Our View: Welcome race fans
Forty-four years of racing have made the name Talladega internationally recognizable, and this week fans and workers will be pouring into the area for this weekend’s events, the ARCA 250 Friday afternoon, the NASCAR Nationwide Series Aarons 312 Saturday and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aarons 499 Sunday — even a country music concert, free to ticket holders, with performer Chris Young Saturday night.

Since its first race in 1969, the Talladega Superspeedway (then called the Alabama International Motor Speedway) has emphasized safety, competitive racing and a satisfying experience for the fans, with changes made throughout the years in an effort to cover all the bases.

Races typically draw crowds well in excess of 100,000, and economic impact studies have placed the impact of the track and museum at more than $400 million on an annual basis.

A number of temporary jobs were made available for the race through a local employment service, and over the years a number of groups have earned money for their projects by staffing concession stands. County government also gets a hefty boost through commerce at the track through the county sales tax.

Improvements in helping the flow of traffic have been made, and while the large number of vehicles makes some delays inevitable, it’s not due to a lack of effort. This will be the first race for the city of Talladega’s new northern bypass to be open, which should help some motorists save time as they make their way home.

Local businesses and charities have also benefited through relationships with the speedway and with NASCAR. The Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind Foundation has been the recipient of charitable donations through the annual Race Fever Night auction of racing memorabilia. Last year AIDB benefited from the inaugural Betty Jane France Foundation award of $100,000, thanks to Robert Weaver winning the foundation’s first prize for his charitable work with AIDB students. Jeffrey Earnhardt, grandson of racing icon Dale Earnhardt, will honor AIDB by having the institute’s logo on the back of his car in Saturday’s race.

Race weekends have seen traffic at the Talladega Municipal Airport’s Boswell Field soar, with up to 350 planes flying in and out. The airport becomes one of the busiest in the nation two weekends every year.

As one of the premier events on NASCAR’s calendar, Talladega Superspeedway has taken on a special status as a great place to attend a race.

The speedway’s impact on the area through employment and entertainment opportunities can only be envied by other parts of the country, and the continuing efforts toward excellence can serve as an example to others.

We appreciate the excitement of having one of nation’s premier sports venues in our backyard, and we welcome the fans, teams and workers to our area for this week’s events.

© 2013