Talladega Super Speedway
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Back in April 2001 I took a few laps around the Talladega Super Speedway as a passenger. What an experience that was! Rounding turn one, up near the wall, I was thinking how in the world can those NASCAR drivers stand this at nearly two hundred miles an hour, four wide. And with other cars inches from your bumper! It has to be a special "calling".
Actually, I took my first laps around the track back in the early 1970's. However, it was from about 1,000 feet up in a helicopter. Don't recall the exact year, but it was the first time the track was repaved. What a sight that was! Can you imagine laying asphalt on that high banked track! Huge, very huge, cranes outside the track had cables attached to pull and lower the paving equipment.
I originally registered for the Jarret/Farve Driving Adventure for August 10, 2001 but was rained out. I did get to complete the driver's school, tour the track with my instructor to learn the proper groove and complete the safety meeting. And finally on September 29, 2001 I had the opportunity to drive my laps. I drove Robert Pressley's 2000 Jasper Motors car number 77. The instructor drives in a lead car and they pretty much control how fast you can go, as determined by their perception of your ability to drive at a high rate of speed. You're instructed to stay back about four car lengths and follow in the same groove as the pace car. There appears to be a little discrimination toward us older folks. I had observed the lead car earlier and they tended to hold us older guys back. At first I had thought some of the older guys were backing off but I soon discovered that as I closed in on the lead car I frequently had to brake, which I did not want to do. It affected my average speed which was only 142.56 MPH. I was very surprised at how comfortable I felt in the high banked turns. My six foot four frame, however, was not a very comfortable fit in the racecar. My head rubbed against the roof, my size 14 feet had difficulty with the small spoon sized pedals, and the seat was pretty snug around my rib cage. Visability is also poor for a tall person. But all in all it was a very pleasant and wonderful experience. One I will not soon forget! The Driving Experience was discontinued for a while at the Talladega Superspeedway due to the costly insurance required, however, it is available once more and stays booked well in advance.
Me Below Attaching the Steering Wheel in Robert Pressley's Car.
Ingress and Egress is Difficult When You Are 6' 4''.
This is an Action Racing Collectables replica (1:24 scale)of the same car that I drove at Talladega.Next is a picture of three of my nine Grandsons (Christopher, Matthew, and James) who came to watch and got a thrill out of being on the pit wall. (Oh, I also have one lovely Granddaughter, Elizabeth) They also had an opportunity to ride three laps around the track at over 100 MPH in a Passenger Van. Two of them had played a soccer game that morning and we went straight to the track from the game. Good thing we are less than an hour from the track.
(picture taken on the hood of my daughter's Mustang Convertible)
NOTE: Rusty Wallace did some testing at Talladega in 2004, mostly to test new communication equipment at high speeds. He removed the restrictor plate to add some speed. He hit 228 MPH down the back. The old record was 212.809 set over fifteen years ago by Bill Elliott. Rusty says that with some tweaking he could go probably 235. Unfortunately, there is no way they could race at those speeds so keep looking for the restrictor plates. Oh, the communication equipment works great at that speed!
And now a look back into the past. I have a couple of pictures I took at the Daytona Race Track in 1956. This was before the day of super speedways and the Daytona race took place on the beach. One two mile Straightaway was on the beach, then turned through an infield of a baseball park, then down Highway A-1-A(closed to traffic of course)that ran along the beachfront, and finally another turn back to the beach. My hotrod club, Strokers of Birmingham, ran a drag strip in Helena, Alabama in the 1950's and some of the proceeds were used to attend Speed Week at Daytona. The pictures below were taken on the 1956 trip. I am the slender guy in the first picture and the other two guys were also Strokers. Miller High Life was the beer of the day! You can see that we had a front row seat, as cars were parked right on the edge of the track. Sometimes when there was a spinout the car would go into the surf. Severty-eight cars started the race, including some of the early NASCAR pioneers like Tim Flock (who won), Fonty Flock, Cotton Owens, Buck Baker, Curtis Turner, Junior Johnson, Ralph Moody, Jim Paschal, and Charley Scott (the first Black driver at Daytona). There were lots of crashes and cars flipping but 42 cars were still running at the end. The race was shortened by several laps due to the the incoming high tide. We still managed to get our car stuck and had to have help pulling it out of the thick wet sand There was some rioting that year that lasted way into the night and early morning. Many arrests were made. I am in the process of making another web link with more informatin about that and about the race in general. What an event that was, way back then!
Some of my old Stroker Hot Rod Club Membership Cards I Recently Found
Courtesy Card Members Presented to Motorists They Assisted
© 2001-2008 jd@jdweeks. com
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