On an unassuming stretch of land suited for soybean farming located next to a couple of abandoned airport runways, crews constructed the biggest, fastest, and most competitive superspeedway in the world- Talladega Superspeedway.
Since Alabama International Motor Speedway (as it was called until 1989) opened its gates in September of 1969, the track has surpassed every initial expectation in terms of sheer size, speed, and competition.
See below to learn more about NASCAR’s biggest and baddest track.
Talladega, AL emerged as the top choice among several possible sites in the Southeast, with the main criteria for selection being the availability of land, access to the interstate system, and a population base of at least 20 million people within 300 miles. Anniston insurance executive Bill Ward, a racecar driver and fan himself, helped NASCAR and International Speedway Corporation founder William H.G. (Bill) France find the land in Alabama following a casual conversation with France in Daytona in the mid-1960s.
Ward found what he thought was the perfect site in north Talladega County near an airport that the U.S. Government had sold to the City of Talladega after World War II. He set up a meeting with then-Talladega Mayor James Hardwick and other city officials, and in a restaurant in Anniston in 1966, France got the group to consider the idea of putting a major track on the site. After a trip to the Firecracker 400 in Daytona to observe first-hand the potential economic impact, the group was sold.
Several obstacles had to be overcome, including financing. With France as the guiding force, however, construction began on the 2,000-acre site on May 23, 1968, with the first race being the 'Bama 400 Grand Touring race on Saturday, September 13, 1969. Ken Rush drove his Camaro to Victory Lane in that event. The next day, Richard Brickhouse won the first Grand National (now the NASCAR Cup Series) race, the Talladega 500 (now the traditional Fall race), edging Jim Vandiver and Ramo Stott.
Talladega Superspeedway is on Speedway Boulevard, which runs parallel to Interstate 20. The track is 40 miles east of Birmingham, Ala. at Exit 168 and 95 miles west of Atlanta, Ga. at Exit 173.
Built in 1969, Talladega Superspeedway’s property now covers about 3,000 acres, including the track site and parking areas. The infield area is 247 acres.
TRACK SIZE 2.66 mile tri-oval course TRACK WIDTH 48-feet wide, with an apron that is an additional 12 feet in width TURNS 1-2 33° banking TURNS 3-4 33° banking TRI-OVAL 16.5° banking FRONTSTRETCH LENGTH 4,300 feet ALABAMA GANG SUPERSTRETCH (BACKSTRETCH) LENGTH 4,000 feet
Pit Road length: 1,730 feet from the entrance to exit 44 stalls: 30 feet by 64 feet. The area behind the wall of each pit stall: 30 feet by 21 feet.
There are four NASCAR Cup Series Garages in the Talladega Garage Experience. Each structure has 11 bays each, for a total of 44 bays. The NASCAR Xfinity & Camping World Truck Series garage at Talladega Superspeedway is the old Cup Series garage. The ARCA Menards Series Paddock is an 18,000-square-foot paved lot located behind the Talladega Garage Experience.
The scoring tower located in the track’s infield is 148’ tall and displays the positions of all of the cars on the track. The first 10 positions during a race are always displayed on the tower, with positions 11-40 rotating on the bottom two spaces. There are 7,440 light bulbs used for the scoring position displays. The power it takes to run the scoring pylon throughout a race day also could power about five 3-bedroom homes for the same period of time.