A Look Back In Talladega History: There At The Beginning
Talladega Superspeedway holds a special place in the heart of Steve Young. And while this Steve Young didn’t win any Super Bowls, he did serve on the first two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams to win at Talladega Superspeedway. In 1969, Young served on Richard Brickhouse’s crew that won the inaugural Talladega 500, then in 1970 he gassed the car for Pete Hamilton who won the Alabama 500.
In Young’s day, pit crews weren’t comprised of the highly-specialized individuals they are today. Instead, they were excellent multi-taskers, skilled in all avenues of crew work.
“When we worked the races, it was nothing like they got now,” said Young. “We were able to do what we had to get done. I think some of the teams today probably don’t even understand what went on back then.”
For Young, just showing up to the new 2.66 mile superspeedway in 1969 was an adventure.
“It just gave you a funny feeling being there. You would look and look and see more and more racetrack. It was almost like you were dreaming that there was something that big.
“Finally, I just had to go ‘ok, where’s the garage area’ and I walked around till I finally found it. From there, I said ‘well where’s the start/finish line’. Once I finally found that, it felt like it was a mile and a half from the garage.”
Young said he remembers vividly the nerves he felt during that first race at Talladega.
“When I working on Brickhouse’s car, I was in charge of watching the left front during pitstops. We had told him (Brickhouse) to set a pace and save tires and we would just see what happens. Richard was pretty good, but we were still all on pins and needles.”
Unfortunately, while the nerves lasted all race, the celebration of victory didn’t last long for Young and the crew.
“When he won, I remember they took the car real quick and we didn’t even get our pictures made or anything.”
Fortunately, Young’s second trip to Talladega allowed for more of a victory celebration.
“When we won with Hamilton’s car, Maurice (Petty) had asked me to gas the car for him. It was a lot of fun. We were real proud when Pete won. I was proud, Petty was proud and Pete was proud. Of course, I’ve always been proud win or lose, but I always went to the racetrack to win.”
And win he did.
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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