It all started with an ingenious idea from the bachelor himself. A journey that would transcend all to become the ultimate bachelor party experience. We had all seen the movie, a Will Farrell classic and most of us had never even been to "The Deep South". A NASCAR race in ‘Dega was foreign territory.
Every year the Superspeedway hosts the Talladega 500 which also happens to be one of the biggest parties in the US - many say that it rivals Mardi Gras. More than 100,000 dedicated folk drive across the 2.6 mile track days before the race to camp, BBQ, and “get their party on”. For most of us, our journey began in San Francisco, California. We flew across country to Atlanta, rented 2 mini-vans, and headed straight to Walmart and Dick’s sporting goods for supplies including BBQ, brewskis, poker chips, and a full sized ping(beer) pong table strapped the roof. Several of us took the trip quite seriously cultivating handlebar mustaches, tight jeans, half shirts, and a vintage Ricky Bobby Wonder Bread race outfit. We weren’t messing around. Now the infield is not the best vantage point to watch the race, but it has its perks. Our neighbors offered beef brisket, Frogmore stew, and even homegrown moonshine out of an old dirty Dasani bottle that smelled like peach but tasted like fire.
On Saturday night before the race, the masses venture to Talladega Blvd, the main strip where it all goes down. The boulevard is lined with state-of-the-art RVs with all the features of a luxury home and platters of delicious knee slappin', good eatin', southern hospitality. People come to eat, drink, dance, and rage. Many guys bring beads and women will jump through hoops to get them.
The race day was electric. We ventured north from our 33 degree banked south turn campsite to the straightaway across from the stands. There were 5 laps left and hometown favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a small lead over California grown Jeff Gordon. Every minute or so 40 cars would roar by at 140+ MPH, fans cheering for Earnhardt Jr. Some stood high atop personal industrial grade compression lifts sporting headphones and radio frequency to their favorite pit.
In the end, Jeff Gordon’s full tank and team of drivers was too much for Earnhardt Jr. Hometown fans were so upset, that Gordon had to tone down the victory stunts and stay in his car, sheltering him from the barrage of beer cans. Come to think of it, I'm glad we didn't tell anyone we were from Frisco!
At the end of it all we were dehydrated, sunburned, and voiceless with blood shot eyes, big Southern smiles, and a newfound appreciation for Nascar.