Monday, April 30, 2012

Why I Love NASCAR: Talladega Superspeedway by Chief 187™

Last spring it was Jimmie Johnson racing teammate Jeff Gordon for the checkers.
Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR
Whereas I’m showing week in and out that every NASCAR venue has much to love, it is the track spotlighted this week that is the perfect destination to immerse oneself in NASCAR culture.

As a very young woman I found NASCAR and quickly realized that the best party on the circuit was at Talladega Superspeedway.

Stories of hedonism, all night parties that lasted three to four days long, drinking in the morning, and wild antics for the entire weekend nearly eclipsed the actual racing that went on… nearly.

But Talladega is more than a party. It is a track with a long and storied history in NASCAR.

In his quest for a track that was longer and faster than Daytona International Speedway, Bill France Sr. took to the roads to find his ideal. In May of 1968 he was delighted to be breaking ground at an old airfield in Alabama. Slightly over a year later Alabama International Motor Speedway (AIMS) opened on September 13, 1969 just outside of Lincoln, Alabama. Eventually AIMS was renamed Talladega Superspeedway.

That first race was a logistical nightmare for France as tires were being eaten terribly and all of the original regular racers of the time refused to drive there. France, refusing to be left in the lurch, hired substitute drivers. Among those was a little known racer named Richard Childress.

Talladega hosts two NASCAR Sprint Cup races each season, one in the spring and one in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

In recent years some of NASCAR’s Cup drivers have earned their first win at the track. Brian Vickers won in 2006 for the UAW Ford 500. Brad Keselowski posted his first victory at Talladega in the 2009 Aaron’s 499.

I always tend to think of the Allison family when I picture Talladega. They were, after all, the basis of the “Alabama Gang” so Talladega was their “hometown” track. They posted several collective victories. Donnie Allison won twice and his brother Bobby took home the victory four times. Bobby’s son Davey Allison won three times. “Alabama Gang” member Neil Bonnett also won once.

But this was Dale Earnhardt’s track. He still holds the records for most wins (10), most top 5s (23) and most top 10s (27). He also still holds the record for most laps led (1377). As a forever Dale Earnhardt fan I will always equate Talladega Superspeedway with “The Intimidator”.

In more recent years Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon have been repeat winners multiple times. Junior has five victories while Gordon has six.

The depth of competition is so vast now that it’s anybody’s race to win. Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, and Brad Keselowski all have a strong shot at winning as do many more like Martin Truex Jr. who has been extremely impressive this season.

More than anything I’d like to experience Talladega Superspeedway with my own eyes. I’m not a young woman anymore, but I’m still just as curious and willing to indulge in some serious NASCAR partying Alabama-style!

Maybe one day soon.

Until then, I’m just so dang thrilled that Talladega Superspeedway is on NASCAR’s circuit as it is yet another reason why I love NASCAR.



Chief 187™ is a writer, columnist, and blogger as well as creator of the widely popular Chief 187™ Chatter. Her column “Why I Love NASCAR” and other articles are featured on Skirts and Scuffs. She can be reached via Twitter by following @Chief187s. To find out more please visit http://Chief187.com.





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