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  • Writer's pictureLloyd Brown

Talladega Superspeedway


Photos by Talladega Superspeedway and Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

Talladega Superspeedway 3366 Speedway Boulevard Lincoln, AL 35096



Year Opened: 1969

Capacity: 78,000

 

The Need For Speed

Talladega Speedway opened in 1969 as Alabama International Motor Speedway, a name it kept until 1989. The Speedway is located on the site of a former military airfield, which was chosen due to its proximity to I-20 and its location between two of the South’s largest cities (Atlanta, GA, and Birmingham, AL). Talladega Motor Speedway is often referred to as the “Big One” due to it having the largest oval track at 2.66 miles and its seating capacity for more than 80,000 fans. It has also had the reputation as one of the fastest and wildest tracks in the NASCAR circuit, as it sees racing at speeds in excess of 200 mph and is also known for its spectacular accidents.


The Superspeedway is one of the busiest racetracks in NASCAR, holding races at all levels of competition throughout the year. Its main two races are the GEICO 500 held in the spring and the YellaWood 500 held in the fall.


Food & Beverage 3


Unlike most sports, Talladega does allow food and beverages to be brought into the Speedway. Walk in fans can bring in food if it is in a sealed and prepackaged container. Drinks must also be sealed, with no glass bottles allowed. Coolers must be soft-sided and no larger than 14” X 14” X 14”. RV’s and campers in the track infield face no limits in what they bring in… resulting in some amazing spreads of food over race weekend.


Most of the food options available at Talladega will be of the standard sports event variety (i.e., hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, corn dogs, BBQ sandwiches, biscuits, and Coca-Cola soft drinks.) The concession stands are equally spread out on the concourses underneath the stands and in the infield.


However, there are a couple of strictly Talladega creations. The “Big One” meatball sandwich is a one-pound meatball, and it includes mozzarella and pepper jack cheese, pork BBQ sauce with a wrapping of ground beef. It is served with spaghetti or simply as its own dish. The second specialty item is the Talla-Mento Dogwich. This entrée consists of a hot dog, split in two, on a bed of buffalo cheese sauce and topped with pimento cheese.


There are some major food stands serving a more diverse menu. These include Big Bill’s, the Garage Grill and the Pit Road Grill. The Bama Bier Garden offers both Budweiser and Miller brand options, along with the local Back Forty craft beer.


Fans in the Garage Experience option are eligible for the value pricing of concession offerings. This includes $2 hot dogs and 20-ounce soft drinks, $3 16-ounce beers, hamburgers, BBQ sandwiches, nachos and pretzels, or $4 to supersize any of the above foods.


Atmosphere 4

Talladega Superspeedway has the longest track in the NASCAR circuit. This means the stands overlooking the track are not as high vertically, as they extend horizontally the length of the straightway. This results in the fans being much closer to the action than at other tracks.


Fans have several options and price points to choose from on seating at the track. Tower seating atop the stands ranges from $105 - $145, and seats at the concourse level are priced at $97- $129. Grandstand seats run $65 - $95.


Car parking ranges from free to $20 a day. The price of parking depends on how far the parking space is from the track. Remote lots feature tram transportation to the track.


Many fans prefer to make a weekend out of the race and enjoy infield camping. These packages range from $120-$625 with variables including the number of days at the track and other add-on amenities. One popular option is the YellaWood Pit Road Club. This is an elevated area overlooking the pit row action. This costs $470 and includes the Talladega Garage Experience.


Talladega Superspeedway conducted a three-year upgrade fan experience project known as the “Transformation”. This project had the goals of creating a package of activities for fans to enjoy, increasing the number of RV spaces in the infield, and the construction of the Pit Road Club.


This project resulted in the creation of the Talladega Garage Experience. This package includes the opportunity to watch the pit crews prepping the cars in the garage before the race, access to the pre-race ceremonies, access to special food offerings with a value-priced menu, and access to Iron Alley, which is an area featuring the history of the Talladega Superspeedway. The Talladega Garage Experience costs $89 per day.


Neighborhood 4

The sprawling Talladega Superspeedway complex is “the neighborhood” for most race fans. It offers its own temporary lodging options, food services, bathing facilities, and entertainment options. Many race fans will not leave the Superspeedway property between Friday through Sunday night of race weekend.


The area outside of the raceway property and along I-20 mostly consists of fast-food restaurants. One seated food option we highly recommend is Rick’s Crossroads Grille located just north of I-20. The food is great, and the prices are quite reasonable. There are two lodging options located at the exits that lead you to the track. They are the Comfort Inn Talladega and the Days Inn Lincoln.


The actual city of Talladega is 8 miles south of the track. It is a town of 15,000 people. Most of the food options are of the fast-food variety and lodging options are limited, as there simply is not a demand for lodging except on race weekends. We do recommend a visit to the Davey Allison Memorial Park, which is discussed in the Extras section of this review.


Fans 5

A vast majority of the fans who come to the Talladega Superspeedway are there strictly for the racing experience. However, others treat the weekend like a festival or a state fair experience. For those fans, there is nothing that beats the “Big One on the Boulevard”. This event takes place on the Friday night prior to the races. It includes a concert, a parade, jello wrestling, fan participation activities with various sponsors booths, and all kinds of food and adult drinks. We can best sum up this event by saying “What happens at the Big One… Stays at the Big One”!


First-time fans should bring their cameras, a good set of earphones/ear plugs as well as sunscreen and a hat. The Speedway action is quite noisy, and the southern sun can bake you on a daylong event.


Access 4

The Speedway is easy to get to from I-20, as it is located just south of I-20, midway between Atlanta and Birmingham.


From Atlanta: Take I-20 West to Exit 173 in Alabama. Turn left at the exit and proceed two miles.


From Birmingham: Take I-20 East to Exit 168 in Alabama. Turn right and proceed 4 miles.


Parking lots are located on both sides of the road. Camping sites are in grass fields on land in between the street and I-20. Free trams will transport fans from the more distant parking areas and the track. Parking is also located on the track perimeter as well as in the infield. Parking fees will depend on how close the lots are to the racetrack. The fees also are determined by the number of days the fans are staying at the Speedway, as many fans come as early as the Friday before the race, while others choose to attend only on Sunday, the day of the race.


Entry lanes for the Speedway are arranged by the parking area, making the traffic flow run very smoothly.


Return on Investment 4

It is impossible to estimate a value on the cost of attending a race at Talladega Superspeedway, as 1) there are so many variables involved, including the number of days at the track, the location of your seats, whether you are seated in the stands or watching from the infield 2) it will depend on what add -on’s you may have purchased. Some of these costs are covered in the appropriate section of this review, while others appear below.


Many race fans choose to rent scanners to enhance their race day experience. They are available at the track for a fee of $47.95. The scanners allow the fans to hear the communications between the drivers and their pit crews in the infield. The scanners also provide some protection from the noise generated by the cars on the track.


For many race fans, price is not a consideration, as race weekend at Talladega is a family tradition passed down through the generations. In addition to the family reunions, fans look forward to seeing friends at the event on an annual basis. These memories and experiences are priceless.


The Talladega Superspeedway operates on a cashless basis.


Extras 4

Several movies have been made about the Speedway. They include Stroker Ace and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.


The International Motorsports Hall of Fame is located just to the right of the Speedway entrance. It is open year-round and has a huge collection of racing memorabilia and exhibits from all types of motorsports. Track tours also leave from this site. Prices for museum tours are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $7 for children. There is a separate fee for the tours. The tours are $15 for adults and $9 for children.


The town of Talladega is several miles south of the Speedway. It does play an important role in the NASCAR world as it is the home of the Davey Allison Memorial Park and the Texaco Racing Hall of Fame. Allison was seen as the future of the sport when he died in a helicopter crash in the Speedway infield in 1993. The Walk of Fame features plaques depicting racing’s top drivers and their career records in a lovely park-like setting just south of the town square.


Each year Talladega Superspeedway opens its track to the public. For a $50 donation, you can take 2 laps around the track in your own vehicle. Proceeds from the Track Laps for Charity event go to the Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs of Alabama.


Final Thoughts

Along with Daytona, the Talladega Superspeedway is one of the longest and most popular tracks in the NASCAR circuit. It is famous for petal to the metal racing, resulting in spectacular wrecks and furious sprints to the checkered flag.

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