What's Talladega? It not just a race track. It's a SUPER SPEEDWAY, an atmosphere that's festive and bright, swarming with happy people everywhere at 7:30 in the morning, a sport that is like no other whose fans are like no other. Some get there days ahead and camp through Monday! The smells of all sorts of delicious food waft over the air, some from those taligating and cooking over charcoal on grills, some from vendors who show up each year.
The sounds are music (always there is Sweet Home Alabama playing somewhere!) and there are multiple helicopters flying overhead, a blimp sometimes buzzing slowly shooting video for the television coverage, and there are the numerous private jets flying in for the landing, to deliver their drivers to the raceway.
You'll also hear policemen's whistles as they direct six solid lanes of traffic inching into the huge complex four HOURS ON END...all to make a crowd of more than 140,000 souls in one place for one reason: to watch men race their amazingly fast machines against each other in a frighteningly bizarre, gigantic (2.66 miles!) racetrack that is as wide as a four-lane expressway, very steep on both ends: the turns are from four to six stories TALL and the pitch of those turns are as steep as an old farmhouse roof!
The huge complex that is the raceway, is over 2,500 acres and all around it are privately held parking lots and campgrounds. It is something that has its own museum, its own airstrip, and an infield that is larger than some racetracks on the NASCAR circuit! (If you are ever able to take a tour, or to do the PETTEY Ride-Along, do it! You'll learn a ton about this track that you never knew, and the ride around the track at 170mph is something you'll never forget! I did it and I loved it!)
There are miles of campgrounds on the roads leading into the track facility.
We always start the day with a little shopping at the huge food/merchandise markets set up in the open air across from the track complex. You'll see EVERYTHING there...take your pick...clothing, merchandise (some naughty, most nice) of ALL kinds and food!
After a little shopping for a new t-shirt of our favorite driver, a new dog collar and leash, we turn around and head back to the old farmhouse parking lot and then....
We find our seat and enjoy what we can see of the pre-race show, driver introductions, and then once the men remove their hats and the National Anthem is sung, we are treated to a huge semi driving the whole track with the most enormous American flag you've ever seen flying proudly on the back of the truck to the cheers of the crowds, with the finale being flyovers from the Air Force and a case of intense pride and goosebumps happen to me EVERY single time!
This man pictured here in the foreground, spotted a race fan heading up the steps of the stands during the National Anthem with his hat on his head. He took his own hat, smacked the man on the arm with it and said "Take off your hat!". The man sprinting up the steps, removed his hat, but kept on going. I wanted to go hug this man for standing up for his country! (Click on photo to see each of the race pit crews in perfect formation for the National Anthem and flyover!)
Then, (I wish you could hear it!) all the cars start their engines and it's a roar like you wouldn't believe to have almost fifty of these powerful engines running at once; it'll shake you in your seat! But that's nothing like it will be in a few minutes when they all get up to full speed and run that track at almost 200 mph!