People who know me, know I love motorsport. They know I have an annual ritual of going to every Virgin Australia Supercars Championship round I can. They even ask what racing I’m watching next weekend. And the next, and the next, because there’s always motorsport worth watching on any given Sunday. So when I began to tell people I was flying over to the USA to watch motorsport it didn’t seem to phase anyone. But when I told them I was also going to visit Alabama for a NASCAR race, their faces completely changed. “You’re going where?” “Alabama.” “Isn’t that where the rednecks are?” “Maybe.” “Wasn’t there are a movie about Talladega?” “Yes.” “Isn’t NASCAR where they go around in circles?” “Yes.” “Isn’t it boring?” “No.” And that’s the gist of every conversation I had leading up to my visit to the last race at Talladega Superspeedway for the 2018 season – the 1000Bulbs.com 500.
I’ve followed most of the major league motorsports for at least a season or two, NASCAR being one of them, but it’s been about 10 years since I’ve done so. For a racing series considered in the world as simplistic at best, the Cup Series cars in 2009 were a lot different to how they are now. The Car of Tomorrow was in its infancy and has since evolved, and carburettors were still being used as fuel delivery. Most drivers from that era have now gone as well like Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Mark Martin, Juan Pablo Montoya and Carl Edwards, who I still have fond memories of watching. Like Formula 1, NASCAR doesn’t give the average spectator a chance to get up close and personal with the cars or drivers, but I was lucky enough to have a chance to hang out in the paddock in the morning before the race. Having spent the previous 3 days circling the Road Atlanta infield during Petit Le Man, I was tired, but 15-year old me would have been jumping out of his skin knowing that he’d one day be brushing up against real Cup Series cars at Talladega Superspeedway of all places. I’ve seen double-decker race transporters, kitted-out pit garages and million-dollar racing cars before, but seeing NASCAR versions was a dream come true. Another bucket-list item checked.