Talladega Superspeedway announced today that original “Alabama Gang” members Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison, and Red Farmer will serve as the Grand Marshals and will give the command to fire engines for the GEICO 500 this Sunday, April 23.
The pre-race celebrants are joining the weekend as part of the NASCAR Legends Presented by GEICO campaign, highlighting traditions and stories throughout the rich history of NASCAR, which will conclude with the GEICO 500. Fans will get to see the legends on Sunday at BIG BILL’S in the Talladega Garage Experience, as the “Alabama Gang” members will have an autograph session from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. CT.
In addition to giving the command, after the familiar sight of Johnny Ray’s big rig flying the American flag during the National Anthem, Donnie Allison will take a ceremonial lap in his famed #27 1968 Ford. The car won five races between 1968-1970, and had a local tie-in to Talladega with sponsorship from Sunny King Ford in nearby Anniston, Alabama. It is being provided for the race weekend by The Garage Shop Performance Fabrication collection from Catawba, NC.
“To have the original ‘Alabama Gang’ members involved in our pre-race ceremonies is truly an honor,” said Talladega Superspeedway President Brian Crichton. “It’s going to be very special seeing Donnie drive around the track during his ceremonial lap. The impact that Bobby, Donnie, and Red had on both NASCAR and Talladega can’t be measured and it always means a lot to the fans when they come out to the track.”
Farmer and the Allison brothers became popular in Alabama during the late 1950s and early 1960s while racing on short tracks in Birmingham, Huntsville and Montgomery. In 2014, Talladega Superspeedway named the 4,000-foot backstretch “The Alabama Gang Superstretch,” which showcases scripts at the exit of turn two and near the entrance of turn three in their honor.
The Alabama Gang also had great success racing at Talladega Superspeedway. Bobby visited Victory Lane four times during his career. He won 85 career races and was the 1983 NASCAR Cup Series champion. Donnie was able to win twice at Talladega (1971, 1977) and earned 10 career wins in the NASCAR Cup Series. Farmer obtained two wins in the ARCA Menards Series at Talladega and is a 3-time NASCAR Late Model Sports Champion (1969, 1970, 1971). Bobby was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2011 and Red joined him with the Class of 2021.
While legends will be celebrated all weekend long as part of the NASCAR Legends Presented by GEICO, the future of the sport will also take to the track as part of the all-new NASCAR Youth Series. The NASCAR Youth Series is a partnership between USAC and NASCAR in which young racers compete in quarter midgets in a schedule that includes nine pavement and four dirt races at temporarily constructed tracks.
Racing starts at 8:30 a.m. each day. Friday’s racing goes throughout the day, Saturday’s racing goes until 11:30 a.m., and Sunday will feature the A-Mains followed by award presentations. All racing takes place in the Midway outside the frontstretch and is free to fans.
Racers from the series will join the NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers on-stage during pre-race for the Ag-Pro 300 on Saturday, and the winners will be recognized on Sunday during pre-race for the GEICO 500.
The GEICO 500 weekend will have many other great activations and events. These include the Big One on the Blvd, Saturday Night Infield Concert with Travis Denning and Cole Swindell, Kids Day sponsored by First Bank of Alabama, and Alabama Racing Pioneers which includes vintage cars highlighting Dale Earnhardt Sr & Jr, and Richard Petty.
The Midway will have 17 corporate displays, merchandise haulers, food and beverage, and fan activities including axe throwing, caricature artists and balloon artists. And the pre-race ceremonies Sunday will showcase high school bands, including one with more than 300 members. Live music will be featured from a DJ with a T-Shirt cannon for fan giveaways.
This year’s spring action at Talladega kicks off Saturday, April 22, with a doubleheader featuring the ARCA Menards Series General Tire 200 followed by the NASCAR Xfinity Series Ag-Pro 300 later that same day. Then the sun sets and the party starts with Cole Swindell’s performance in the Saturday Night Infield Concert Presented by Cabo Wabo Tequila.
Saturday’s excitement continues into Sunday with the return of the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, as drivers prepare to tackle the iconic 33-degree banking. Admission to Swindell’s concert is free with purchase of a ticket to Sunday’s race.
— Talladega Superspeedway —