Horns were honking and the RVs were rolling through the new Turn 3 Oversized Vehicle Tunnel at Talladega Superspeedway Wednesday as NASCAR drivers Jeffrey Earnhardt and Chase Briscoe assisted in the ribbon cutting ceremony as part of the “official” Grand Opening for thousands of fans to enter the track’s iconic infield.
Joining long-time track Chairman Grant Lynch to help kick off the track’s race week for an action-packed tripleheader this weekend, Briscoe and Earnhardt proceeded to lead the extended trail of infield campers through the new tunnel, which is the initial phase of Transformation – The Talladega Superspeedway Infield Project presented by Graybar. Briscoe drove the official Ford Edge ST Pace Car, followed by Earnhardt in a Toyota Tundra truck, with John Ray’s, patriotic Big Rig, a tradition at the 2.66-mile venue during the National Anthem in all pre-race ceremonies, in tow. Once inside, the trio greeted a host of fans who made their way into the mammoth track.
Earnhardt, the grandson of 10-time record Talladega winner Dale Earnhardt Sr., and Briscoe will both be competing in Saturday’s (April 27) MoneyLion 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race while Earnhardt will contend in Sunday’s GEICO 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event (April 28) for Xtreme Concepts Racing where he will make his 2019 debut.
“The new tunnel makes it way more convenient not only for the teams but especially for the race fans,” said Briscoe, in his first full-time season behind the wheel of the No. 98 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing. “To me, Talladega is already the best fan experience….when you come here you can hang out, it’s just a good time, and now for all the improvements that we’re seeing it’s just going to make it even better. I’m looking forward to coming back in the fall to see the complete renovation (the completion of the Transformation Infield Project). The tunnel is a huge deal and a big part of that too, so I’m looking forward to coming back in the fall as well and seeing it all done.”
“I think it’s incredible,” said Earnhardt, whose best finish in three 2019 starts in the Xfinity Series is a sixth at Atlanta. “For the fans, this is going to be incredible, whether you might have trouble getting here and you get here late, now you can just drive on in. It’s only going to continue to make the fan experience that much better. I’m real excited about it. I know us on the team side are going to be excited about it and I know the fans are going to love it as well.”
The new tunnel, which is more than 28 foot wide and 16 foot high, is capable of allowing fans’ large recreational vehicles as well as race team haulers to enter and exit the track simultaneously with ease. It will be open 24 hours this weekend.
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. The culmination of Transformation will occur this October and will allow fans to be immersed into the sport of NASCAR with the one-of-a-kind Talladega Garage Experience, which will feature “up-close” access, interactive attractions and enhanced amenities for fans, sponsors, teams and stakeholders in the iconic Talladega infield.
Fans can learn more about the project by visiting www.talladegasuperspeedway.com/transformation. For ticket information on the track’s tripleheader weekend, featuring Friday’s General Tire 200 (April 26), the MoneyLion 300 or the GEICO 500, log onto www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 855-518-7223 (RACE).