Helton, Childress discuss Talladega's impact
July 10, 2014, Staff report, NASCAR.com
Duo recalls fond memories about track during 'The Business of NASCAR' panel
NASCAR President Mike Helton and team owner Richard Childress were part of a panel to discuss the business in NASCAR, Talladega Superspeedway's role in the sport and more.
The summit, called "The Business of NASCAR -- Put Your Business in the Fast Lane" was co-hosted by the 2.66-mile track and the Birmingham Business Alliance. Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch, Coca-Cola Refreshments Brenda Staton, PepsiCo, Gatorade and Quaker Brands' Carrie Walker and America's First Federal Credit Union's Phil Boozer joined Helton and Childress as panelists in a discussion moderated by Rick Harrow.
Helton discussed the impact of Talladega on NASCAR, which was something he has great knowledge of given his role as the former president of the track from 1988 to 1993.
"Over the last 45 years Talladega Superspeedway has produced some of the most memorable moments in our sport's history," Helton said. "Great competition is at the heart of NASCAR, and Talladega constantly showcaes three- and four-wide, side-by-side racing. For me, it's great coming to Talladega twice a year because I know how important the track is to the state of Alabama and the NASCAR industry worldwide."
The track hosts two Sprint Cup Series weekends a year, one in early May and the other in late October.
"The location of our world-class facility in Talladega, Alabama was handpicked by NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., who saw potential for tremendous success in the area," Lynch, who has served as the track's president or chairman since 1993, said.
The track has spent over $434 million on upgrades over the past decade.
Richard Childress, the owner of the Richard Childress Racing team, shared how much Talladega means to him during the discussion. His first career NASCAR start as a driver came in 1969 at Talladega. He also has had many great moments at the venue as a team owner with nine of Dale Earnhardt's 10 wins at the track coming as a driver for Childress.
"Talladega Superspeedway has always been special to me since I started my NASCAR career there. 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.
"It's just an amazing destination for everyone."
NASCAR action returns to Talladega from Oct. 17-19. The GEICO 500 will be the sixth race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and upon its completion, four drivers will be eliminated from the playoff field.