TALLADEGA — Talladega Superspeedway boasts one of the fastest tracks in NASCAR, so why not go super fast when rebuilding the infield of the facility?
Construction on Phase II of the superspeedway's transformation project began April 29, the day after the track hosted the GEICO 500. During a media tour in the blazing heat Wednesday afternoon, project leader Gary Merriman said the job is on schedule to meet its Sept. 20 completion date.
"We're about 40 percent complete on the construction process," said Merriman, senior superintendent at Hoar Construction.
The speedway is slated to host its next race weekend Oct. 12-13, with a truck series race (Sugarlands Shine 250) on Oct. 12 and a Cup Series race (1000Bulbs.com 500).
"This is the most fast-paced job I've been a part of," Merriman said.
The garages are getting a makeover, including four new buildings with 11 garages each for Cup Series racers. When completed, fans can come through, walk behind a four-foot tall fence and see what's going on.
There will be a new Victory Lane, which will allow fans to come close and see the trophy presentation.
There will be an infield fan area that will include about 140,000 square feet of open space. Even the media center is being gutted and redone.
"This will give folks a chance to get up close and personal like never before," said Russell Branham, the track's director of public relations and consumer marketing.
Merriman said that the project includes 10 new buildings.
"In the next three to four weeks, you'll see all the structures standing and all the exterior roofs and skins going on the buildings," Merriman said.
The project has a special meaning to Merriman, a Hokes Bluff native who has raced at Talladega's dirt tracks.
"I'm a third-generation dirt track racer and been involved in racing all my life and love it," he said. "Been a big NASCAR fan all my life. So this has been a rewarding job to be on, and I will definitely look at the races here in a different light."