Photo Cutline: Lesa France Kennedy (second from right), Chief Executive Officer of International Speedway Corporation and granddaughter of Bill France Sr., along with Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (second from left), legendary driver and member of the “Alabama Gang” Red Farmer (left) and Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch (right) help unveil Talladega Superspeedway’s new 35,000 square foot Open Air Social Club – BIG BILL’S – inside of the new Talladega Garage Experience on Wednesday. The unique social club, named in honor of France, Sr., who built Talladega Superspeedway 50 years ago, will provide fans an incredible perspective of NASCAR’s Most Competitive track with unparalleled access.
TALLADEGA, Ala. – The name of Talladega Superspeedway’s one-of-a kind 35,000 square foot Open Air Social Club was unveiled Wednesday, and fittingly, the centerpiece of the new fan-friendly Talladega Garage Experience honors the track’s visionary creator – William H. G. “Big Bill” France, who brought big-time automobile racing to northeastern Alabama.
“BIG BILL’S” 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, Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch and legendary driver Red Farmer, one of the original famed “Alabama Gang”. A gigantic cover was pulled off the mammoth six-foot BIG BILL’S black letters that adorn the top front of the unique, rustic building. Just behind the letters is a 70 by 18 foot collage of historic France Sr. photos at his iconic venue.
BIG BILL’S, along with the entire Talladega Garage Experience (part of the Transformation Infield Project presented by Graybar) that will feature unparalleled access, FREE Wi-Fi and incredible $4 or less Value-Priced Concessions, will debut Oct. 11-13 on the track’s 50th Anniversary weekend. It is comprised of a NASCAR Playoffs doubleheader, featuring the Sugarlands Shine 250 for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series and 1000Bulbs.com 500 for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
“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.”
BIG BILL’S, which also showcases a host of artwork of France Sr. inside the mammoth building, will be the ultimate social club. It will offer an array of comfortable seating and will be lined on both sides by two garages that will house the top 22 drivers (11 in each) in the Monster Energy Cup Series. Fans will be just a few steps away and “up-close” via the fan viewing walkway, which is under the same roof where the cars will be prepped by the race teams. In addition, it will feature the Sugarlands Shine Bar, which stretches an incredible 74 feet, as well as a huge 41-foot diagonal video screen that will feature action on the track as well as other visuals for fans to see. The total size of the building is 268 feet wide and 300 feet deep, and it is 34 feet high at the center crown.
Like BIG BILL’S, everything about Bill France was big. His size. His deeds. His smile. His goals. His accomplishments. His vision. His Alabama track.
As NASCAR’s founder, the 6 foot 5 inches France was one of the most influential men in automobile racing; he sparkplugged the organization, delivering stock car racing to a form of excitement that is unequalled in modern American sports. Nowhere was that excitement more evident than at his creation of Alabama International Motor Speedway (today known as Talladega Superspeedway), the most competitive race track in the world and biggest in NASCAR, which hosted the first Talladega 500 on Sept. 14, 1969.
Years prior, with the assistance of local officials, France looked at the land of an almost abandoned Eastaboga Airfield which was once used by the Air Force and later by the city of Talladega before groundbreaking on the new 2.66-mile, 33-degree banked venue took place on May 23, 1968.
“Our fine state owes a great deal of gratitude to Bill France Sr., who decided to build the biggest and most competitive track in NASCAR here in 1969,” said Governor Ivey. “It’s been an economic engine for tourism in Alabama since its inception 50 years ago. With this incredible Talladega Garage Experience and BIG BILL’S social club, I know more race fans are going to make the trip to historic Talladega Superspeedway in the future.”
A special part of BIG BILL’S will be the new “Activation Shows” that play on top of every hour featuring custom created, heart-pounding sound and video synchronized to lighting and effects that bring the Garage to life!
Some of the new additions include: overhead LED neon outlining each beam of the structure; Peterbilt icons with strobe headlights and moving head lighting fixtures join in the fun; and Haze & CO2 with new industry noise suppression heads delivering CO2 with very low noise operation, delivering added impact these shows deserve.
The official Peterbilt – designed to look like the front of the cab of Johnny Ray’s iconic Peterbilt truck that sports the giant American flag around Talladega’s high banks during the National Anthem prior to races – will have its air horn sound at the start of every show. Fans will also have the opportunity to take group photos in a digital photo booth that can be seen high above the interior via a 20 foot high by 16 foot wide rendition of Ray’s iconic big rig that places fans in the drivers’ seat.
The Talladega Garage Experience is a major part of the $50 million Transformation endeavor that will stretch from the Tri-Oval down near the start-finish line. It will feature a host of activities and destinations, including more than 140,000 square feet of social and engagement areas and a new Gatorade Victory Lane where fans will be just a few steps away from the winner’s celebration.
For every fan who purchases a Talladega Garage Experience admission, other amenities include a Kids Zone, Watch Zone, the Clyde May’s Courtyard, Iron Alley (historic race cars), new restrooms, concession and souvenir stands, as well as a new Guest Services center.
The Transformation Infield Project presented by Graybar is part of International Speedway Corporation’s (Parent company of Talladega Superspeedway) long-term capital allocation plan and reinvestment into its major motorsports complexes. DLR Group is the architect of the entire project while Hoar Construction (Birmingham, AL) continues to spearhead Phase II. GT Grandstands (Plant City, FL) is constructing a new Race Operations tower high above the Tri-Oval, as well as the Pit Road Club Suites that will house 600 guests who will get a birds-eye view of team pit stops from behind pit road, along with food and beverages.
Fans can learn more about the project and view the progress 24/7 via the construction cam by visitingwww.talladegasuperspeedway.com/transformation. For ticket information on the track’s NASCAR doubleheader playoffs weekend and all things on Transformation and the Talladega Garage Experience, including BIG BILL’S, log onto www.talladegasuperspeedway.com.