Talladega Superspeedway, NASCAR’s biggest and most competitive race track, along with the Birmingham Business Alliance, today co-hosted “The Business of NASCAR – Put Your Business in the Fast Lane.” The summit featured NASCAR President Mike Helton and 14-time NASCAR Championship team owner Richard Childress speaking to the Alabama business community.
In addition to Helton and Childress, panelists included Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch; Coca-Cola Refreshments’ Brenda Staton; PepsiCo, Gatorade & Quaker Brands’ Carrie Walker; and America’s First Federal Credit Union’s Phil Boozer. World renowned leading expert in the business of sports – Rick Horrow – served as the moderator for the discussion, which centered on business in NASCAR, Talladega Superspeedway’s role in the sport, as well as corporate opportunities at the 2.66-mile venue.
“Over the last 45 years Talladega Superspeedway has produced some of the most memorable moments in our sport’s history,” said Helton, NASCAR’s President since 2000 and former Talladega Superspeedway President from 1988-93. “Great competition is at the heart of NASCAR, and Talladega constantly showcases three- and four-wide, side-by-side racing. For me, it’s great to coming to Talladega twice a year because I know how important the track is to the state of Alabama and the NASCAR industry worldwide.”
Talladega Superspeedway, known for events that feature breath-taking 200 mph pack racing, annually boasts an economic impact of over $380 million. To continue to provide fans and competitors the best possible facility in which to host two NASCAR weekends every year, the track has spent over $434 million in operational, event and upgrade costs over the last decade.
“The location of our world-class facility in Talladega, AL was handpicked by NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., who saw the potential for tremendous success in the area,” said Lynch, who has overseen NASCAR’s biggest and baddest track since 1993. “”Our strategy in picking the Talladega geographic location pays dividends with over half of our race fans traveling more than 290 miles, one-way on average, to get to our last eight event weekends.
“Twice a year we are proud to host the top three motorsports series in the United States – the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series – right here in Alabama. Our fans are as passionate as any on the planet and we look forward to being here for many years to come.”
Talladega Superspeedway, which draws over 71 percent of its fans from outside the Yellowhammer State, has played a pivotal part in some of NASCAR’s most historical moments. In 2000 Dale Earnhardt Sr. (who won six championships and 67 races for Childress) darted from 18th place to first in the last five laps to score his 10th Talladega triumph. In 1987, Bill Elliott used the track’s high banks to make record qualifying run of over 212 mph. And, in 2011 Jimmie Johnson crossed Talladega’s famous finish line by a record .002 second, in what was nearly a four-wide triumph.
Before he became Talladega’s all-time winning car owner with 12 victories, Richard Childress competed as a driver. His first career NASCAR start was at Talladega in ’69, and he used his purse winnings from that race to invest in kick-starting his racing team. Today, Richard Childress Racing fields three teams in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series.
“Talladega Superspeedway has always been special to me since I started my NASCAR career there,” admitted Childress, who finished 23rd behind winner Richard Brickhouse nearly 45 years ago. “I still love driving through the tunnel twice a year because I know what the place is all about. It’s fun for the fans and the competitors, and just a great place to be. My grandsons, Ty and Austin, and I love going out on Talladega Blvd in the infield to mingle with the fans—something NASCAR was founded on. Our sponsors love Talladega, too, and it’s one of their ‘must-see’ places to go to entertain their customers and employees. It’s just an amazing destination for everyone.”
The Coca-Cola Company is one of those corporate partners that Childress is referring to. Coca-Cola also teams up with Talladega Superspeedway and NASCAR.
“The synergy between NASCAR, Talladega Superspeedway and the teams is a large part of our strategic marketing initiatives each year,” added Brenda Staton, Coca-Cola Refreshments Marketing Activation Manager. “We have been able to utilize national, regional and local promotional programming, cementing the Coca-Cola brand as a partner to NASCAR, the track and teams. It’s a win-win.”