The town of Talladega, Alabama is located in the center of the state, bordering the city of Birmingham. The one-of-a-kind auto racing track is located in the very center of town, and is known for its unique décor and tradition of motorsport.
With a bit more than 100 miles of paved roads, the town of Talladega is certainly a hub for automotive culture. The track is surrounded by historic brick buildings with neon signs, vintage cars, and horse-drawn carriages. The Alabama Shakespeare Festival takes place here, too, and the streets are decorated with posters, magazine cut-outs, and other memorabilia from the golden era of American motorsport culture.
The grandstands are so close to the track that it feels like you’re inside an IndyCar with giant glass walls. Those who can’t get enough motorsport action can always head to the track’s paddock area to get a closer look at the stars of the sport.
The Most Iconic Building
One of the town’s most iconic buildings is the Alabama Theatre. The opulent theater opened in 1920 and is named after the state’s native son, playwright and poet William Lindsay Gage. The building was designed in the Spanish Renaissance style, with exterior brick terraces, copper roofs, and a concrete statue of William Lindsay Gage. The statue was sculpted in Italy and transported to Alabama by wagon.
The theater is currently owned by the City of Talladega and operated as a cinema under the historic WALK signal. It is the home of the Alabama Shakes, a Grammy-nominated American band.
The Alabama International Speedway
Just a few miles from the theater lies Alabama International Speedway, which also played an integral part in the town’s development. The 3.54-mile banked oval opened in 1964 and is one of the most prestigious auto racing tracks in America. The track features a unique hybrid design that incorporates the natural terrain into the banking. The overall effect is a true sight to behold, and something not to miss if you’re a motorsport fan.
In addition to stock car racing, the speedway hosts the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series. It is commonly referred to as a “must-see” for any motorsport fan.
The Talladega Speedway Museum
Even if you don’t go to the track, it’s worth a visit to the town’s historical museum, the Talladega Speedway Museum. It occupies the former home of early twentieth century motorcyclist and team owner Louis Meyer. The three-story brick building was constructed in 1909 and is the only structure remaining from that time period. After serving as a residence and garage for Louis Meyer, the building was acquired by the city and opened as a museum in 1970.
The museum is the headquarters of the National Museum of American History, and is a great place to learn about the history of early 20th century motorsport. Don’t miss the chance to see over 40 antique cars that date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s, along with several other priceless pieces of automotive history.
The Barber Motoring Museum
Another beautiful building in the town is the Barber Motoring Museum, which houses the Barber Vintage Motorsport Collection. The museum is dedicated to the art of motorsport, and its founder, Robert Hockaday, was a pioneer in the field. The museum opened in 1984 and is one of the largest private collections of vintage automobiles in the world. The highlight of the museum is easily the Barbershop collection, which includes the largest private group of vintage American cars in existence. It is estimated that the collection numbers over 150 vehicles, including 24 Barbershop vehicles, all of which are currently running and driving. The collection is so big that it has its own parking lot. Most of the cars are parked in a two-story, L-shaped building that was constructed in the early 20th century. Several of the cars are currently on display outdoors, and the rest are kept in climate-controlled interior spaces.
The museum offers an impressive view of the entire collection, and a chance to get a closer look at the most iconic vehicles from the golden era of American racing. You’ll have the chance to walk through a time machine, reliving the golden age of motorsport and the story of the men and women who worked tirelessly to make it happen.
Besides the above attractions, the city of Talladega is filled with many other museums, art galleries, and other cultural attractions. Most of the above attractions are free, and it’s a great way to learn about American history, create memories, and have fun.
The Historic Train Depot hosts events throughout the year, including a car show and open-air markets, as well as tours around the country involving both vintage cars and railroads. The Depot also has a beautiful shop that features a variety of products, including train sets and toy cars. The Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and Museum is also located in the city and houses the State of Alabama’s collection of sports memorabilia. Finally, the Museum of African American Art is also located in the city and is the country’s largest museum devoted to the artistry of African Americans. It has a fantastic collection of work, and even houses an art gallery that features rotating exhibitions. There is plenty to do and see in Talladega, so be sure to add it to your bucket list!