Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Fast Track Facts: Talladega Superspeedway

credit: NASCAR Media
Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway is not only the fastest track in NASCAR, with a NASCAR-sanctioned track record of 212.809 mph set by Bill Elliott in the pre-restrictor plate days of 1987, but a track that has many stories to tell. These are some of the Fast Facts on this fast track.
  • Talladega Superspeedway, known as Alabama International Motor Speedway from 1968 to 1988, is located on what was once the Anniston Air Force Base just outside of Lincoln, Alabama. The 2.66-mile tri-oval is NASCAR’s longest oval track and has a listed seating capacity of 78,000; at its peak, the track’s seating capacity was 175,000.
  • Groundbreaking for the track took place on May 23, 1968, a project spearheaded by Bill France Sr., founder of NASCAR and Daytona International Speedway, who wanted a track that was faster than Daytona. The original drivers on the entry list for the first race in Sept. 1969 abandoned the track due to tire problems; France went and hired substitute drivers for the event, which was won by Richard Brickhouse.
  • Unusual occurrences over the years have led to rumors that the speedway grounds are cursed, jinxed or haunted. Legends bout the track include: it was built on Indian burial grounds; that the area was used by Indians for horse racing; and that their chief was killed there when he was thrown from his horse. There are eerie stories from drivers as well: NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Isaac heard voices while racing there in 1973 telling him to park his car and get out – he did just that, because earlier in the race, driver Larry Smith was killed in what seemed to be a minor accident; Isaac did not race again in 1973.
  • In the race for which Elliott set the NASCAR qualifying record, Bobby Allison’s airborne car took down a large portion of the frontstretch catchfence after cutting a tire on debris. The result: restrictor plate racing began in 1988. The close-quarters racing that came along with restrictor plates brought out another demon at Talladega, the multi-car accident most commonly known as “the big one.”
  • In July 1993, Talladega Superspeedway was the site of the helicopter crash that eventually took the life of driver Davey Allison, Bobby’s son. Red Farmer, a veteran NASCAR driver and family friend of the Allisons, was injured in the crash but survived.
  • The fastest speed ever recorded for a lap at Talladega was 216.309 mph in June 2004, set by Rusty Wallace; it does not replace Elliott’s record in that it was not for a NASCAR sanctioned event. Talladega is also the site of the first-ever NASCAR testing lap over 200 mph (Buddy Baker – 200.447 mph in 1970) and the first-ever NASCAR qualifying lap over 200 mph (Benny Parsons – 200.176 mph in 1982).
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads active drivers with six wins at Talladega, the most recent coming in May 2015; Earnhardt Jr.’s first four wins came in a span of four races from Oct. 2001-April 2003. The late Dale Earnhardt holds the record for most wins at the track (10), while Elliott holds the record for most poles (eight). There have been 11 first-time winners at Talladega, the most recent being Brian Vickers (Oct. 2006) and Brad Keselowski (April 2009).
  • Learn more about Talladega Superspeedway at www.talladegasuperspeedway.com


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