MORE THAN A RACE: The top 10 things to do during race weekend
by Kenny Farmer
If you’ve ever been to Talladega on race weekend, you know that, like Talladega Superspeedway chairman Grant Lynch says, “It’s more than a race.” Here are the top 10 things to experience at the track this weekend:

10. Attend the ARCA race

Kick off the weekend with live racing action, beginning at the Speedway at 4 p.m. on Friday. The 94 lap, 250 mile race features some of the future stars of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series. Former ARCA drivers that now compete in the Sprint Cup Series include Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman and Brad Keselowski.

9. See Atlanta Braves great, Chipper Jones

Jones, who retired at the end of the 2012 MLB season after 19 seasons, will serve as the grand marshal for Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 Sprint Cup race. Jones, a future hall of famer, finished his career with a .303 batting average and 468 home runs. He is an eight time all star, MVP of the 1999 season and he helped the Braves win the World Series in 1995.

8. Party with friends

The fan experience at Talladega on race weekend is as well known as the race itself. The Speedway’s free campgrounds can accommodate up to 45,000 of the friendliest fans in sports. Talladega Superspeedway vice president of sales and marketing Brian Crichton says the gathering of fans is like “a huge family reunion.”

7. Enjoy live music

This year’s infield concert takes place Saturday night and features RCA recording artist Chris Young. Young’s hits include “I Can Take it From There” and “Tomorrow.” Buddy Brown will open the show for Young, starting at 7:30 p.m. Fans can also catch live music Friday and Saturday nights in the campgrounds.

6. Cheer on the Crimson Tide

Two-time BCS National Championship quarterback A.J. McCarron will lead the field around the track prior to Sunday’s race as he will serve as an honorary pace car driver for the Aaron’s 499. The Tide will also be represented during the race, as Michael Waltrip’s No. 55 car will feature a special paint scheme recognizing Alabama’s back-to-back football championships.

5. Attend the Nationwide Series race

Can’t wait until Sunday to see some of the biggest stars in motorsports? Then make sure to catch the Aaron’s 312 on Saturday. The 117-lap Nationwide Series race will feature some of the sport’s biggest names, including Danica Patrick, Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne. Driver introductions start at 1:30 p.m. and the race begins at 2 p.m.

4. Watch legends become hall of famers

This year’s induction ceremony for the International Motorsports Hall of Fame begins at 5:30 p.m. today. The 2013 IMHOF class of inductees include Rusty Wallace, Rick Hendrick, Dale Inman and Don Schumacher. As of press time, tickets were still available for the black-tie event.

3. Meet your favorite drivers

There are numerous opportunities to meet the biggest names in NASCAR during race weekend. Those purchasing tickets to “The Talladega Experience” will be treated to question and answer sessions with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski, Jeff Burton and Bobby Labonte. Other drivers will make appearances in Talladega and Pell City. Check back with the Daily Home for more appearances as they are announced.

2. Party with a purpose

Race Fever, an annual fundraising event for the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind, is a little bit of everything, all rolled into one. Enjoy all you can eat barbeque, bid on unique racing memorabilia and once in a lifetime experiences and meet dozens of drivers from NASCAR’s Sprint Cup, Nationwide and ARCA series. Race Fever begins at 6 p.m. Friday night at the SPEED Dome.

1. Experience the Aaron’s 499

Whether you’re there to cheer on your favorite driver to Victory Lane or just waiting for “the big one,” you can count on spectacular racing action at the Speedway on Sunday. Previous highlights from this race include Bill Elliot’s incredible run in 1985 which became known as “The Greatest Comeback in NASCAR History” and Bobby Allison’s shocking wreck in 1987 which destroyed over 100 yards of protective fencing.

Contact Kenny Farmer at kfarmer@dailyhome.com.

© 2013