Talladega is special to Wayne Wilson because the city is home to two of his favorite places — the Presbyterian Home for Children and Talladega Superspeedway.
Wilson personally witnessed the track develop from a dirt field to the nationally renowned NASCAR site it is today. As a teenager in 1969, Wilson drove a water truck for a construction company that built the Talladega Superspeedway, spreading water on the dirt track so that construction could continue for the construction workers, who were working in six inches of dust at times.
Wilson was fortunate enough to attend the very first race at Talladega Superspeedway, and later in the 1990s, he helped construct three of the towers on the course as well as build additions to the Hall of Fame and the Talladega Superspeedway sign. He has met many of the early NASCAR drivers, and his favorite recent memory is participating in a NASCAR Ride Along, which has been on his “bucket list” for years.
Wilson also has a special place in his heart for the Presbyterian Home for Children in Talladega. He worked there from 2001-17 and has volunteered many hours to improving the facility and to mentoring youth on the campus. The Home is one of the few organizations in the state caring for Alabama’s homeless boys and girls, along with their female caregivers in its Secure Dwellings Program.
In its Moderate Residential Care Therapeutic Program, the Home also serves teenage girls who have experienced extreme trauma or neglect. In addition, the Home serves young female adults in crisis through its Transition to Adult Living Program and families in crisis over seven counties through its In-Home Intensive Services, Family Bridges.
While Wayne’s heroes are NASCAR drivers, Wayne is a hero at the Home, where he was known by all the children as PawPaw.