As a fairly new NASCAR fan(since 2005) I have heard mention of the Talladega curse, but never much more about it. So I got to thinking that as we’re approaching this Halloween, I would do a little research. I will tell you honestly, the more I read about the mishaps at this track, the less I wanted to read and the more I began to believe. Let me go over this legend of sorts with you and let you draw your own conclusions.
First, I must warn you, this makes for quite the spooky Halloween tale! The legend begins with a tribe of Indians, known as the Abihka Tribe of the Creek Indian Confederacy. Centuries ago this tribe of Indians held horse races in the same valley as where the Talladega SuperSpeedway sits today. Story has it that a revered chief of thier tribe was killed when he was thrown from his horse during one of these races which made this ground sacred to his people. Roughly 200 years ago, Andrew Jackson forced the tribe to vacate the land.
Now here is where the story varies… In one version, a medicine man stood atop a hill facing the valley as his people were leaving and cursed the land and all who chose to inhabit it. Another version says that when the Abihkas learned that Bill France had purchased the land in the 60s, they sent a medicine man to visit France and ask that he didn’t build his racetrack in that valley. When France refused to budge, the medicine man placed an eternal curse on the valley.
Since the opening of the track in 1969, a series of eerie events has taken place at Dega. Although misfortunate events happen at every track in the circuit, more mishaps have taken place at Talladega than all other tracks combined. The list goes on and on… Take a look at this timeline of events from Talladega SuperSpeedway.
The only driver strike in Nascar history took place at the very first race at Talladega in 1969.
1973 – A massive crash in th Winston 500 occured in two waves and took out nearly half of the field. Later on in that same race, driver, Bobby Issac, stopped his car on pit road without warning and pulled out. There was nothing wrong with the car. He said that a voice had told him to quit and retire now or he would die in a crash. Issac did quit and never drove a race car again.
1974 – A dozen of the top cars were found sabotaged on the morning of the race. Tires and brake lines had been cut and sand and sugar had been poured in the gas tanks. The perpetrator was never caught.
1975 – Tiny Lund was killed in a race he wasn’t even supposed to be in. In that same race, Richard Petty’s brother in law, and crew member, was killed in a freak water tank explosion.
1979 – Buddy Baker had just taken the lead when he blew a tire and triggered a 17 car crash eliminateing nearly half of the field. Cale Yarborough’s car cartwheeled over top of Benny Parson’s car. Clearly shaken, Cale climed out of the car and was hit by a spinning Dave Marcis and he was pinned between two cars. Fortunately, and miraculously, his injuries were not too serious.
1983 – Phil Parsons flipped end over end. Help was slow to arrive and two trackside photographers pulled Parsons from the wreck just moments before the car exploded into flames.
1986 – The race was delayed when the pace car was stolen from pit road. The thief drove two laps around the field before the police were able to force him to come to a stop.
1987 – Bobby Allison went airborne and almost went flying into the grandstands. Several viewers were injured from the debris, but none were killed.
1993 – Davey Allison was killed when his helicopter attempted to land near the garage area.
1993 – Rusty Wallace and Dale Earnhardt Sr. were shooting it out in the final lap, when some inadvertant contact send Rusty tumbling, flipping, and spinning across the finish line for a 6th place finish. Rusty suffered a concussion, broken teeth, and cuts to the face along with other injuries.
This is just a short list of all the eerie happenings at Talladega SuperSpeedway. More recently, in 2009 Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski were racing for the win in the final laps of the race when Edwards came down to protect his position and block Keselowski. Keselowski clipped the left rear of Edwards car sending him spinning into on coming traffic. This sent Edward’s car airborne and flying into the catch fence towards the grandstands. Several onlookers were injured from flying debris, and one girl had serious injuries that sent her to the hospital. That same year in the fall race, Ryan Newman was involved in a wreck that also sent his car airborne. Landing on his roof, Newman had to be cut out of the car. Newman wasn’t injured, but this sparked a series of changes to the Nascar Sprint Cup cars in order to improve the drivers safety and attempt to keep the cars on the track and out of the air.
Eerie events or spooky coincidences, one thing is for sure, Talladega SuperSpeedway is full of excitement. You will always be subject to a good show at this track. Is it because the track was cursed by a Native American medicine man? Is the Talladega boogieman lurking on the grouds? I’ll leave it up to you to decide!