Talledega U.S.A. by Rick C. Limpert
When the explorer Desoto left his landing point in Florida in the 16th century and headed north to Alabama with his posse who would’ve thought a small town would have been settled that would now host one of the biggest and baddest Mecca’s of motor sports not only in this country, but anywhere.
since 1969, Alabama International Motor Speedway as it was originally called brought racing in its finest form to the Southeast and to fans everywhere. When avid racecar fan and driver Bill Ward realized the economic impact the construction of this track could do he got together NASACR founder William France and made it happen.
Talladega isn’t just a place to race fanatics; it’s a “State of Mind”. From breakneck speeds to gritty competition and record breaking performances Talladega can make the young driver on his way up, or break a driver who isn’t ready for what Talladega will throw at him.
Legend Davis Person became the first three-time winner at Talladega in the mid 70’s. Buddy Baker won three in a row in 1975 & 76. Then such names as Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison rode into victory circle three times.
But no mention of Talladega isn’t complete with out paying due respect to Dale Earnhardt who won more at Talladega than anyone, posting 10 Nextel Cup series win at the famed track over the years.
Records??? How about Bill Elliott setting a world stock car speed record in 1987 going 212.809 mph during a qualifying run? Or Mark Martin willing a caution free race in 1997 with a speed average of over 188 mph.
Dale Jr. has picked up where his father left off with victories in 2002,03 and 04.
Great finishes include possibly one of the best 1-2-3 finishes in history. 1981 was the year and Ron Bouchard surprisingly passed both Darrell Waltrip and Terry Labonte in the final 500 or so yards and won the UAW Ford 500 by a foot over Waltrip and less than two feet over Labonte.
Talladega means speed, Talladega means fun for fans. Over 143,000 fans will turn out this Sunday for the Aaron’s 499. Fans will gather in the grandstands and pack the infield to get their view of the festivities. Next to the track is the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and Museum. It’s a shrine to everything that is racing and shouldn’t be missed.
The 3000 acres Talladega stands on is a reminder of all that is good in racing. Even though it is the largest track in the United States that is not what makes it so unique and the best. It’s the people, the drivers, the anticipation, the history all rolled up into one big package that never fails to disappoint us race fans.
Was there a backlash at Hendricks Motorsports when Kyle Busch took off thinking his damaged car was through for the day last Sunday in Texas? Apparently not, it now appears to be a non issue in the Busch and Hendrick camp.
Busch learned the car was ready when he was on his way to the airport. By then it was too late and Dale Earnhardt Jr. who was done for the day jumped at the chance to hop in Busch’s ride as a courtesy to Busch’s team.
Hendrick Motorsports appreciated the good sportsmanship shown by Earnhardt. Other drivers said they would’ve done the exact same thing if they were asked.
The Week that Was
Jeff Gordon tied Dale Earnhardt for sixth on the all time victory list with a win Saturday night in Phoenix in the Subway Fresh Fit 500. It was the 76th win of Gordon’s career. Gordon respectfully paid homage to Earnhardt by waving an Earnhardt flag on his victory lap. Tony Stewart finished second, Denny Hamlin in third and Jimmie Johnson brought home Fourth.
With the win Gordon increased his points lead to 74 over Jeff Burton. Matt Kenseth is 160 back and Jimmie Johnson trails by 211. Big points movers included Kevin Harvick up three spots to 11th, and Greg Biffle up three spots to 14th.
NASCAR made no bones about embracing Virginia Tech after the tragedy that occurred there this past week. Ward Burton’s car even had the VT logo as the only logo on the hood, as well as many Virginia Tech hats and shirts were seen throughout the pits all weekend.
It’s the middle of May, this must be Darlington. A favorite race for drivers and fans the Darlington Raceway will experience some changes following May’s race. Among the changes will be a complete repaving of the track, installing concrete pit stalls and completing a new infield entry tunnel. The new tunnel will be able to accommodate race haulers and motor coaches. Fans will notice such changes as improved parking areas and changes to the luxury suites.
About the Author
Rick C. Limpert is a freelance writer for Nothin’ But NASCAR, and is based in Atlanta, GA. He has written for print and online publications for over 7 years. He is happy to hear from you with any comments, questions, or suggestions you may have. He can be reached at [email protected]