TALLADEGA, Ala. – Families traveling during the holiday season now have a special treat just off I-20 in Alabama. The Ford Thunderbird that made history with a record speed of 212.577 mph around Talladega Superspeedway in 1988 with driver Lyn St. James behind the wheel, is now on display at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
During the final day of a two-day run at history on October 11, 1988, St. James, in the Ford prepared by two-time Talladega winner Bill Elliott and his family-run team at the time, surpassed her own closed-course women’s speed record that she set at the 2.66-mile venue three years earlier. In ‘85, she became the first woman to surpass 200 mph on a closed course in a Ford Mustang Probe GTP Prototype (204.233 mph).
The International Motorsports Hall of Fame, located just outside of Talladega Superspeedway’s fourth turn, is open daily from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. CT (will be closed Christmas and New Year’s Day). It is the home to countless historic vehicles from various worlds of racing that include: stock cars, open wheel, NHRA, road racing, modified, motorcycle and much more. Tours of both the Hall of Fame as well as Talladega Superspeedway are offered. For more information, log onto www.motorsportshalloffame.com.
The record-breaking 1989 Thunderbird is the newest addition to the collection. It is a special car built on a NASCAR chassis by Ernie Elliott, Bill’s brother. Instead of using a NASCAR 5.7 liter engine, the car was given a 377 CID V8 engine and an ultra-low ride height. Any changes to the rest of the vehicle, which included its rear roof, rear spoiler and frontal area, were made to “only look stock” and achieve aerodynamics that would minimize drag and maximize speed. The car was built specifically to set speed records at Talladega.
All told, St. James and her team set or broke 21 FIA international and national speed records, including 16 that could be held either by men or women. St. James made the record attempt in hopes of earning a NASCAR ride but it never materialized and she went into Indycar. She would also win two 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring races in her career.
While her career turned a different direction than she initially planned, her achievements at Alabama’s acclaimed superspeedway will always hold a distinguished place in her heart. And, the car that carried her to speeds like no other, is now in the appropriate place.
About Talladega Superspeedway
Talladega Superspeedway – which will celebrate its 50th anniversary season in 2019 – is the most competitive race track on the NASCAR schedule (record 88 lead changes in 188 laps), the highest-banked (33 degrees) and the longest (2.66 miles) as well as the most fun and fan-friendly. Talladega offers something for everyone, including hundreds of acres of free camping, amazing kids tickets and college student prices, along with special offers for military members, first responders, teachers and educators. The historic venue, which opened in 1969, is deemed NASCAR’s “Party Capital” thanks to the track’s infamous infield, the traditional Saturday Night Infield Concert presented by Wind Creek Casino and Hotel on event weekends and renowned Talladega Blvd., home of the “Big One on the Blvd.” party. It’s the site of the most comfortable seats in motorsports, large ISM Vision HD video boards lining the frontstretch and numerous pre-race activities for fans on race day, including special Kids VIP opportunities. For ticket information, visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 855-518-RACE (7223).
The track, along with its parent company, International Speedway Corporation, announced earlier this year Transformation – The Talladega Superspeedway Infield Project. The approximate $50 million redevelopment endeavor is part of ISC’s long-term capital allocation plan and reinvestment into its major motorsports complexes. The project, highlighted by a one-of-a-kind Garage Fan Zone Experience, will feature “up-close” access, interactive attractions and enhanced amenities for fans, sponsors, teams and stakeholders in the iconic Talladega infield. Full completion of the modernized project is scheduled for October 2019. Fans can learn more about the project and view the progress 24/7 via the construction cam by visiting www.talladegasuperspeedway.com/transformation.