NASCAR President Mike Helton has a long affinity for Talladega Superspeedway. As a former president of the track (1988-1993) and a self-proclaimed race fan, he has witnessed some of the greatest races in Talladega Superspeedway history. He shared some of his favorite memories of Talladega with race fans during a hospitality appearance last fall.
“Talladega is one of those places in this industry and in this sport that endears itself to you,” said Helton. “I guess sometimes it’s hard to explain. The racetrack itself is such a phenomenon that I think it always puts on NASCAR at its best.
“The whole environment is just fun to be a part of. I really enjoyed running this racetrack. I met some friends that are friends for life from this area. The people here are some of the best we run across.”
Helton cited the 2000 Winston 500, in which Dale Earnhardt moved from 18th to first in the final five laps, as an example of a memorable Talladega moment.
“I was with NASCAR in 2000 when Dale won the last No Bull 5. I don’t know who was most surprised by that; the 125,000 fans in the grandstands or the one guy that had Dale in the No Bull, because that meant he won a million dollars too. I think everyone had written him (Dale Earnhardt) off on that last restart, but that’s what Talladega is all about. You never know till the finish linewho’s going to win this race.”
Even prior to his time as president of Talladega Superspeedway, Helton said he enjoyed coming to races at Talladega. He recanted the tale of the 1981 Talladega 500 in which Ron Bouchard beat Darrell Waltrip to the finish line by a matter of inches.
“I remember one of the first races I came over here for, and it was Darrell Waltrip and Terry Labonte battling for the lead. It was pretty much one of those guys that was going to win the race, until all of a sudden here come Ron Bouchard out of nowhere. He ends up passing them by the time they get to the start/finish line and wins the race. That’s what I think Talladega is all about and every race is incredible.”
Race fans will have their opportunity to witness incredible racing at Talladega Superspeedway during the April 24-26 Aaron’s Dream Weekend. Tickets are available by calling 1-877-Go2-DEGA or visiting www.talladegasuperspeedway.com.
In 2009, Talladega Superspeedway proudly celebrates forty years of the most competitive racing in NASCAR. While the track has seen changes made to the cars that circle its high-banks, the surface that they race on and the grandstands that thousands of fans fill twice a year, one constant remains; Talladega Superspeedway is authentic NASCAR racing at its finest.
Race fans should make plans now to experience part of Talladega’s history in 2009 during the triple-header, Aaron’s Dream Weekend, April 24-26, featuring the ARCA RE/MAX Series, the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. For tickets, visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 1-877-Go2-DEGA. For our hearing impaired guests, please call TDD 1-866-ISC-TRAK (1-866-472-8725). Tickets also are available in person by visiting the Talladega Superspeedway Ticket Office from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. CDT, Monday- Friday.