May and October
100 miles from Atlanta
What it is This motorsports complex—described as the “biggest and baddest” by parent company International Speedway Corporation—hosts NASCAR races on a tri-oval track outside of Lincoln, Alabama. (Maybe you saw a fictionalized portrait of it in Will Ferrell’s 2006 film, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby?) Camping can start as early as the Tuesday before a Sunday race. talladegasuperspeedway.com
“We always end up making new friends with our camping neighbors. I’ve had homemade brats with a family from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and burgers from buffalo that were raised by some guys we met from South Dakota. We’ve kept in touch with a group of folks we met from upstate New York and have camped with them twice now.” —Ty Stewart, launch manager for JAC products in Franklin, Georgia, who has been going to Talladega since childhood
What to see on the track: “The draft is the biggest factor in the race. Forty-three cars are bumper to bumper for 500 miles, traveling at more than 200 miles per hour. It’s amazing when they come screaming by and the grandstand shakes,” Stewart says.
What to see off the track: Stewart has seen converted school buses with flatscreens and hot tubs, not to mention a canopy with a foam machine that spewed soap bubbles all over a dance floor. And bands perform free on flatbed trailers.
What not to miss: The International Motorsports Hall of Fame and Museum.
Where to eat: Catfish at the Ark; Rick’s Crossroads Grille in Lincoln, for Cajun food (205-763-7266).
This article originally appeared in our March 2014 issue.