Talladega Superspeedway

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Talladega Superspeedway
"Dega"
TalladegaSuperspeedway2.jpg
Aerial view of Talladega Superspeedway in 2007. The runways of the defunct Anniston Air Force Base are visible as well.
LocationTalladega County, Alabama,
at 3366 Speedway Boulevard, Lincoln, Alabama 35096, United States[1]
Time zoneGMT-6
Coordinates33°34′01.06″N 86°03′57.85″W / 33.5669611°N 86.0660694°W / 33.5669611; -86.0660694Coordinates: 33°34′01.06″N 86°03′57.85″W / 33.5669611°N 86.0660694°W / 33.5669611; -86.0660694
Capacity175,000
OwnerInternational Speedway Corporation
OperatorInternational Speedway Corporation
Broke groundMay 23, 1968
OpenedSeptember 13, 1969
Construction costUS$4 million
ArchitectBill Ward and William France Sr.
Former namesAlabama International Motor Speedway(1969–1989)
Major eventsNASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Aaron's 499, Camping World RV Sales 500
NASCAR Nationwide Series
Aaron's 312
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Coca-Cola 250
ARCA Racing Series
Food World 250
Tri-oval
SurfaceAsphalt
Length2.66 mi (4.28 km)
Turns4
BankingTurns 1&2: 33°
Turn 3: 32.4°
Turn 4: 32.5°
Tri-oval: 16.5°
Back straight: 3°
Lap record0:44.998 (Bill Elliott, Melling Racing, 1987, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series)
 
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Talladega Superspeedway
"Dega"
TalladegaSuperspeedway2.jpg
Aerial view of Talladega Superspeedway in 2007. The runways of the defunct Anniston Air Force Base are visible as well.
LocationTalladega County, Alabama,
at 3366 Speedway Boulevard, Lincoln, Alabama 35096, United States[1]
Time zoneGMT-6
Coordinates33°34′01.06″N 86°03′57.85″W / 33.5669611°N 86.0660694°W / 33.5669611; -86.0660694Coordinates: 33°34′01.06″N 86°03′57.85″W / 33.5669611°N 86.0660694°W / 33.5669611; -86.0660694
Capacity175,000
OwnerInternational Speedway Corporation
OperatorInternational Speedway Corporation
Broke groundMay 23, 1968
OpenedSeptember 13, 1969
Construction costUS$4 million
ArchitectBill Ward and William France Sr.
Former namesAlabama International Motor Speedway(1969–1989)
Major eventsNASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Aaron's 499, Camping World RV Sales 500
NASCAR Nationwide Series
Aaron's 312
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Coca-Cola 250
ARCA Racing Series
Food World 250
Tri-oval
SurfaceAsphalt
Length2.66 mi (4.28 km)
Turns4
BankingTurns 1&2: 33°
Turn 3: 32.4°
Turn 4: 32.5°
Tri-oval: 16.5°
Back straight: 3°
Lap record0:44.998 (Bill Elliott, Melling Racing, 1987, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series)

Talladega Superspeedway (formerly Alabama International Motor Speedway) is a motorsports complex located north of Talladega, Alabama, United States.[1] It is located on the former Anniston Air Force Base just outside the small city of Lincoln. The Track is a Tri-oval and was constructed by International Speedway Corporation, a business controlled by the France Family, in the 1960s. Talladega is most known for its steep banking and the unique location of the start/finish line - which is closer to turn one than at Daytona. The track currently hosts the NASCAR series such as the Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series, and the Camping World Truck Series. Talladega Superspeedway is the longest NASCAR oval with a length of 2.66 miles (4.28 km), and the track also has a seating capacity of 175,000 spectators,[2] although the capacity will be reduced to 88,000 by 2014.[3]

History[edit]

During 1960s Bill France was wanting to build a track faster and longer than Daytona International Speedway. He would end up breaking ground on an old airfield on May 23, 1968. The track would be named Alabama International Motor Speedway (AIMS), but the name would not carry on and was later changed to Talladega Superspeedway. The track opened on September 13, 1969 costing $4 million. The first race at the new track was unlike any other; all the original drivers abandoned the track because of tire problems which caused Bill France to hire substitute drivers. The first finish was amazing with three cars side by side with the winner being Richard Brickhouse. After the first race, Talladega would host two Sprint Cup Series races a year, one of which would become part of the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup. Since the opening year Talladega has hosted many races and has been repaved four times. Talladega would also have many first time winners such as Larry Schild Sr, Richard Brickhouse, Brian Vickers, and Brad Keselowski.[4]

A 4-mile (6.4 km) infield road course was in operation from the track's founding until 1983.[5] Six IMSA GT Championship races were held in the 1970s, including a six-hour race in 1978.[6]

Talladega Superspeedway after the repaving of the track.

During May 2006 Talladega Superspeedway started to re-surface the track and the apron. Construction started on May 1, 2006 and lasted until September 18, 2006. The first race on the resurfaced race track was the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series on October 7, 2006.[7]

The "Big One"[edit]

Speeds in excess of 200 mph (320 km/h) are commonplace at Talladega. Talladega Superspeedway has the record for the fastest recorded time by a NASCAR stock car in a closed oval course, with the record of 216.309 mph set by Rusty Wallace on June 9, 2004.[8] Wallace circled the 2.66-mile (4.28-km) trioval in 44.270 seconds, which surpassed the previous record held by Bill Elliott (212.809 mph) set in 1987, but doesn't replace the record due to the fact it was a radio test and not a NASCAR sanctioned event. Buddy Baker was the first driver to test at a speed over 200 mph, with a 200.447 mph lap during testing on March 24, 1970. Baker's record was set while driving the #88 Chrysler Engineering Charger Daytona, which is currently undergoing restoration in Detroit, after being found in the late 1990s in Iowa. The late Benny Parsons was the first driver to qualify at over 200 mph, doing so in 1982 with a speed of 200.176 mph.

In May 1987, Bobby Allison, after a blown engine, cut his right-rear tire from the debris while going through the tri-oval portion of the track. The car was vaulted airborne. His car damaged a portion of the frontstretch catch fence, but did not enter the spectator area. NASCAR imposed rule changes to slow the cars after the incident, with a 1988 rule requiring cars running there and at Daytona to use restrictor plates. The most often cited reason is a fear that the increasing speeds were exceeding the capabilities of the tires available at the time, as high-speed tire failure had led to some gruesome crashes at slightly lower speeds. The plates limit the amount of air and fuel entering the intake manifolds of the engine, greatly reducing the power of the cars and hence their speed. This has led to an extremely competitive style of racing at Talladega and Daytona.

The reduced power affects not only the maximum speed reached by the cars but the time it takes them to achieve their full speed as well, which can be nearly one full circuit of the track. The racing seen at Talladega today is extremely tight; often in rows of three or four cars, and sometimes even five lanes wide on the straightaways throughout most of the field, as the track is wide enough to permit such racing. Breaking away from the pack is very difficult as well.

Such close quarters, however, makes it extremely difficult for a driver to avoid an incident as it is unfolding in front of him, and the slightest mistake can lead to a multi-car accident – dubbed "the Big One" by fans and drivers. It is uncommon, but possible, to see 20 or more cars collected in the crashes. Occasionally, cars go airborne. NASCAR has made several advances in safety over the years to lessen the chance of a car going airborne.

The Talladega jinx[edit]

Numerous strange occurrences at the track have led to rumors of Talladega Superspeedway being cursed. Stories of the origin of the curse vary. Some claim that a local Native American tribe held horse races in the valley where the track currently resides where a chief was killed when he was thrown from his horse. Others say that the site of the superspeedway was once an Indian burial ground. Still another version says that after the local tribe was driven out by the Creek nation for their collaborating with the forces of Andrew Jackson, a shaman put a curse on the valley.[9]

Since the construction of the track, many strange happenings and untimely deaths have fueled the rumors of a curse. In 1973, Bobby Isaac left his car during the race on lap 90 because of voices he claimed to have heard which told him to park his car and get out. Earlier on lap 14 in the same race, young driver Larry Smith died in a seemingly minor wreck. In 1974, the morning before the Winston 500, drivers and crews alike found multiple cars sabotaged by cut brake lines and sand in the gas tank.[9] During the 1975 Winston 500, Randy Owens, a crew member for Petty Enterprises, was killed by an air tank that exploded in the pits. [10]

To some, Bobby Allison's 1987 wreck described above was yet another reminder of the curse. In 1993, Bobby's son, Davey Allison, died in a helicopter crash in the infield of Talladega.[9] In 1996, Automobile Racing Club of America president Bob Loga died after a traffic accident in a parking area. [11]

The Legend of Hallowdega, a comedic short film about the Talladega jinx, was directed by Terry Gilliam and released in 2010.

Scheduled races[edit]

Talladega Superspeedway hosts many NASCAR events which include two Sprint Cup Series races, one Nationwide Series race, and one Camping World Truck Series race. The Sprint Cup Series races include the Aaron's 499, and the Camping World RV Sales 500 which are both 188 laps each or 500.08 miles (804.80 km). The Nationwide Series race has historically been a 500-kilometer race (117 laps) since its 1992 inception, but was cut to 300 miles (480 km) (113 laps) in 1998 because of a spectator's letter questioning the metric distance, but restored to 500 kilometers by its current sponsor. The Camping World Truck Series race is 250 miles (94 laps). The ARCA race, once a 500 kilometer affair, was shortened to 300 miles in 1998, and to 250 miles in 2006 when it was moved to Friday.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series records[edit]

(As of 10/23/11)

Most Wins10Dale Earnhardt
Most Consecutive Wins4Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Most Top 5s23Dale Earnhardt
Most Top 10s27Dale Earnhardt
Starts61Dave Marcis
Poles8Bill Elliott
Most Laps Completed9777Dave Marcis
Most Laps Led1377Dale Earnhardt
Avg. Start*3.6Bobby Isaac
Avg. Finish*5.6Pete Hamilton

* from minimum 5 starts.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winners[edit]

SeasonDateWinning DriverCar #SponsorMakeAvg SpeedMargin of Victory
1969September 14Richard Brickhouse99Nichels Engineering’69 Dodge153.778 mph (247.482 km/h)7 sec
1970April 12Pete Hamilton40Petty Enterprises’70 Plymouth152.321 mph (245.137 km/h)44 sec
1970August 23Pete Hamilton40Petty Enterprises’70 Plymouth158.517 mph (255.108 km/h)10 sec
1971May 16Donnie Allison21Wood Brothers’69 Mercury147.419 mph (237.248 km/h)6 cl
1971August 22Bobby Allison12Holman-Moody’69 Mercury145.945 mph (234.876 km/h)2.1sec
1972May 7David Pearson21Wood Brothers’71 Mercury134.4 mph (216.296 km/h)4.9 sec
1972August 6James Hylton48Hylton Engineering’71 Mercury148.728 mph (239.355 km/h)1 cl
1973May 6David Pearson21Purolator’71 Mercury131.956 mph (212.363 km/h)1 lap
1973August 12Dick Brooks22Eastern Airlines’72 Plymouth145.454 mph (234.086 km/h)7.2 sec
1974May 5David Pearson21Purolator’73 Mercury130.22 mph (209.569 km/h)0.17 sec
1974August 11Richard Petty43STP’74 Dodge148.637 mph (239.208 km/h)UC
1975May 4Buddy Baker15Sunny King’75 Ford144.948 mph (233.271 km/h)1 cl
1975August 17Buddy Baker15Sunny King’75 Ford130.892 mph (210.650 km/h)5 feet
1976May 2Buddy Baker15Norris IndustriesFord169.887 mph (273.407 km/h)35 sec
1976August 8Dave Marcis71K&K InsuranceDodge157.547 mph (253.547 km/h)29.5 sec
1977May 1Darrell Waltrip88GatoradeChevrolet164.877 mph (265.344 km/h)0.29 sec
1977August 7Donnie Allison1Hawaiian TropicChevrolet162.524 mph (261.557 km/h)UC
1978May 14Cale Yarborough11First National CityOldsmobile155.699 mph (250.573 km/h)2 cl
1978August 6Lennie Pond54W.I.N.Oldsmobile174.7 mph (281.15 km/h)2 cl
1979May 6Bobby Allison15Hodgdon/MooreFord154.77 mph (249.078 km/h)1 lap + 50 sec
1979August 5Darrell Waltrip88GatoradeOldsmobile161.229 mph (259.473 km/h)62 sec
1980May 4Buddy Baker28NAPAOldsmobile170.481 mph (274.363 km/h)3 feet
1980August 3Neil Bonnett21PurolatorMercury166.894 mph (268.590 km/h)6 cl
1981May 3Bobby Allison28The 5 RacersBuick149.376 mph (240.397 km/h)0.1 sec
1981August 2Ron Bouchard47Race Hill FarmBuick156.737 mph (252.244 km/h)2 feet
1982May 2Darrell Waltrip11Mountain DewBuick156.597 mph (252.018 km/h)3 cl
1982August 1Darrell Waltrip11Mountain DewBuick168.157 mph (270.622 km/h)1 cl
1983May 1Richard Petty43STPPontiac153.936 mph (247.736 km/h)2 cl
1983July 31Dale Earnhardt15WranglerFord170.611 mph (274.572 km/h)4 cl
1984May 6Cale Yarborough28Hardee’sChevrolet172.988 mph (278.397 km/h)2 cl
1984July 29Dale Earnhardt3WranglerChevrolet155.485 mph (250.229 km/h)1.66 sec
1985May 5Bill Elliott9CoorsFord Thunderbird186.288 mph (299.801 km/h)1.72 sec
1985July 28Cale Yarborough28Hardee’sFord Thunderbird148.772 mph (239.425 km/h)0.66 sec
1986May 4Bobby Allison22Miller AmericanBuick Regal157.698 mph (253.790 km/h)0.19 sec
1986July 27Bobby Hillin Jr8Miller AmericanBuick Regal151.522 mph (243.851 km/h)3 cl
1987May 3Davey Allison28Texaco HavolineFord Thunderbird154.228 mph (248.206 km/h)0.78 sec
1987July 26Bill Elliott9CoorsFord Thunderbird171.293 mph (275.669 km/h)0.15 sec
1988May 1Phil Parsons55Crown Petroleum / Skoal ClassicOldsmobile Cutlass156.547 mph (251.938 km/h)0.21 sec
1988July 31Ken Schrader25FolgersChevrolet Monte Carlo154.505 mph (248.652 km/h)2 cl
1989May 7Davey Allison28Texaco HavolineFord Thunderbird155.869 mph (250.847 km/h)2 cl
1989July 30Terry Labonte11BudweiserFord Thunderbird157.354 mph (253.237 km/h)0.2 sec
1990May 6Dale Earnhardt3GoodwrenchChevrolet Lumina159.571 mph (256.805 km/h)2 cl
1990July 29Dale Earnhardt3GoodwrenchChevrolet Lumina174.43 mph (280.718 km/h)0.26 sec
1991May 6Harry Gant33Skoal BanditOldsmobile Cutlass165.62 mph (266.540 km/h)11 sec
1991July 28Dale Earnhardt3GoodwrenchChevrolet Lumina147.383 mph (237.19 km/h)1.5 cl
1992May 3Davey Allison28Texaco HavolineFord Thunderbird167.609 mph (269.741 km/h)2 cl
1992July 26Ernie Irvan4Kodak FilmChevrolet Lumina176.309 mph (283.742 km/h)0.19 sec
1993May 2Ernie Irvan4Kodak FilmChevrolet Lumina155.412 mph (250.111 km/h)2 cl
1993July 25Dale Earnhardt3GoodwrenchChevrolet Lumina153.858 mph (247.610 km/h)0.005 sec
1994May 1Dale Earnhardt3GoodwrenchChevrolet Lumina157.478 mph (253.436 km/h)0.06 sec
1994July 24Jimmy Spencer27McDonald’sFord Thunderbird163.217 mph (262.672 km/h)0.025 sec
1995April 30Mark Martin6ValvolineFord Thunderbird178.902 mph (287.915 km/h)0.18 sec
1995July 23Sterling Marlin4Kodak FilmChevrolet Monte Carlo173.188 mph (278.719 km/h)0.05 sec
1996April 28Sterling Marlin4Kodak FilmChevrolet Monte Carlo149.999 mph (241.400 km/h)0.22 sec
1996July 28Jeff Gordon24DuPont RefinishesChevrolet Monte Carlo133.387 mph (214.666 km/h)0.146 sec
1997May 10Mark Martin6ValvolineFord Thunderbird188.354 mph (303.126 km/h)0.146 sec
1997October 12Terry Labonte5Kellogg'sChevrolet Monte Carlo156.601 mph (252.025 km/h)0.146 sec
1998April 26Bobby Labonte18Interstate BatteriesPontiac Grand Prix144.428 mph (232.434 km/h)0.167 sec
1998October 11Dale Jarrett88Quality Care/Ford CreditFord Taurus159.318 mph (256.397 km/h)0.14 sec
1999April 25Dale Earnhardt3GoodwrenchChevrolet Monte Carlo163.395 mph (262.959 km/h)0.137 sec
1999October 17Dale Earnhardt3GoodwrenchChevrolet Monte Carlo166.632 mph (268.168 km/h)0.114 sec
2000April 16Jeff Gordon24DuPontChevrolet Monte Carlo161.157 mph (259.357 km/h)0.189 sec
2000October 15Dale Earnhardt3GoodwrenchChevrolet Monte Carlo165.681 mph (266.638 km/h)0.119 sec
2001April 22Bobby Hamilton55Square DChevrolet Monte Carlo184.003 mph (296.124 km/h)0.163 sec
2001October 21Dale Earnhardt Jr8BudweiserChevrolet Monte Carlo164.185 mph (264.230 km/h)0.388 sec
2002April 21Dale Earnhardt Jr8BudweiserChevrolet Monte Carlo159.022 mph (255.921 km/h)0.060 sec
2002October 6Dale Earnhardt Jr8BudweiserChevrolet Monte Carlo183.665 mph (295.580 km/h)0.118 sec
2003April 6Dale Earnhardt Jr8BudweiserChevrolet Monte Carlo144.625 mph (232.751 km/h)0.125 sec
2003September 28Michael Waltrip15NAPAChevrolet Monte Carlo156.045 mph (251.130 km/h)0.095 sec
2004April 25Jeff Gordon24DuPont/PepsiChevrolet Monte Carlo129.396 mph (208.243 km/h)UC
2004October 3Dale Earnhardt Jr8BudweiserChevrolet Monte Carlo156.929 mph (252.55 km/h)0.117 sec
2005May 1Jeff Gordon24DuPontChevrolet Monte Carlo146.904 mph (236.419 km/h)0.193 sec/GWC
2005October 2Dale Jarrett88UPSFord Taurus143.818 mph (231.453 km/h)UC/GWC
2006May 1Jimmie Johnson48Lowe’sChevrolet Monte Carlo142.891 mph (229.961 km/h)0.120 sec
2006October 8Brian Vickers25GMACChevrolet Monte Carlo157.602 mph (253.636 km/h)UC
2007April 29Jeff Gordon24DuPontChevrolet Monte Carlo154.167 mph (248.108 km/h)UC/GWC
2007October 7Jeff Gordon24PepsiChevrolet Impala SS143.445 mph (230.852 km/h)0.066
2008April 27Kyle Busch18M&M'sToyota Camry157.409 mph (253.325 km/h)UC
2008October 5Tony Stewart20Home Depot / SubwayToyota Camry140.281 mph (225.760 km/h)0.052 sec / GWC
2009April 26Brad Keselowski09MiccosukeeChevrolet Impala SS147.565 mph (237.483 km/h)0.175 sec
2009November 1Jamie McMurray26Irwin Industrial ToolsFord Fusion149.759 mph (241.014 km/h)UC/GWC
2010April 25Kevin Harvick29Shell / PenzoilChevrolet Impala150.59 mph (242.351 km/h)0.011 sec / GWC
2010October 31Clint Bowyer33BB&TChevrolet Impala163.618 mph (263.318 km/h)UC
2011April 17Jimmie Johnson48Lowe'sChevrolet Impala156.261 mph (251.478 km/h)0.002 sec
2011October 23Clint Bowyer33Chevy 100 Year AnniversaryChevrolet Impala143.404 mph (230.786 km/h)0.018 sec
2012May 6Brad Keselowski2Miller LiteDodge Charger160.192 mph (257.804 km/h)0.304 sec
2012October 7Matt Kenseth17Ford EcoBoostFord Fusion171.194 mph (275.510 km/h)UC/GWC
2013May 5David Ragan34Farm RichFord Fusion148.729 mph (239.356 km/h)0.212 sec / GWC
2013October 20Jamie McMurray1CessnaChevrolet SS178.795 mph (287.743 km/h)UC

NOTES:

Current races[edit]

The circuit's infield also hosts the Birmingham Ultimate Disc Association Mud Bowl tournament in the winter.

Records[edit]

Bill Elliott's car that set the record for the fastest qualifying speed in a stock car – 212.809 mph (342.483 km/h)

First-time winners[edit]

A large number of drivers won the first race of their careers at Talladega. As of May 5, 2013, 10 drivers have won their first race at Talladega.

Racing schools[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Track Location". Talladega Superspeedway. Retrieved 27 March 2010. 
  2. ^ "Track Facts". Talladega Superspeedway. Retrieved 27 March 2010. 
  3. ^ Utter, Jim (27 November 2013). "Talladega Superspeedway to reduce seating to 80,000". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved 28 November 2013. 
  4. ^ "History". Talladega Superspeedway. Retrieved 28 March 2010. 
  5. ^ Talladega Superspeedway. na-motorsports.com. April 24, 2006. ISBN 0-7368-4379-5. Retrieved 2009-11-29. 
  6. ^ "Talladega – List of Races". Racing Sports Cars. Retrieved 29 November 2009. 
  7. ^ "2006 Reconfiguration". USA Today. Retrieved 28 March 2010. 
  8. ^ a b http://www.nascar.com/2004/news/headlines/cup/06/10/rwallace_talladega/index.html Accessed July 4, 2007.
  9. ^ a b c "They're hearing voices at Talladega". ESPN. Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  10. ^ http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=2953
  11. ^ "Bob Loga fatally injured". http://www.motorsport.com/arca/news/bob-loga-fatally-injured/. 27 April 1996. 
  12. ^ Ryan, Nate (October 6, 2008). "Stewart breaks through, holds off Smith at Talladega". USA Today. 
  13. ^ "NASCAR Talladega: Matt Kenseth wins; massive crash on final lap". 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]