We arrived at Talladega Speeday in Alabama on Tuesday morning before the race.
Between I-20 and the race track is about 1 mile of open field. The part closest to the speedway is reserved for car parking on the day of the races, but the rest of the area is open to for camping to anyone with race tickets. And best of all, the camping is free.
We got there early and this is what the field looked like before it started filling up. You can't tell it in this picture, but it was pretty wet and we saw several people get stuck in the mud.
This is what is looked like on Thursday. I am standing in the same place as I was in the previous picture.
Lots of people camping. There were semi's, vans, tents and rv's. The gate keepers only required one person to have a race ticket, so some people came, even if they had no plans on attending the race. Even your tow vehicle had to have a pass to get in and out of the campground. The main stadium holds 143,000. The small stadium holds another 25,000. It would not surprise me to find there were close to 100,000 people camping in the area. The RV parks with hookups were charging as much as $350 for the week. The speedway itself had some reserved parking which started at about $75 for boondocking for 4 days. Some of the spots went for as much as $1600 for full hookups, and 4 tickets on the infield.
Another shot of the almost empty campground. Oh, btw, it was halloween weekend.
When we were in Panama City, FL, we stayed at a Moose Lodge and found out a group was coming to the races. We parked with them at the campground. Some of them have been coming to Talladega for 10 years and they have this tailgating thing down pat. Here you see the bar under the big tent. They had karaoke and everything.
And of course decorations. This nice guy invited everyone to join us.
He was the greeter at the tent.
They even had an ice maker. You can imagine the number of generators, going 24 hours a day, to keep all this running, i.e., the ice maker, the lights, the music system, the blender...
They even had a wedding at the campground on Saturday. I think this should qualify for the Redneck Wedding show.
We did visit the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
The previous picture was on the first day, this is the second day. By the third day the tent had been replaced by a trailer. And yes, the people did pick up the beer cans before they left on Monday.
The police patrolled by car as well as horseback.
We got some free tickets for Fridays practice.
By Friday night the campground was pretty full.
I'm glad I wasn't staying in this pop up.
Saturday night was a concert on the infield for anyone with Sunday tickets. The Zac Brown Band was the featured artist. If you don't know who this is, he is country/western. Have you heard the song "Chicken Fried", or "Toes" in the water, Toes in the Sand? Those are his latest hits. It was a great concert although the entire audience was standing in a mud pit from the rain earlier.
Sunday's big race is finally here. They are all lined up to start.
And I'm all ready with my headset and Talladega race shirt.
Talladega Speedway has one of the most controversial tracks. The banks are 30 degrees on the turns on this 2.6 mile track. The cars can actually get 4 wide as they race around. But with the bank being so steep it creates the potential for any car losing control to go airborne. Several years ago a car went over the fence and killed someone in the stands. They raised the fence following that incident.
Part of racing is the draft, where they get just inches from the car in front going 180 miles an hour. Sometimes they bump draft, meaning they bump the car in front. It has the risk of causing a massive accident if the driver starts spinning. So the race officials warned the drivers they were going to penalize anyone caught bump drafting. Twice during the race the drivers lined up, single file, racing around the track for 20-30 laps at a time. Not much excitement there! Lots of discussion the next day went on about this move. I believe the drivers did it on purpose to protest the officials trying to control the racing.