TALLADEGA, Ala. (WIAT) — I had the opportunity to take a ride around the superspeedway before this weekend’s big race. Russel Branham, vice president of consumer marketing and communications of Talladega Superspeedway, was my driver.
Walking to a Talladega racecar and buckling up with nothing but the wide-open superspeedway ahead, the adrenaline starts pumping. It’s really happening. They say this is a place to escape reality, but this experience was as real as it gets. Taking off took me by surprise, but of course, there’s no such thing as a slow start in racing.
Gravity glued me to my seat as we zipped around the biggest enclosed circuit in NASCAR.
The saying goes, if you’re not first, you’re last. from tire tracks to banged-up guard rails, there’s proof all over the track that the drivers who compete here are in it to win it. They’re whipping around the corners at more than 200 miles per hour with mere inches to spare.
Branham said, “ [We’re] nose to tail and side by side and so one person makes one slight mistake and it can cause a complete uproar and it can take out anywhere from two, four, six, 12, 15 cars.”
Perhaps the most jarring part of our ride wasn’t when he had the pedal to the metal, but, rather, when Branham slowed down.
That’s when I realized the turns we just took are at such a tilt that the outside of the track is a full five stories higher than the inside!
Branham explained, “This is 33 degrees of banking. We’re the steepest [track] in NASCAR. Daytona is 31 [degrees].”
When you’re out there on the track, you feel the rush and it’s not hard to imagine, hundreds of thousands of people cheering you on and think about all the drivers who’ve taken those turns before you.