[TD="class: c5"]There's a two-word response to the question, "I've never been to a NASCAR race. What's it like?"
While it remains to be seen whether the Bristol night race will be helped or hampered by Bruton Smith's finagling of the track surface, Talladega shows off the sport in all of its glorious excess, both on the track and in the infield.
The speed. The sound. The side-by-side racing. The crashes. The beer cans and chicken bones. In a three-hour period, it's a microcosm of NASCAR. Chances are the guy on your left still pines for the halcyon days of the Alabama Gang, while the lady on your right stands up and hollers every time Junior flashes by.
The Daytona 500 is the sport's signature event. But Talladega is bigger, wider, faster, meaner and crazier. It's Daytona on steroids. All it takes to "get NASCAR" is to spend an afternoon in the O.V. Hill grandstands, watching 43 cars in a huge pack roaring around the biggest track on the circuit at close to 200 mph, close enough for the drivers to reach out and adjust each other's rear-view mirrors.
When Hollywood decided to make a movie about NASCAR, did they call it Darlington Nights? I didn't think so.
So if you've never seen a Cup race in person, hop in the car, get on Interstate 20 and drive until you see the sign for Eastaboga, Ala. You won't be disappointed, I promise. • Mark Aumann, NASCAR.COMThe opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
[TD="class: c5"]May could be one of the most exciting months of the year for a NASCAR fan. In the month we celebrate our mom's, as race fans we also get quite the celebration with four incredibly entertaining, yet totally different, races. The month starts with the draft at Talladega, then the Lady in Black gets its annual visit and May wraps with two weeks at home with the All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte.
While all four have their plusses, the best race without question is Mother's Day weekend at the Track Too Tough to Tame. Nothing against Talladega and Charlotte, but Darlington is special ... and it's the race I know I won't miss.
The aggressiveness of the track, the physical and mental difficulty of 500 miles, the two completely different sets of turns, the Darlington stripe, the adrenaline rush at the 1.36-mile track -- let's be honest, Darlington just doesn't disappoint. Plus, the fact our favorite lady comes just once a year makes the second weekend of May that much more important.
Nothing against Talladega, but we get to see the same race again in October. As for the two weeks in Charlotte, for me, the All-Star-Race is too contrived and the 600 is just too darn long.
There is very little negative that can be said for the track off Harry Byrd Hwy. There are no gimmicks, no restrictor-plates, all of which is why without question, it is the best race of the month that ushers in summer. • Bill Kimm, NASCAR.COMThe opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.