Fans come from far and near for races at 'Dega
by AZIZA JACKSON
From left to right: Jimmy Clark, Delane Clark, and John “Bubba J.” Long from Russellville gather together to relax in their lawn chairs and talk about their race predictions from their campsite on top of a large hill overlooking Speedway Boulevard. NASCAR’s Truck Series race was Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway. Here the trucks go three-wide around the track. Today’s Spring Cup race starts at 1 p.m. at the speedway. For more on race coverage, see Sports beginning on 1B.
TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY — The beer’s cold and the hamburgers are sizzling on the grill as race fans from all over set up camp this week near the Talladega Superspeedway.

Some arrived as early as Tuesday to connect with old friends, support their favorite racers, and visit local shops and vendors.

Others decided to sit back, relax, and take it easy as they rounded out the last leg of their vacation at the Speedway.

Beverly and Alan Patin from Baton Rouge, La. had just returned from making several local stops before concluding their vacation at the Speedway to support No. 24 Jeff Gordon.

“I said ‘we’re going to take a long vacation,’” Beverly Patin said.

“Yesterday we went back up to Irondale and ate at the Whistle Stop Café.”

While there the Patins said they couldn’t resist ordering the café’s popular fried green tomatoes made famous by the 1992 movie of the same name.

Before coming to the Superspeedway, the Patins also made pit stops at DeSoto Caverns and the Grand River Outlet Mall.

Catt Watson, a 10-year race weekend veteran and devout Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan, said that he was there for NASCAR and to tailgate for Louisiana State University’s game against the University of Florida.

Watson and several friends including Annette Phillips from Amite, La. set up camp Tuesday and have been preparing for the races.

“We do have one Yankee with us,” Watson chuckled.

Peggy Dempsy, her husband, and her two Yorkshire terriers Precious and Pumpkin, hail from Phenix City and are ready for some racing.

Since arriving Tuesday, Dempsy walks Pumpkin and Precious up and down the road for exercise everyday, and says that the dogs are not afraid to get close to the action at the races.

“They’re not afraid of the noise or anything,” Dempsy said. “They’re not terrified.”

Dempsey said that since she arrived Tuesday she’s seen more people arrive as the race draws near.

“My husband is the big race fan, I’m a fan because of him,” Dempsey said. “My husband’s cousin lives in Franklin, Tenn. and this is the only time those two get together.”

At the tender age of 76, Dempsey and her husband have made it a priority to be at the race track for the last 17 years, and plan to be at many more in the years to come.

Jimmy Clark, Delane Clark, and John “Bubba J.” Long, from the Russellville area, were all gathered together relaxing in their lawn chairs and talking about their race predictions from their campsite on top of a large hill overlooking Speedway Boulevard.

While watching the cars, trucks, and RVs roll by, Long mentioned he’d be rooting for Dale Earnhardt, Jr.; Jimmy Clark said that he has been a big Tony Stewart fan for a long long time.

“No. 14 has got to win,” he said.

“He’s not going to make it off the pace lap,” Long chimed in.

“At least he’ll show up, Jr. won’t even show up,” Delane Clark said before Long simply said, “We’ll see.”

Contact Aziza Jackson at ajackson@dailyhome.com.

© 2012