Why I Hold My Breath at Talladega

Everyone is excited about Talladega. Well, everyone but me. Put me in the David Poole camp that basically believes that there is no racing going on there, only holding on and hoping for the best.

Even though short tracks (probably because we have so few of them) have come into favor recently, the majority of people I come in contact with love plate racing. When pressed for an answer why, they somehow tiptoe around the violence and talk about the competition and close racing, which by the way leads to the violence. I’m certain I am in the minority for that view.

As one who was there to see Bobby Allison’s car hit the frontstretch catch-fence and nearly go into the crowd, I understand the need for plate racing even if plates have been replaced by tapered spacers. It has still happened to Carl Edwards and others, but it is less likely. I tend to hold my breath for the worst to happen when I watch a race at what was once known as Alabama International Speedway. Oddly enough, I don’t feel that way at Daytona International Speedway. Maybe it’s the carnage I’ve witnessed at other races at Talladega; or maybe the excitement of a new season tempers my emotions has something to do with it. I always dread watching the races at Talladega, even though I don’t go there anymore.

Back in the 80’s, I once saw Bill Elliott come from nearly two laps down to win going away. I remember Dale Earnhardt winning early in his career, but for some reason, branded on my memory is Larry Smith dying in a crash that looked not so bad. I remember Allison hitting that catchfence and thinking he was going into the crowd. I remember Brad Keselowski punting Carl Edwards, sending him airborne and into the fence.

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I’ll watch the race Sunday, but with fear of what might happen. On occasion, a surprise happens. David Ragan, James Hylton, and Jamie McMurray winning when all odds were against them, but holding one’s breath for almost three hours is not my cup of tea. Every time I heard Cale Yarborough say, “Thank the Lord for a good safe race,” as he did after almost every win, I thought of Talladega.

So, like William Caleb Yarborough, I’ll say, “Thanks in advance, Lord for a safe race.” I hope it works.

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Ron Fleshman has followed NASCAR racing since attending his first race at Martinsville Speedway in 1964. He joined the Motor Sports Forum on the CompuServe network in the 1980s and became a reporter for Racing Information Systems in 1994. In 2002, he was named NASCAR Editor for RIS when it appeared on the World Wide Web as www.motorsportsforum.com. He can now be found at www.ris-news.com. Ron is a member of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. You can find Ron following and reporting on the top three NASCAR divisions each week. As a lifer in his support of racing, he attends and reports on nearly 30 events a year and as a member of the motor sports media, his passion has been racing for 47 years. He lives with his family in rural West Virginia and works in the insurance industry when not on the road to another track.

1 COMMENT

  1. The best thing to do with this piece of crap is plow it up and give it back to the Indians. But of course, NA$CAR suits and IMC (I steal cash) wouldn’t walk away with millions of dollars, and the car owners several millions of dollars of junk cars.

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