Talladega Motor Speedway, nestled amidst the pines and unholy speed traps of Lincoln, is one of those rare cultural institutions that can bring people together from all swaths of society. Like Johnny Cash, its appeal runs across the divides of race, class, culture, politics and geography.
Talladega is not so much a race as it is a happening and a cultural event — a loud, raucous, hell-raising good time in celebration of redneck. Rain or shine. And the tri-oval Motor Superspeedway is its hallowed ground: the house that Dale and Jeff and Junior built.
It’s also okay to secretly admit that you came for the prospect of chaos; the next “Big One”; the ‘Dega Curse; the spectacle that only 198-mile per hour restrictor plate racing can provide.
Whether you go to Talladega for the beer, the tailgating, the people-watching, the race itself, controlled chaos ready to veer into disaster, do make sure you try and go at least once in your life. If, as Jeff Foxworthy once said, “redneck is the glorious absence of sophistication,” then there is nothing more redneck than Talladega.
You will not regret a minute of its defiantly lowbrow self-awareness. And, you may just walk away with a renewed appreciation that America is, at its heart, a proudly redneck place.