History was made at Talladega Superspeedway when now, for the first time ever, drivers and fans can enter and leave the infield at any time they choose — even during a race.
The Turn 3 Oversized Vehicle Tunnel began in October 2018, and was the launch of Transformation – The Talladega Superspeedway Infield Project. The new tunnel is 28-feet wide and more than 16-feet tall, enough clearance for two RVs or two car haulers to move through the tunnel simultaneously. It weighs about 3.2 million pounds, and sits on a 4-foot-thick layer of concrete. A special pump system is in place to keep groundwater from flooding the tunnel.
Without this tunnel, oversized vehicles could only enter or exit the infield across the track when it was not in use because the tunnel in turn four is not big enough. Track Chairman Grant Lynch praised Taylor Corporation, which managed the project, for staying on schedule despite the wet winter.
“They worked 11 straight days over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, 24-hours a day, and they did that to get a jump start on the project, and I would say if you hadn’t have done that, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” he said.
Taylor Corporation President Lance Taylor commended his crew for getting the work done on schedule.
“It was a team of us out there getting that done,” Taylor said. “We fought that thing from the first week.”
Before they took the track out, a laser scan image of it was taken — over a million shots of the track. The company then built a computer image of exactly what was there so when workers back-filled the tunnel going back up, they knew the specifications to eliminate the settlement that can cause dips.
“When these guys are driving across it at 200 miles per hour, we don’t want them to feel anything,” says Taylor.
The tunnel was the first of several projects that happened this year as the track celebrates its 50th anniversary. A new Finish Line Premium RV area and infield shower trailers were completed in time for last weekend’s NASCAR race. After the race, a VIP “Talladega Garage Experience” will be constructed in the infield for fans to interact with drivers and crew.
“I guess it’s ironic that the biggest infield in motorsports is the last one to get a full-sized tunnel, but we’ve got it and it’s here now,” Lynch said. “You saw the fans, how much they were enjoying coming through it.”
In previous years, large vehicles such as RV’s and car haulers could exit the infield only when the track was not in use. Drivers are excited about the improved access.
“I think it’s incredible,” said Nascar Driver Jeffrey Earnhardt. “I’ve been in the situation where I might be in the XFinity race and you’ve got to wake up at the crack of dawn Sunday to get out before they close the gate before the Cup race.”
Also unveiled recently was the name of Talladega Superspeedway’s one-of-a kind 35,000 square foot Open Air Social Club.
“BIG BILL’S” was named after the track’s visionary creator – William H. G. “Big Bill” France, who brought big-time automobile racing to northeastern Alabama. It was introduced to a crowd of more than 300 local community leaders & guests with the help of France’s granddaughter Lesa France Kennedy (Chief Executive Officer, International Speedway Corporation), along with Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, Lynch and legendary driver Red Farmer, one of the original famed “Alabama Gang”.
“Talladega Superspeedway has always been special to me and our family,” said France Kennedy. “My grandfather built this race track, and both my father, Bill France Jr., and my Uncle – Jim France – worked here. It’s so gratifying to see my grandfather’s name adorn this unique social club, which along with the entire Talladega Garage Experience, will elevate the guest experience that only Talladega can offer. It’s a world-class extension of my grandfather’s vision that will carry the track well into the future.”
Fans inside the Talladega Garage Experience will have:
- “Locker room” access to NASCAR’s top drivers and crews inside a new infield garage bay.
- BIG BILL’S Social Club, featuring a bar, a large 41-foot diagonal video screen, lounge chairs and tables.
- Celebration Plaza featuring victory lane.
- Watch Zone featuring a 40-foot-by-80-foot video board, a Kids Zone, a beer garden and plenty of seating.
- Free Wi-Fi.
- Enhanced concession stands, restroom complexes and guest services.
“We’re changing the game again,” Lynch said. “We’re ratcheting the greatest infield in motorsports up another notch or two.”
-3,000 Cubic Yards: The amount of concrete that was used for the tunnel slab and foundation walls
-100 Tons of Rebar: The amount of rebar that was used for the concrete tunnel slab and foundation walls
– 4-foot Thick Mat: The amount of concrete beneath the tunnel to form the floor
-Facts at Tunnel Completion:
Cover a Football Field: When the tunnel was finished, there was enough sheet waterproofing to the tunnel to cover an entire football field from end zone to end zone.
3,200,000 Pounds: The weight of the completed tunnel
204-feet long: Length of tunnel (and headwalls)
28-feet wide: Width of tunnel (two vehicles lanes that can accommodate two haulers at once)