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Time to make real changes at the Talladega Super Speedway

By admin | October 19, 2013

By Richard Allen

I only saw the final four laps of Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race from the Talladega Super Speedway. That was enough.

The three-and-a-half  laps leading up to the finish provided some great racing as three pairs of trucks raced in three-wide formation while they toured around the high-banked 2.66 mile track. Unfortunately, the final half-mile or so saw the race transform from exciting to horrifying as trucks spun, rolled and slammed through the tri-oval portion of the massive facility.

If this were a one time thing, it could possibly be looked at as an oddity or a departure from the norm. Instead, however, these type of wrecks are in fact the norm on this track. As a matter of fact, it would be somewhat difficult to recall a race held at Talladega in which there wasn’t at least one multi-car crash, often involving cars slamming hard into each other and/or a wall as well as flipping over.

At some point, the realization has to be made that it is the track that’s responsible for the mayhem. And this is coming from a writer who has in the past written columns on how exciting the racing at Talladega can be. But, I have come to that realization mentioned earlier in this paragraph.

Some who read this may want to point to restrictor plates as the cause of the trouble. The plates are merely the offspring of the track. If the track wasn’t shaped as it is, there would be no need for the plates.

Some who read this might be tempted to blame the drivers. But many of those who blame the drivers for the wrecks are the same ones who would scold drivers for being boring and not making more daring moves.

And all of this stated so far does not even address the fact that there was a point on the track where the accident occurred during the truck race that did not have SAFER barriers in place. Kyle Busch slammed hard into a portion of the wall near the start/finish line that was not equipped with the energy absorbing protectors.

I’m not sure what the changes to the track need to be, but there needs to be some sort of change before the worst happens.

Some have suggested lowering the banking. I’m not sure that’s the answer because it would have cars roaring into a turn at near 200mph with a wall looming right in front of them without banking to assist the turning of the car. Also, simply lowering the banking would run the risk of crating a track similar to Pocono, and that wouldn’t exactly make for an exciting show.

Some say to remove the plates all together. In and of itself, that’s just ridiculous. Cars would be going around the track at 230-240mph. Bobby Allison proved that it doesn’t take speeds anywhere near that high to have a disaster.

Another possibility might be to turn the facility into a road course. This might be the best option as this form of racing seems to produce some of the best competition in NASCAR during this era in which clean air is king on many oval and ‘cookie cutter’ tracks.

And don’t bother arguing that any move to change the track will hurt attendance. Anyone who says such a thing has not looked very closely at any of the recent races held at the track. There appear to be more empty seats than filled ones in the events from the track that I’ve seen, so what would making a change hurt in terms of attendance?

I’m not sure what the answer is for the Talladega Super Speedway other than there needs to be consideration into a drastic change of some kind. What the track offers up now is exciting…until the next ‘big one’ happens.

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16 Responses to “Time to make real changes at the Talladega Super Speedway”

  1. Danny from Talladega Says:
    October 19th, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    I’m so tired of hearing people like you whining about Talladega Super Speedway. The track has been that way since 1969. It’s the best race of the year. I don’t hear anybody trying to come up with ideas to change Daytona. Just quit your belly aching bro. If any drivers are scared to get out there then stay at home

  2. Ray Says:
    October 20th, 2013 at 1:00 am

    Great article. State the obvious and offer no solution. Was it worth the time to write it? Another stupid, boring rant that goes no where.

  3. Kyle Says:
    October 20th, 2013 at 2:56 am

    Attendance hurts because of the price of hotels IVO (in vicinity of) the track. I understand hiking up the prices a bit during race weekend, as this is probably the best opportunity for said hotels to make money. The problem is that the prices are unreasonable. Unless you know someone who races, you honestly can’t afford the prices at these hotels, forcing you to find hotels much further from the track, which in turn drives fans away from even going to the race. It’s much more cost effective to watch the race from home than pay huge amounts to stay near the track for the race or pay huge amounts in gas to get from hotels stationed far/further away from the track than desired. I don’t mind the racing at the super speedways (Dega & Daytona), because its only two tracks (total of 4 races) a year. It adds a different dimension, just like the road courses do. Yes, it’s dangerous, but any race is dangerous. I agree that a change or some changes need to be made to reduce the risk to the drivers when it comes to “The Big One,” but I don’t think it means you change the track. I say NASCAR continues to focus on making the SAFER barrier a priority all around these super speedway tracks, toughen the fencing, etc. But don’t change the race itself. These are the best drivers in the world, show-casing their talents week in and week out, on different style tracks. If you take the super speedways unique element away from the circuit, you restrict the variety of racing that fans and racers get to experience and challenge each other on. Having been to the last two Daytona 500’s and CokeZero 400’s, I’m a huge fan of the fast-paced racing. Having grown up 15 miles from Watkins Glen and attending 9 of the last 10 races at The Glen, I’m a huge fan of the different dynamic that road course racing brings to the series. NASCAR needs to continue to improve the safety for drivers and fans, but keep the tracks and style of racing similar. If NASCAR needs to change anything outside of that…it’s the tires. It’s ridiculous that 2 tires vs. 4 tires doesn’t even make much of - if any - difference these days. That’s laughable.

  4. Bill Says:
    October 20th, 2013 at 4:31 am

    You may have invented the ultimate term! It’s not “clean air” now it is “King Air”!! My crackpot Talladega idea is to move the pits to the tri oval, since most all racing is in the pits now. The fans could heckle the crews and maybe even throw garbage at them. And the race cars would make a sharp left turn down what is the pit road now for the front stretch. One benefit might be the interstate like right hand exit to the new pit lane.

  5. Richard Allen Says:
    October 20th, 2013 at 5:36 am

    People who say things like “If any drivers are scared to get out there then stay at home” are the same ones who claim that the NFL and NCAA should never changes the head first tackling rules because “it’s part of the game” even if it leaves players with life destroying injuries.

    Of course the drivers are going to show up. And racing is, by its very nature, dangerous but that doesn’t mean people should be put in grave danger just for your entertainment.

  6. Richard Allen Says:
    October 20th, 2013 at 5:41 am

    The racing at Talladega and Daytona is exciting, even if it’s manufactured excitement. There’s no question about that.

    But there has to come a point in which the danger involved overrides the excitement.

    The real shame is that NASCAR has to rely on tracks such as these, with gimmick restrictor plates, because the racing at most other tracks is little more than a high speed parade.

  7. Ken Says:
    October 20th, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Rich, my comments are going to be greeted with anger for sure, but, here they are. First of all, about your comment about drivers being afraid of the speed should stay home reminds me of a driver who said that about Jeff Burton when he (Burton) first raised awareness about the speeds. Where is that driver today?

    As for Talladega and Daytona, like you, I don’t know what the answer is. Personally, I hate both these tracks, especially since Bobby Allison, Neil Bonnett, and Carl Edwards nearly ended up in the stands at Talladega (although most people say Edwards got what he deserved), and most recently, Kyle Larson’s near trip into the stands at Daytona. The drivers putting themselves at risk is one thing. Putting the fans at risk is another. Saying that, I firmly believe there are many who love these two tracks will watch with baited breath, drooling with anticipation, as they wait, hoping for the big one. I am not one of them, and will not be watching today. (I didn’t get to see the truck race yesterday because SPEED had the Pettite LeMans race on from Road Atlanta, and didn’t play the truck race until midnight. Yes, we still have SPEED up here in Canada!)

    Knock the banks down? Plow the tracks under and rebuild them in a different configuration and size? Who knows what the answer is. Lets hope it doesn’t take a driver (or fan) fatality to figure out that answer.

  8. Kurt Fan Forever Says:
    October 20th, 2013 at 9:12 am

    Simple, wholesale changes in cubic inch displacement! It’s time to slow the cars down at all the tracks! Parade racing needs to stop; it’s not exciting. By drastically reducing cubic inches (for all venues) and adding wickers to the roofs and hoods at Daytona and Talladega, they can eliminate the restrictor plates. The NHRA shortened the track runs and the fans still pack the stands. People do not go to the races for the pure speed, they go to watch exciting auto racing!

  9. Bill B Says:
    October 20th, 2013 at 10:30 am

    I can’t stand RP races. I feel they are crapshoots.
    The worst, I thought, was the tandem racing.

    The one by-product of RP racing that actually ruins the sport is the fact that hanging back until the last 50 laps is a viable strategy to win. That is so counter-intuitive that it makes the “race” a joke.

  10. Haylard Says:
    October 20th, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Wow. I usually enjoy this blog, but this is a major downhill turn. Sounds like all the whiny complainer fans I read on twitter.

  11. Leto Says:
    October 20th, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    I read this article expecting actual changes to be suggested. Instead, all you did was whine and moan about how Talladega’s dangerous (no crap), and then shoot down every potential suggestion.

    Maybe if you had offered a suggestion, this article would have been salvageable. As it is, this is just another whiny blog post.

    Not to mention, Superspeedway is one word. It helps if you can get the track’s name right.

  12. Tony Geinzer Says:
    October 20th, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    I would love to see Night Racing at Talladega to bring the attendance back and the race back to Summer! No More Hollow’Dega! I hate that Talladega always gets tied up with every “Fake” Holiday known to man!

  13. Danny from Talladega Says:
    October 20th, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    This article is not about football Richard! Bill that’s what makes plate racing so good it’s unpredictable!

  14. racefangurl Says:
    October 20th, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    My dad says they should govern the engines at superspeedways. They can accelerate normally up to 200 but can’t beyond that in this scenario.

  15. steve gilbert Says:
    October 20th, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    With the ecm and fuel injector system.Horse power
    Can be regulated without the restrictor plate.
    Drivers would have full throttle response.
    But remember, they still ran in packs before the restrictor
    The packs are what makes Daytona and Talladega
    As far as people not going to races, ,its not the racing
    but prices of the motels. With this economy, the average
    person can’t afford going to the race and pay the high prices
    the motels are charging..
    NASCAR needs to give the cars back to the crew chiefs
    Let them have the grey areas to work with.
    Cup racing is starting to be to much like IROC.

  16. Michael in SoCal Says:
    October 21st, 2013 at 10:38 am

    I’m doubting Talladega will be turned into a road course, not with Barber Motorsports Park about twenty miles down the road.

    But I am in agreement with tearing down a Dull D 1.5 miler and building a road course within its fingerprint, keeping the frontstretch seating intact (along with the under seat facilities). That would help with the preponderance of cookie cutter races currently on the schedule.