Talladega Speedway is the place to be this coming October. For the first time in 15 years, the World Series of motorsport will be coming to a city most know for its dogs and its cotton. On the 23rd – 25th of October, Talladega will play host to some of the biggest names in motorsport, including Richard Petty, David Pearson, Juan Pablo Montoya, and the always-entertaining Bill Elliott. The most anticipated race of 2019 is just around the corner, which means it’s time to start preparing for your trip to Alabama!
The good news is, getting to Talladega Speedway is much easier than you’d think. While there are tons of ways to get there, the most direct route is by car. If you’re driving, you can pull off to the right just before exit 72 on I-20 to reach the the “World’s Most Famous Racing Mile”.
Here’s how you can get to Talladega by car:
The Most Direct Route
The most direct route to Talladega from the North is I-20/59 South to exit 72. From there, take a right onto US-11 West and then another right onto SR-29 North. After that, it’s just a matter of following the signs to the Speedway. You’ll want to stop at least once along the way to see the sights and take a break from driving. If you’re driving in the opposite direction, this is the route you should take as well. It’ll save you a ton of time and gas. Plus, it’ll give you a good idea of what to expect once you arrive at the finish line.
In order to make your trip as pleasant as possible, the best idea is to drive during the daytime. If you arrive at the track after the gates close, you’ll have to deal with long lines and possibly missing your event. Days are also best as nights can become very cold north of Birmingham at this time of year. The temperature at night can drop to single digits, so you may not feel too comfortable there. And last but not least, fog can be an issue as well. The fog will make it more difficult to spot vehicles as well as the officials trying to spot you.
The Most Popular Route
I-20/59 South is the most popular route to Talladega. The reason for this is that it’s the shortest distance between Chicago and Mobile. This is important because there are a lot of fans that want to make the trip for the race. Also, this route is much easier to follow than the one described above. If you’re coming from the North, take I-20 South toward Tuscaloosa. Once you turn off of I-20, it’s a matter of following the directions to the Speedway. You could also follow the signs to Alabama’s capital city, which is basically the same as getting to Talladega. There will be tons of fans around the city, so it will be easy to spot cars heading for the track. Remember, the track is on the edge of town, so it might be slightly harder to find a parking spot than it would be if you were in the suburbs.
There are lots of parking spaces near the track. While none of them are cheap, they aren’t overly expensive either. You can find cheaper options as well, but then you risk blocking an emergency vehicle or a fire truck. These are big decisions, and the last thing you want to do is block an emergency vehicle or fire truck. If you have a large vehicle, you may need to look for the nearest garage. Otherwise, you may have to find a place to park and walk. Luckily, there are spots everywhere around the track. You will not find any trouble finding a parking spot, but then again, neither will anyone else. This is important as people are trying to make the trip as early as possible. The earlier you arrive, the better your chances of getting a good parking spot. Some of the parking lots even provide snacks and drinks for spectators, so be sure to bring your own food and drink with you.
The main parking garage will be closed on the Friday before the race. This is when they are cleaning the lot and the surrounding areas. They want everything spotless for the big day. It would be a shame to miss the race because you couldn’t find a parking spot. Remember, the closer you park to the entrances, the better. This is so that you can move as much as you want during the event. If you park far from the entrances, you’ll have to walk a long way to get to your seat. People will be coming and going, so it will be difficult to find a parking spot that isn’t close to an entrance. You won’t want to park far from the exits either, so you can easily leave the parking garage after the event.
The Surfing Route
Those who want to avoid traffic and speed bumps should take I-20 West toward Birmingham. This will put you on the “backbone” of the country, which is made up of large oak trees. If you stay on this road, you will eventually end up at I-22. However, you will have to make a right onto SR-32 and then another right onto SR-26. After that, it’s just a matter of following the signs to the track. The traffic around Birmingham is pretty heavy, so this is the least desirable route. However, if you want to make the trip by car, this is the best option available. Plus, there aren’t many instances where a car wreck happens on this road. This could potentially save you from such accidents.
For those who want to be extra careful on their way to Talladega, there is a more direct route via I-22/59 South. This will take you to the outskirts of the city. Here, you will find a sign for the University of Alabama. Just past that sign is a small road leading to I-22 North. From there, take a right and follow the signs to the track. This will save you a ton of time and give you an idea of what to expect once you get there. If you’re coming from the North, this route is also valid. Just watch out for the speed traps though as they are quite common around here. This is especially the case in the area between SR-26 and the University of Alabama. You will want to get across SR-26 without being pulled over by a cop. It’s a bad idea to have a police officer question you about your destination while you’re driving. If they pull you over, it could turn out very bad for you. You will definitely want to avoid that at all costs. Fortunately, there aren’t many speed traps in the area, so you will have little to worry about. This is also the route used by the NASCAR drivers when they are coming to the track for qualifications or practice sessions. It’s a good idea to check out the route before you go, so you know what to expect.
The city of Talladega is quite large. In fact, it has over 100,000 residents. This being said, finding your way around the city can be a pain. Especially if you are driving to the track. You will want to avoid taking the streets as there are a lot of pedestrians and other cars driving around. Even the locals get confused sometimes and run into each other. This can cause traffic jams and even accidents. It’s best to use the GPS on your phone or the directions on the t-shirt. Otherwise, you will be cursing yourself for getting stuck in traffic. There are also some areas within the city that you should not enter under any circumstances. These are restricted parking lots and garage bays. They are there for a reason and you don’t want to break the rules. Some of the places you shouldn’t enter are:
- Pritchard Park
- Foster Park
- J.C. Wheeler Park
- Harding Park
- Magnolia Park
- Wedgewood Park
Where To Eat
You won’t have a lot of options for food once you arrive at the track. There are a few restaurants and eateries there, but they are mostly there for the locals. As a tourist, you will be restricted to what’s available at the concession stands. While this might not be bad, it’s not exactly what you’re looking for either. If you see someone eating a hot dog, you’ll want to run over and join them. The dogs are usually pretty cheap there and very good. Plus, you can’t miss the food trucks that serve various types of seafood and BBQ. You might even decide to have a picnic outside the track. After all, it’s a beautiful day and the location is perfect.