‘Talladega Superspeedway: Fan at the Track’ is by one of our Fan4Racing crew, Tommy Craft as he recounts his first time at a Cup Series race.
After 26 years, I finally attended my first ever NASCAR race. Ever since I can remember. I have been watching NASCAR mostly every Sunday. For my 26th Birthday, I got to go to my favorite NASCAR track, Talladega Superspeedway.
Talladega Superspeedway: Fan at the Track
For years I cannot recall missing a single Daytona or Talladega race. The furthest I can remember back is the 2001 April and Fall Talladega races. On all the NASCAR video games, the first track I would race at is Talladega.
Sunday, my Fiancé Caitlin and I get to the track early that morning. She bought tickets for the finish line front row seats for my first-ever race. Our first stop after parking was the merchandise haulers. Of course, we picked up some gear. I quickly grabbed a William Byron tee shirt with that new rainbow scheme with a twist. My fiancé grabbed a tie-dye Talladega tee shirt. Unfortunately, the weather was bad so we also had to grab a poncho and some earplugs.
We then made our way down to our seats and watched the air titans dry the track. Those earplugs came in handy because the track dryers get pretty loud. We had a great view of the tri-oval, pit road, and the first turn.
Meeting Other Fans and Getting Lucky
Since we were at our seats early, a very nice fan gave us two extra tickets for the garage experience. At my very first race, I was lucky enough to go walk on and around my favorite track.
With the garage tickets, I got to stand on the finish line. All I could think about was the photo finishes and Scott Rigg’s flip back in the early to mid-2000’s right at the finish line.
More Surprises in the Garage
It starts to rain again, so we head down pit road to the new garage area. As I am walking to the garage, I am seeing the pit boxes and pit road. In the garage area, I am not paying attention and I turn around to a surprise. Bobby Allison and Red Farmer are sitting close to where I am standing. I still cannot believe I was that close to a NASCAR legend.
We continue to walk around the garage area and I get to see all the cars before they go on the track. I have always been a fan of paint schemes but the schemes in person are unreal. They look much better and are way more colorful in person versus how they look on TV, video games, and the die-cast.
On the way out of the garage area, I could see Kyle Petty’s ponytail as he was sitting on top of the pit box doing the pre-race coverage. Still cannot believe I got to go down pit road and see everything that I did.
Watching Driver Introductions
After that experience, we head back to our seats for driver introductions. I noted that Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Matt DiBenedetto, and Ryan Newman had the most cheers. The most boos went to Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Kurt Busch.
Rain, Rain, Causes a Delay
The race start was delayed for weather in the area. Then the cars finally hit the track. Hearing the cars fire up for the first time in person was awesome. Denny Hamlin revved it up by us on his way out of pit road. With one to go before the green, it showered, again. NASCAR moved the race to Monday.
Meeting Other Fan4Racing Crew Members
Andy Laskey and Mike Orzel were also attending the race. I meant to meet up with them on Sunday but I had no phone service in Alabama let alone Talladega Superspeedway. On Monday morning I gathered their seat info before I left for the track.
We got to the track early again on Monday and stopped by the merchandise haulers again and that time I got a Chase Elliott Hooters paint scheme tee shirt. We met up with Andy and Mike at their tri-oval seats before the race started. Andy also brought his father-in-law. We got in a quick chat and it was nice to finally meet the people I discuss NASCAR with on Fan4Racing Radio.
The Race at Talladega Finally Begins
Finally, the race started and it was sunny outside. They dropped the green flag and on the first lap the drivers came by in a pack. I will try to describe this with justice. It is so loud, fast, and just unbelievable. I thought the air titans were loud. The cars go by so fast too. TV does not do it justice at all. To make it even crazier the cars go by and are in the first turn, then a gust of wind hit us after the drivers went by just five to ten seconds ago. My fiancé even had little pieces of rubber get on her face after they would go by.
The banking in the first turn is unreal, with the drivers right on that wall. We could see drivers getting runs and taking shots at the lead. Every driver races so close together the whole time, bumping, and side drafting throughout the race.
I saw Justin Allgaier’s wreck on the tri-oval and his car came to a stop perfectly right in our view in front of pit road. Since Talladega is so big, I did not see any of the other wrecks. I had no view of the backstretch or the third turn really.
Another Rain Delay
Unfortunately, it started to rain again. NASCAR parked the cars on pit road and called the air titans back out. Fortunately, it was a short rain delay. The cars hit the track again and this time it was a race against the weather.
For all of the second stage, it was aggressive Talladega racing. Those last twenty laps of the segment were crazy. After the end of the second stage, it started to rain again, and by that point, Bubba Wallace had made his way to the lead. For my first-ever race, I got to witness history.
More NASCAR Races in My Future
All in all, it is definitely safe to say we will be attending more races. In fact, we are already talking about attending the Bristol night race in the fall of 2022. Talladega did not disappoint at all. I hope to go back there one day for another race. Just an unreal experience and I cannot wait to go to another NASCAR race.