As the name would suggest, Talladega Speedway is located in Talladega, Alabama, just outside of Tallapapa Springs. It is one of the most historic paved racing venues in North America, hosting some of the most legendary races in history.
Officially, the track is known as the Talladega Superspeedway, and it was originally built in 1969 by the Alabama Superspeedway organization. As the years went by, the track was bought and maintained by the city of Talladega, and it became the focal point of their annual Labor Day Picnic. These days, Talladega is owned by the NASCAR organization and is operated under its auspices.
History of the Track
The origin of the name Talladega is quite fascinating. In the 1800s, a small settlement called Talladega Springs existed in the area that is now the city of Talladega. It was originally a campground for pioneers who were traveling through the area, looking for fresh water. The campground soon consisted of small wooden houses, a church, a general store, and a post office. One of the main streets was named “Main Street” (present-day Air Park) in honor of the post office.
In the early 1900s, the railroad extended its tracks to the area, and passengers could now reach Talladega more easily from the nearby cities of Birmingham and Montgomery. The railroad gave the town its first major boost, and more businesses and houses began to pop up.
In the 1960s, the town of Talladega began to grow rapidly as people sought an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The surrounding countryside was becoming a popular place for families to settle down, and the town turned into a popular tourist destination. The need for larger and more luxurious houses became obvious, and these days, Talladega is a typical Southern city, full of charm and quaintness.
Grandstands & The Fan Fest Area
Talladega is most recognizable for its grandstands, which are unique not only because of their size but also because of the materials used to construct them. The seats are made of wood and metal, and each row is designated for a specific nationality. These days, the English, French, German, and American sections of the grandstands are mostly used for spectator purposes.
Besides, the trackside area of Talladega is also quite prominent, with lots of food trucks and vendors, as well as a stage for performances.
One of the main attractions at Talladega is without a doubt the trackside shops located on both sides of the track. These shops are open to the general public, and they offer a variety of merchandise, from souvenirs and clothing to food and drink.
On the left side of the track, you will find the famous Announcer’s Garage, which is where the drivers and crews change cars before and after the races. Besides, this is also where the drivers get their motor oil changed. Just beyond that is the Tire Shop, where drivers can find the best tires for their cars. Next, you will come to the Mobil Station, which provides fuel for the cars and coolers for the drivers.
On the other side of the track, the first shop you will encounter is the Ferris Wheel Restaurant, which offers a unique view of the whole track. Next, you will come to the Shoe Shop, which is where racers can get their shoes repaired or replaced. If you continue further down the track, you will reach the Bull Ring, which is where the cars are prepared for the races. Finally, the Prop Shop is the last stop before you reach the garages, where the engines and other mechanical pieces are overhauled and prepared for the next season.
Besides all these shops, there are also many others scattered around the track, including the Budweiser Brew House and the Lady Gayle’s Tea Room, where you can get a bite to eat or a cup of tea before and after the races, and the Barber Shop, where you can get your hair cut before and after the races. It is always a sight to see all these different cars and all these different people coming together to support one cause: racing.
Along the back straightaway, there are many more amenities in the form of skyboxes, which are essentially enclosed outdoor sections that provide fans with an unmatched view of the track. These skyboxes can be found on both sides of the track, and they are accessible through stairways that lead down from the stands.
To the right of the track, fans can find the Fire Station, where they can get cold drinks and snacks. There are also many places to purchase t-shirts and other souvenirs, as well as a large video screen that can be used for various purposes, such as showing cars being prepared for the races and other footage from previous events, as well as showing replays from previous races.
Just past the Fire Station is the Medical Center, which is located between the tracks and next to the Lady Gayle’s Tea Room. This is where fans can find paramedics who are available to help race fans, sponsors, drivers, and others who are in need of medical attention.
The Biggest "Fanastic" Event
Talladega is widely known for the “Fanastic” events that are held there, and many other venues and locations in the area host similar celebrations throughout the year, including the Alabama State Fair, the Talladega Little League, and even high school football games. It is an exciting time of the year in and around Talladega, with lots of families getting together and enjoying each other’s company while supporting their favorite cars and drivers.
The celebration at Talladega begins with the “Turkey Trot,” a Christmas-related event where teams and individual residents walk or run around the track. Later in the year, the pace car drives around the track before the start of the races, followed by the national anthems of all involved countries. After the national anthems, the drivers of all cars are driven down the back straightaway, where they will wave to the fans and celebrate with them as their cars pass.
Another iconic event at Talladega is the “Winston Cup”, an annual 3-day race that takes place in early December and ends on Christmas Eve. The “Winston Cup” began in 1950 and is named after the legendary Harry Winston (creator of the diamond) and his daughter, Betty (who also played a key role in the design and construction of the track).
Betty’s love for automobiles and her connection to the Winston dynasty made her the ideal person to preside over the inaugural “Winston Cup.” It was in 1939 that Winston came up with the idea of an annual 3-day classic for the first time, and it was his daughter who made it a reality, starting with a one-mile race in 1950. It was the first of its kind and attracted a large audience, which encouraged the organizers to add a second day and extend the event to three days.
The first two days are always devoted to practice and qualifying rounds. On the final evening, the teams and their drivers line up along the back straightaway in anticipation of the start of the race, which is usually at around 10 pm on Christmas Eve. The race itself is a 60-mile nighttime marathon that ends at around 12:30 in the morning on Christmas Day.
Since its inception, the “Winston Cup” has attracted more than 260,000 people to the track, and its three-day format has made it an institution. The annual “Turkey Trot” and the “Winston Cup” are the two biggest attractions at Talladega, which is why they were chosen to be the focus of this book’s coverage.
The NASCAR organization and the city of Talladega are synonymous with each other. The track was originally built by the Alabama Superspeedway team as a place to hold their annual Labor Day picnic, and it has since served as the focal point of their annual celebration, which is why it will always have a special place in the hearts of the people who live there and of the organization that represents them.