04 May Talladega Superspeedway – NASCAR’S Most Competitive Speedway
Prior to 1969 Talladega, Alabama was known for as a farming community and as the home to the first school for the blind in the state. But today, Talladega means something much different to NASCAR fans! Known as one of the fastest tracks in NASCAR, the Talladega Superspeedway offers fans and racers a much anticipated return to Pack Racking. As this weekend’s race approaches, fans’ excitement builds! What speed will the Sprint Cup Cars max out on? Which lap will land the mother of all wrecks, the “Big One” of Pack Racing? Before you watch Clint Bowyer in the Aaron’s 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race this Sunday, here’s a little background on the notorious Talladega Superspeedway.
During the 1960’s NASCAR’s co-founder Bill France was looking for a place to build a race track that would be faster and bigger than all other existing race tracks. With his sights specifically set on Daytona, he chose to start building the bigger, better track in Talladega. Originally named the Alabama International Motor Speedway, the new track was built on an open Alabama airfield. Construction of the track started on May 23, 1968 and the first race, the ‘Bama 400 Grand Touring Race, was on September 13, 1969.
Just as Bill France envisioned, the Talladega Superspeedway has been home to some of the fastest and most competitive racing in NASCAR history. France’s vision resulted in the construction of a racetrack with 33 degree banking, a 2.66 mile long track and a 4,000 foot long backstretch that lets stock cars to reach speeds of up to 220 miles per hour! With high speeds come massive wrecks. Racing at Talladega often means cars are racing packs going three or even four cars wide into the corners, all in extremely tight quarters. These close quarters can spell disaster for even the most experienced racers. Drivers are unable to avoid an accident that occurs in front of them and the smallest mistake can lead to a huge multi-car accident, aka “the Big One”.
On top of the famous pack racing, there are also rumors of Talladega Superspeedway being cursed or jinxed. Of course there are many different rumors about the origin of the curse; some say the speedway was built on an Indian burial ground while others say a shaman of a local Indian tribe put a curse on the valley. Regardless, the curse has gotten in the heads of some NASCAR drivers in the past. In 1973 Bobby Isaac left his car in the middle of a race because he said he heard a voice telling him to get out. Earlier in the same race, driver Larry Smith died in what appeared to be a minor car wreck. In 1993 Davey Allison died in a helicopter accident on Talladega’s infield. Do you believe in the “Dega Curse”?
Curses and wrecks aside, this weekend’s race is sure to include some high speed, action packed fun for NASCAR fans! Will you be tuning into the race and cheering Clint on with the rest of the 5-hour ENERGY® Racing team?