made 32 of the year’s 56 events. A 5th place finish at Norfolk Speedway and at Chisholm Speedway, Montgomery, Alabama were the highlights of the year as Allen logged 2 top-5s and 11 top-10s. In 1957, the duo made 42 starts. Allen qualified on the pole at Myrtle Beach and finished 3rd and Langhorne. For 1957, he recorded 4 top-5s and 17 top-10s.
In 1958, Allen made 18 events driving Crawford’s No.64 Plymouth. He drove Bob Walden’s No.52 Ford at Hickory, Monroe Shook’s No.31 Chevrolet at Raleigh, and Jack Smith’s No.471 Chevrolet at Rochester and his No.147 Pontiac at Bridgehampton. Allen scored a 3rd at Charlotte at the old Southern State Fairgrounds track and a 5th at Old Dominion Speedway, Manassas, Virginia. He logged 2 top-5s and 6 top-10s for the year. Allen made a mere 5 starts in 1959 finishing 3rd in W. J. Ridgeway’s No.22 Smith Radiator Chevrolet in the Firecracker 250 at Daytona. In his first USAC race at the Milwaukee Mile in 1959, Allen had an impressive second place finish.
Allen drove Hanley Dawson’s No.69 Chevrolet in NASCAR Grand National competition in 1960 in 10 events finishing 2nd in the Atlanta 500. During the Darlington Rebel 300, Allen Blew a front tire and soared over the outside guardrail, plowing into a scoring stand and part of it fell down onto the track surface. Fortunately, Allen walked away with only a scratched nose. During the Southern 500, Allen’s former car owner Spook Crawford was injured when a car crashed in the exposed pit lane. Allen served as relief driver for Jack Smith at the inaugural event at Bristol Motor Speedway and won the event for him.
Allen competed in 22 events in 1961 qualifying on the pole in Birmingham and finishing 3rd at Darlington and Nashville. He recorded 3 top-5s and 11 top-10s for the season. For 1962, Allen entered 20 events driving for B. G. Holloway, Monroe Shook, and Fred Lovette. Driving Lovette’s No.58 Pontiac, Allen won the Myers Brothers 200 at Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina battling Rex White to the finish line and then crashing and flying over the outside wall at the finish. He qualified on the pole for the Nashville 500. Allen amassed 1 pole, 1 win, 5 top-5s and 8 top-10s.
Allen reduced his involvement in the NASCAR Grand National Division in 1963 to 8 events driving for Lou Sidoit, Parker Snead, and Ratus Walters. He recorded 1 top-10 and 7 DNF’s. In 1964, Allen trimmed back to 4 events driving for Ray Osborne and Bill Stroppe recording a 9th place finish at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Florida. In 1965, Allen drove Sam Fletcher’s No.14 Plymouth in the Daytona 500 finishing 23rd. In 1966, Allen drove Reid Shaw’s No.0 Ford in the Daytona 500 and in the Southeastern 500 at Bristol. In 1967, Allen drove Harold Mays’ No.02 and No.03 Chevrolet at Charlotte and Rockingham suffering mechanical failures in both events.
After 1967, Johnny Allen retired from active NASCAR racing, but continued racing Late Models into the mid 80's. In 1971, he won the track championship at Greenville-Pickens. Allen started a very successful wheel and tire business, specializing in racing.