When racers return to the Talladega Short Track, they’ll be greeted with a brand-new surface, among many other improvements to the track in Eastaboga, Alabama.
“We want side-by-side racing and we want drivers to get at least a couple of nights of racing from their tires,” said Adam Stewart, who owns the track with David Miller. “We want a track surface that retains water evenly across the track — we don’t want the bottom faster than the top.”
They removed more than 300 loads of old surface and replaced with red clay dug from a site nearby the oval.
“The old surface was tired,” Stewart said. “No new dirt had been added in eight to 10 years. The track had a lot of rubber in it.”
To ensure they’ll create a surface that creates the racing they desire, the Talladega Short Track brought in two professors from Auburn University. Dr. Benjamin Bowers and Dr. Brian Anderson collected samples of the soil for analysis.
“We want to find out if we need to add organic material or byproducts to the soil to limit tire wear while making a smooth consistent surface,” said Stewart. “They will analyze things like the clay-to-sand ratio, and determine if we have to mix materials into what we have.”
(For more on a soil scientist who races, read “Ryan Winchester: Knows How to Judge Dirt”.)
The Talladega Short Track will also add a five-foot-high, eight-inch-thick concrete wall between turns one and two. Turns three and four will have a less steep hill, with a retaining wall at the bottom of it.
“We had a sprint car go out of the park last season,” Stewart said. “Cars are parked at the bottom of the hill in turns one and two. The wall is for the safety of those in the parking lot and their cars.”
(For more on that incident, read “Danny Burke: Straight Out of Talladega”.)
In addition, Talladega Short Track will install a new Whelen safety light system, expand parking, add concrete pads in the pits, and cut down brush to make the track visible from I-20.
“Our goals are to reinvent and reinvigorate Talladega Short Track,” said Stewart. “We’re spending money to do that. By the end of the season, we’re hoping to start on building new restrooms and a new concession stand in the pits.”
Stewart said the Talladega Short Track will be ready for open practice on March 11. The World of Outlaws sprint cars come into town later that month, on March 24.
This year marks the Outside Groove Director of Photography’s 51st year of covering auto racing. Adaskaveg got his start working for track photographer Lloyd Burnham at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway in 1970. Since then, he’s been a columnist, writer, and photographer, in racing and in mainstream media, for several outlets, including the Journal Inquirer, Boston Herald, Stock Car Racing, and Speedway Illustrated. Among Adaskaveg’s many awards are the 1992 Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Ace Lane Photographer of the Year and the 2019 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) George Cunningham Writer of the Year.