Talladega Fast Facts: Putting The "Speed" In (Super) Speedway
Talladega Superspeedway was the brainchild of NASCAR founder William Henry Getty France, better known as Big Bill, who wanted to build a track bigger and faster than his flagship Daytona International Speedway.
The track is built on the former site of Anniston Air Force Base, which opened in Oct. 1942 to train United States Air Force bomber pilots in World War II.
Construction began on the track in May 1968, with the facility initially costing $4 million to build.
The first event at the track took place in October 1969, with France hiring substitute drivers after the regulars walked out because of concerns about repeated tire failures at high speed. Richard Petty led the boycott with the short-lived Professional Drivers Association, which France quickly quashed. It would the last time NASCAR drivers would try to unionize.
Some other Talladega trivia:
• The track’s original name was Alabama International Motor Speedway.
• At Talladega in 1970, Buddy Baker broke the 200 mph barrier for the first time in a stock car.
• Bill Elliott set the track qualifying record with a lap of 212.809 miles per hour in 1987. It remains the fastest qualifying lap in NASCAR history.
• The late Dale Earnhardt won 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Talladega, most of any driver. Jeff Gordon is the leader among active drivers with six race victories.
• Restrictor plates were adopted after Bobby Allison’s car went into the catchfence at Talladega in 1987.