During a recent visit to Talladega Superspeedway to witness the construction efforts of Transformation – The Talladega Superspeedway Infield Project presented by Graybar, Joie Chitwood III, the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the track’s parent company – International Speedway Corporation (ISC) – had one word to describe what he saw.
“Amazing!” exclaimed Chitwood of the project that will be completed for the venue’s NASCAR Playoffs doubleheader weekend, Oct. 11-13. “It’s just amazing to see how much work has been done. It’s truly impressive. It’s amazing to think that so much work has occurred since the spring race. And, at the end of the day, I am so excited for the experiences that our fans are going to enjoy.”
Phase II of the Transformation Infield Project presented by Graybar began immediately after the checkered flag for the GEICO 500 in late April. The culmination of the $50 million endeavor takes place when fans arrive in the fall for the new Talladega Garage Experience, which will allow fans of all ages to be immersed into the exciting sport of NASCAR at its most competitive track like never before with “locker room” access.
The Talladega Garage Experience, with all of its contents currently in the middle of a construction frenzy, will stretch from the center of the Tri-Oval down near the start-finish line. It will feature a host of activities and destinations, including more than 140,000 square feet of social and engagement areas, a new ‘old-school style’ Gatorade Victory Lane (ironically this upcoming race weekend will be the iconic track’s 50th anniversary) and a 35,000-square-foot Open Air Social Club, where fans will be just a few steps away and “up-close” from the fan viewing walkway, which is under the same roof where the race cars are being prepped by the race teams.
“You know when I think about the great things about NASCAR and the sport here at Talladega, access is the key,” added Chitwood, who during his career in motorsports has also overseen Daytona International Speedway and ISC’s largest redevelopment endeavor to date – the $400 million DAYTONA Rising project, Chicagoland Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway – all which host NASCAR events. “The closer we can get fans, the better experience they can have. So we’ve learned through our (fan oriented) projects at our (ISC) tracks in Phoenix (ISM Raceway, AZ) and Richmond (Richmond Raceway, VA) with a new garage opportunity where fans can actually walk inside the structures and see the cars.
“Well what’s better than that? Let’s add a social element to it. So, we’ve created this bar social experience in the middle of the Garage Experience so our fans can congregate, enjoy each other’s company, celebrate all of the great things at a NASCAR race and literally look at the teams working on the cars in the garage.”
The Open Air Club, which is 300 feet deep and 265 feet wide, will be lined on both sides by two garages (each 100 foot wide) that will house the top 22 drivers (11 in each) in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The area will be complete with an array of ample, comfortable seating, a huge bar and a huge 41-foot diagonal video screen.
“We think about the stars that made the sport what it is, but the current stars that we have now are fantastic whether it’s a Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick. The up-and-comers, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, the fact that you can be in the Talladega Garage Experience, and literally be five feet from them as they are getting in and out of their car when they’re parked in that garage is going to be an overwhelming experience. The photos that will be captured, maybe you could get an autograph or two, this will get our fans closer to the driver than ever before, and will really add to all the great things that Talladega already does.
“There’s no other experience like this on the circuit, and nothing beats the size of this. Twelve hundred people can fit in this (Open Air Social Club) bar. This interactive garage experience will be the best on the circuit. No other NASCAR racetrack can actually offer our fans this kind of atmosphere and experience, and as we know, at Talladega, the size matters, and you can tell with these structures everything here is big. It’s going to be the biggest on the circuit.”
For every fan who purchases a Talladega Garage Experience admission, they will receive FREE Wi-Fi presented by Xtreme Concepts, Inc., and be treated to incredible $4 or less Value-Priced Concessions (with the exception of the $9 Big One Meatball). The up-close access doesn’t stop in the garage bay walkways either as fans will be able to witness the spoils of victory up close with the uniquely designed Gatorade Victory Lane. Other amenities inside the Experience include a Kids Zone, Watch Zone, Beer Garden, new restrooms, concession and souvenir stands, as well as a new Guest Services center.
Admission for adults for Sunday in the Garage Experience is $89 in advance (race week $95) and $39 for kids 12 and under. There are also special advance-priced offers for military members and first responders ($60 for Sunday). Full weekend options and 2-Day packages are available as well. Each Talladega Garage Experience pass must accompany a grandstand or infield admission ticket for that day’s on-track event.
In addition to the Talladega Garage Experience, Phase II of the Transformation Infield Project presented by Graybar also includes special infield parking areas, as well as the new Alabama Gang Superstretch RV infield reserved lot (complete with electrical and water hookups), a new Race Operations Tower, plus the new Pit Road Club, which towers over the exit of pit road, that offers 600 guests an array of opportunities, including Talladega Garage Experience admissions and food and beverages. Phase I, which consisted of the new Turn 3 Oversized Vehicle Tunnel, as well as the Finish Line Premium RV area (inside near the start-finish line), was completed prior to the April race weekend.
Lots of fans are anxious for Talladega’s October weekend, including Chitwood.
“When I think about Talladega, it is a great party,” added Chitwood. “Whether you’re camping on the property, enjoying the “Big One on the Blvd.” (fan event on Friday night) or the Saturday Night Concert, whether it’s the great racing with the unbelievable passing (on track), and now, an experience that gets you closer to the cars, closer to the drivers than any other racetrack on the circuit…..Boy, I tell you what, there’s going to be no experience that is going to match Talladega.”
The Transformation Infield Project presented by Graybar is part of ISC’s long-term capital allocation plan and reinvestment into its major motorsports complexes. DLR Group is the architect of the entire project while Hoar Construction (Birmingham, AL) continues to spearhead Phase II. GT Grandstands (Plant City, FL) is constructing the Race Operations tower, which, too, continues to see much progression high above the Tri-Oval, as well as the Pit Road Club Suites.
Fans can learn more about the project and view the progress 24/7 via the construction cam by visiting www.talladegasuperspeedway.com/transformation. For ticket information on the track’s NASCAR doubleheader playoffs weekend for the Sugarlands Shine 250 (NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series) on Saturday, Oct. 12, and the 1000Bulbs.com 500 (Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series), and all things on Transformation and the Talladega Garage Experience, log onto www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 855-518-7223 (RACE).