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05 December 2008

Talladega Superspeedway

Talladega Superspeedway Seating Chart

Talladega Superspeedway History

Address: Talladega, AL

Talladega Superspeedway

Big, fast and - sometimes - mean.

If stock-car racing is an extreme sport, Talladega Superspeedway is undoubtedly its most extreme venue. Nowhere else is the competition closer. Nowhere are NASCAR’s best drivers pushed closer to the edge.

Right from its very beginnings, Talladega Superspeedway tested the limits.

In the mid-1960s, an Anniston, Ala., insurance executive Bill Ward and NASCAR founder William H.G. France Sr. discussed the idea of building a sister track to Daytona International Speedway in Alabama. A site near an airport the city of Talladega had bought from the U.S. government after World War II was chosen and construction began in 1968.

When it was finished the following year, it was clear that the 2.66-mile oval, with 33-degree banking in the turns and 18-degree banking on the frontstretch trioval, was unlike anything anybody had ever seen.

Charlie Glotzbach won the pole for the first Cup race with a speed of 199.466 mph, and everyone was worried. Tire companies were having trouble building tires to hold up to the demands of that speed on the new surface, and drivers were concerned the race scheduled for that weekend would not be safe.

A new drivers’ union, known as the Professional Drivers Association, had formed that year and its members decided to boycott the race. France, determined not to disappoint fans who’d traveled to Alabama and bought tickets for the inaugural event, patched together a field to compete.

Richard Brickhouse won that race and France gave every fan who bought a ticket a rain check, inviting them back for another race when the sport’s top stars did show up. The PDA’s back was broken and Talladega Superspeedway was on its way.

Pete Hamilton swept the two Cup races in 1970. Alabama race fans got a treat in 1971 when Bobby Allison and Davey Allison, the father-and-son heroes of racing’s Alabama gang won the track’s 1971 events. David Pearson won the Winston 500 in three straight years beginning in 1972, then Buddy Baker won three straight races in 1975 and 1976.

Over the next decade, speeds continued to rise. Baker had been the first driver to ever top the 200 mph mark in March 1970, but by the mid-1980s speeds were topping 210 mph.

On April 30, 1987, Bill Elliott roared to the pole for the Winston 500 with a speed of 212.809 mph. In the race that weekend, however, Bobby Allison lost control of his car in the trioval and flew into the fence along the grandstands, tearing a huge swath away.

That accident led to the institution of carburetor restrictor plates at Talladega and Daytona, a move that slowed speeds below 200 mph but did not slow the action.

In the restrictor-plate era, the one man who distinguished himself as the master of the close drafting and high-speed chess match required for success at Talladega Superspeedway was Dale Earnhardt. Earnhardt won 10 Cup races and three International Race of Champions events to establish himself as the track’s all-time winner. His most memorable Talladega Superspeedway win came in 2000, when he came from 18th with less than five laps left to score what would be his final Cup victory.

More than 145,000 reserved seat tickets are available for fans coming to Talladega Superspeedway. But the people who buy them rarely use them. They’re too busy standing up, cheering on the drivers racing three- and four-wide at nearly 200 mph.

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