Four times in his Hall of Fame career, Bobby Allison took the checkered flag at Talladega Superspeedway and made his way to Gatorade Victory Lane, the last being the spring race of 1986. Earlier this week, to kick off Phase II of Transformation – The Talladega Superspeedway Infield Project presented by Graybar, the leader of the famed “Alabama Gang” came back to the track’s current winner’s circle – the one he christened with that ‘86 victory - to tear it down.
With track Chairman Grant Lynch waving the green flag, Allison climbed aboard the cockpit of a backhoe and used its scoop to begin ripping up the checkered concrete floor that Chase Elliott drove across Sunday after the GEICO 500 as the final race winner in the same Victory Lane that saw Allison celebrate 33 years earlier.
“That was a good day for sure,” remembers Allison, who held off the quartet of Dale Earnhardt, Buddy Baker, Bobby Hillin Jr. and Phil Parsons that day in taking his final Talladega win. “Any time you could beat Dale and Buddy at Talladega, you stood proud, and the fact we got to go to what was then the new Victory Lane, it meant something.
“I’ve been in the cockpit of many vehicles, airplanes and machines, but today was a first for me on this type of excavating equipment. It’s pretty cool that I get to tear it down since I was the first to celebrate in it many years ago. For me, there’s memories in this victory lane, and for many other drivers and teams as well, but I am so glad to be here today to help start the demolition because it’s making way for incredible things the track has coming with the new Garage Experience and Transformation,” added Allison, whose son Davey was a frequent visitor to this winner’s circle (three Cup wins – 1987, ’89, ’92; one IROC win 1992) that is being taken down. A grand total of 79 drivers have made the trip to this particular victory lane from five different series, with Earnhardt leading at 12 (eight Monster Cup Series, three IROC and one NASCAR Xfinity Series).
Allison’s spirited maneuvering of the backhoe brought back memories from the past, and is just the beginning of what will be a huge summer of construction activity for the Talladega Garage Experience, which will allow fans to be immersed into the sport of NASCAR like never before (including access under the same roof where the race cars are being prepped by the race teams). It will feature “up-close” access, interactive attractions and enhanced amenities for fans, sponsors, teams and stakeholders in the iconic Talladega infield.
Set to open during the track’s fall doubleheader NASCAR Playoff weekend featuring the 1000Bulbs.com 500 for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and Sugarlands Shine 250 for the Gander Outdoors Truck Series, the Talladega Garage Experience will replace the current garage/pit area that stretches from the center of the Tri-Oval all the way down near the start-finish line. This week marks the beginning of many buildings being demolished, including the old-time scoring stand, which has stood for many years, as well as the current NASCAR Xfinity Series garage, the Sunoco fuel station, the Paddock Club, and part of the media center.
The approximately $50 million Transformation Infield Project presented by Graybar is part of International Speedway Corporation’s (Talladega’s parent company) long-term capital allocation plan and reinvestment into its major motorsports complexes.
Phase II features the following:
- Interactive Talladega Garage Experience (TGE): Grandstand and infield ticket holders who purchase a TGE pass will have close access via a fan viewing walkway to the teams, cars and inspection stations during race preparation in the new Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Garage
- New, modern Open Air Club (covered) with close-up viewing of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Garage
- New Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Garage (44 stalls)
- Wi-Fi presented by Xtreme Concepts in all areas of the Talladega Garage Experience
- Exclusive Social, engagement areas with Concessions/Souvenirs/Restrooms facilities, Guest Services Center & First Aid facility
- Driver/Personality appearances and entertainment programming
- Pit Road Club to enhance the experience for fans and corporate guests
- New Gatorade Victory Lane with fan up-close view in TGE
- Merchandise, Food & Beverage stands
- New tram route to deliver fans to the TGE
- Garage Suites with view into Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garages
- Expanded, Premium RV Camping along the Alabama Gang Superstretch with Power & Water hookups (more than 200)
- NASCAR Race Operations building and Broadcast booths high above Tri-Oval
- Infield road infrastructure, premium parking & utilities
- Renovation of Drivers Meeting area & Expansion/upgrades to media center
DLR Group is the architect of the entire project while Hoar Construction from Birmingham will spearhead Phase II. GT Grandstands (Plant City, FL) will construct the new Pit Road Club and the Race Operations. Fans can learn more about the project by visiting www.talladegasuperspeedway.com/transformation. For ticket information on the track’s NASCAR doubleheader Playoff weekend, and all things on Transformation and the Talladega Garage Experience, log onto www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 855-518-7223 (RACE).
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