Wednesday, December 28, 2016

TMC Racing Stories: Talladega 2

The eventual co-founders of the Schaefer Hall of Fame hit Talladega for the 1991 summer race. The weekend was a return trip for me but the first Dega experience for Philly.

For the most part, my previous trips to the track served me well. We talked our way into the camping area behind turn two as I'd done before despite not having tickets in hand. On race morning, we also moved the car to just outside the camping area behind the backstretch. I'd parked in the same place for three or four races. The spot made for a pretty easy, post-race getaway after leaving the backstretch GA seats.

On this particular day, however, the spot was a bad call. We made it to the car and began a slow crawl down what was then a gravel road behind the back stretch through the throng of Talladega loonies.

As we got closer to turn three with a plan of getting to Speedway Boulevard, traffic flared to three or four makeshift - and gridlocked - lanes.

We soon realized the problem. Track officials had opened the crossover gate allowing cars and motorhomes to leave the infield. They did so with zero staff directing traffic at ground zero where the perpendicular flows of traffic intersected.

Once a couple of motorhomes eased their way through the cars, it was a bit like a procession of elephants. Several cars forced the issue by jumping between the vehicles leaving the infield. Zero progress.  

Finally, one good ol' boy had seen enough. Shirtless but with a beer in hand, scrawny chest puffed out, and middle finger extended, he made his way between two rows of cars to voice his displeasure at the column of campers.

The door slowly opened to one of them and out stepped an occupant. Giving the drunk redneck his due, he immediately recognized who it was.

He ran up to Bobby Allison, put his arm around him, flipped his scowl to a big grin, and started hollering at his crew somewhere back in traffic "It's Bobby Allison man! Bobby Allison!"

Allison was very calm about the encounter. He whispered something in the dude's ear and went back inside his motorhome. A split-second later, the guy went into Moses mode to part the seas. He directed cars to halt so Allison could continue - presumably to the neighboring airport for a quick flight home.

Once Bobby was rolling again, the self-designated traffic control official strutted back to where he began exclaiming "Bobby Allison y'all. F'n Bobby Allison."



  1. This may be the best "Alabama Gang" story I've read!

  2. One year leaving Dega backstretch we were directed towards airport where we blended with AIRCRAFT on a taxiway. At an upcoming intersection we were directed left to Speedway Blvd. while aircraft proceeded to a runway. That was an odd sensation.

  3. Chase, I can identify with your exiting problems. Attending all the races I did at tracks all over, I can attest to Talladega being a nightmare. Charlotte and Daytona quickly spring to mind as awful exiting problems. Took us over 4 hours to get out of the infield at Charlotte back in the 80s and then another two hours to the highway. Daytona once sent us down a backroad with no end. Finally we saw a sign directing us to I-95 and then it was another 10 or so miles to the interstate. We actually finally got on I-95 North at the Melbourne exit. Look at a map and see how far they sent us down the backroads. I have always applauded Darlington for ease of exit. Happy New Year Chase from Tim.