NASCAR is on its way to a place where it’s been racing for more than 40 years: Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. The track has been roaring since it opened as Alabama International Motor Speedway in 1969, and we’ve got everything you need to know before you get there on Sunday.
1. This place might be cursed
Are you aware of “The Talladega Jinx?” Well, depending on who you talk to, the track’s got some seriously weird stuff going on around it, possibly because it was built on an Indian burial ground or because the entire valley was cursed by a shaman after the local Native American tribe was driven out.
This is all unproven, of course, but we’ve seen drivers up and leave their vehicles because they claimed to have heard voices (Bobby Isaac, 1973), cars sabotaged (1974) and those are just the less creepy stories. So if you happen to be superstitious, you may either want to watch this race at home, or carry around an extra rabbit’s foot for good luck.
2. These folks are really serious about their fires
Talladega is the only place where we’ve seen an actual instruction not to cut firewood from speedway property. If you happen to be carrying a saw for your tailgate, you’re going to be disappointed.
The speedway would also like to remind you to only burn wood and paper in any campfires. We’re not sure who’s been throwing glass, aluminum and metal into their fires, but apparently enough people have that there needs to be a warning about that, too. Basically, respect the trees and the grounds in general is what we’re saying here.
3. They’ll provide the food, though
This week could be your most low-stress tailgate yet. If you order one of Talladega’s Party Packs, you’ll have all the food delivered to you with explicit reheating instructions. These packs can feed 10, 20 or 40 people and feature hot dogs, chicken wings and tri-tip.
You have to order them in advance via email, though; so if you’re looking for a culinary wave-around this week, you’d better get on that.
4. This is a great event for college students
Talladega makes a very strong effort to appeal to the college student market. They have their own subsection on the speedway website, where students can purchase tickets for the low price of $19 or ticket packages that also include admission to the Saturday night infield concert (this year courtesy of Chase Rice) and parking.
If you’re in that demographic, this is a really great opportunity to round up some classmates and enjoy a night out for not that much more than you’d spend on dinner and drinks anyway. You can tailgate in your new parking spot, catch the race plus a free concert. What’s not to love?
5. What works arriving may not work when you’re leaving
If there’s one piece of advice we would give you above all else, it’s to read the traffic and parking page on Talladega’s website. It has 13 different important facts you need to know about traffic, including that some of the tram routes that are running before the race will not be in service after the race. It’s entirely possible that you will need to have two separate plans for entering and exiting the track.
The GEICO 500 takes place at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, May 3 at 1 p.m. ET.