Those Talladega Nights

Part Mardi Gras…part trailer park…that’s the best way to
describe my experience. I’ve just
returned from a weekend spent camping outside the Talladega super speedway. The race was rained out but I did get to see
the last 6 laps on an airport TV in Dallas

…just
in time to see my favorite driver Jimmie Johnson win yet another race.

Visiting Talladega is something that is now “checked off the list” of things I’d like to do before
I die. The Louvre just moved up a notch
now that I’ve experienced Those Talladega
Nights

 

The camp

I didn’t just get tickets to see the race, I communed with
250,000 other red blooded American’s who are not afraid to wear tank tops and
say what’s on their minds. My campground
was slightly upscale (you had to pay about $130 for it). It provided grass on top of the red mud,
port-a-potties that were cleaned daily (not early enough in the morning for us
early risers), and an easy walk to the track. I was lucky enough to be invited by some friends and colleagues who
provided my ticket, and the “couch” to sleep on in Uncle Bubba’s motor home (No
names have been changed to protect the innocent or enhance this story’s
appeal. He’s really called Bubba.) We ate hot wings, smoked sausages, and drank
copious light beers with brands I’ve not seen since my fraternity days and
below poverty level annual income. I
made the time to enjoy 4 cigars during my stay which pleased me greatly. In
Alabama,
cigar smoking is still allowed outdoors at campsites with 300 campfires burning
simultaneously. Try that in California. There are multiple campgrounds around with
names like “Sodom
and Gomorrah” and “Wazoo”. The free sites resembled a blend of Mardi
Gras and Spring Break. I saw a few
things there that I’m still trying to forget….and about every 15 minutes on
cue, someone would scream “wooooooooooooooooooo…….’Dagaaaaaaaaaaa” in their
best party voice.

The Track

Talladega Super speedway is immense. At 2.66 miles, it’s the largest of the NASCAR
tracks. Since I’d been to California speedway (2.0
miles around) I had a good idea of the scope of this track. It’s THAT MUCH Bigger to behold. During our 3 hours at the track, we endured
on and off rain and wind gusts that probably hit 30mph. Small beer coolers are allowed, so literally
everyone there had a can in hand. (authors
note: I don’t think I saw a single
regular full strength beer the entire weekend. All of it was Light beer. The volume of consumption must be the
mitigating factor to help amass the incredible mid-sections I was forced to
endure. No sexism here. Beer bellies do not discriminate between man
and woman.)
People all around were
joking, laughing, and sparring about their driver being the best and Jeff
Gordon being a (fill in foul words here).

 
The People

This will be my favorite section to write because it comes
from the heart. The people at these camp
sites around the race in Alabama are good people. I saw only a few raging
mullets (One guy was a ringer for Dog the Bounty Hunter) but there were plenty
of red necks and tank tops. One hirsute
gentleman could have actually been the Sasquatch in the famous video we’ve all
seen on the Discovery Channel. Aside
from the visual spectacle, these are some of the nicest people you’ll
meet. No one treated me different even
though I talked funny and like Jimmie Johnson. Through all of the “Tony Stewart sucks” calls, no one got rowdy or took
offense. Everyone kept their sense of
humor and good nature. Typically, a case
of beer per person does not inspire such passivity…but Talladega Nights seemed to bring out the best in everyone.

Next stop is California speedway for sushi and chardonnay.

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