A Look Back In Talladega History: Richard Childress Shares His Memories
Ask Richard Childress about his favorite racing and non-racing memories from Talladega Superspeedway and you’ll likely get this response: a chuckle, a grin and the words, “Well, the on-track ones I can talk about, but the off-track ones I don’t think I can, because… I like to have fun too.” Fortunately, Childress still has several stories he can share about his long and successful career at Talladega Superspeedway.
As a driver, Childress made 18 starts in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition, including the inaugural Talladega 500 in 1969.
“I can still remember coming here in 1969 and racing,” said Childress. Against a field of 36, he started 26th and finished 23rd.
Though he failed to record any wins at Talladega during his tenure as a driver, his career as an owner has been the polar opposite. With Dale Earnhardt driving, Childress amassed nine wins as an owner, placing him second on the all-time owner wins list. The time he spent with Earnhardt are some of his fondest Talladega memories.
“One of my favorite wins with Dale here was in 1984,” said Childress. “I think that was the first race we won together. Back in those days you could walk up to the press box after the race. Walking up through there after winning that big race with Dale….that was really special.
“And one time we won a race here and beat a whole pack of Fords. That was a special day because everyone had figured them to win. I think we beat five of them. Just so many great times at this racetrack, it’s just one of the most fun places.”
Perhaps his most special memory is of Earnhardt’s final win at Talladega, in which The Intimidator moved from 18th to first in the final five laps of the 2000 Winston 500.
“We were having a pretty heated conversation; if to pit or not to pit to take tires on. And Dale said, ‘you give me the tires and I’m going to win the race.’ So, he proved to us that he could do it. Him coming up through (the pack) and winning, it was special.”
Childress said the fans at Talladega and their love of the sport enhances the excitement even veteran drivers feel on race day.
“The people down here in Alabama are the greatest fans, I think, in the country. The race fans; the race fans in Alabama and people that come to this racetrack, come to see one of the greatest shows I think you can see in NASCAR. I think just the fans themselves get into it so much that it gets the drivers and everybody else excited. I know it’s one of my favorite racetracks to come to because, you know, watching the cars run, feeling the excitement and with drafting you never know what’s going to come up through the next corner.”
To experience the excitement at Talladega Superspeedway, 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.
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