E.A. Sports Today

Wreath of victory

Rusty Wallace helps Talladega bring back historic winner’s wreath while debuting track’s new Victory Lane

Rusty Wallace sports the nostalgic red, white and blue wreath that will go to every Talladega Monster Energy Series race winner going forward.

TALLADEGA – NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace never won a race at Talladega Superspeedway in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. In fact, he was more known for his misfortune at the track that will celebrate its 50th anniversary with the running of the 1000Bulbs.come 500 Oct. 13.

On Wednesday, however, the 1989 premier series champion became the first to celebrate the track’s future Gatorade Victory Lane, and in the process, bring back a tradition that dates back to the first Cup race here in 1969 – the sprawling red, white and blue horseshoe-shaped winner’s wreath.
 
Reminiscent of Richard Brickhouse donning the patriotic wreath and standing on the hood of his winged Dodge Daytona after claiming the first Talladega 500, Wallace stood on the front of Talladega’s Chevrolet Camaro Pace Car with the 2019 version of the wreath that the track announced will now go to the winner of every Monster Energy Series victor moving forward.
 
“I’ve always liked starting new traditions, and this is amazing,” said Wallace, now the lead analyst for Motor Racing Network. “This is something that we’re bringing the past back with all its glory. Talking about the 1969 win here with Richard Brickhouse and we’re here celebrating our 50th anniversary here at Talladega, I couldn’t think of a better way of bringing back the past, and now every single winner of the race will wear this wreath starting with the October race.
 
“If I was the October winner, I would be really excited that I was able to put this wreath on and be the first of a brand-new tradition here at Talladega.”
 
The wreath took more than 300 carnations and 33 yards of ribbon to create.
 
In addition to the 1969 race, Pete Hamilton sported the colorful wreath when he took his winged car to victory at ’Dega in 1970.
 
Incredibly, just getting to Victory Lane was an experience Wallace didn’t get to enjoy much here. Although he had 55 career wins, in 44 Talladega starts the International Motorsports Hall of Famer had only one top-five finish. He did have two wins at the track – an IROC race in 1991 and a Grand American event in 1980 at the tender age of 23, beating the likes of Harry Gant, Richard Childress, Sterling Marlin and Neil Bonnett.
 
The new Victory Lane is part of the all-new Talladega Garage Experience, which debuts as a part of the track’s $50 million Transformation infield project. Race fans with a Talladega Garage Experience pass will be able to watch the victory celebration up-close for both the winner of the 1000Bulbs.com 500 as well as the Sugarlands Shine 250 for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series – both NASCAR Playoff events.
 
“This is like nothing I have ever seen before, it’s just incredible,” Wallace said. “It’s going to allow fans to get up close and personal with the drivers, teams and cars like never before, and I am super pumped for the fans who come here in October.
 
“The Open Air Social Club is going to be absolutely phenomenal, and just feet away from the garage bays of the teams … I can’t wait to get back here and see the finished product. It’s huge, and the fans who get here in person to see it will be elated. Photos on a computer screen or your phone don’t do it justice. Simply amazing.”
 
The Talladega Garage Experience will stretch from the center of the Tri-Oval down near the start-finish line. It will feature a host of activities, including more than 140,000 square feet of social and engagement areas, the new ‘old-school style’ Victory Lane and the 35,000-square-foot Open Air Social Club, where fans will be just a few steps away and up-close from the fan viewing walkway under the same roof where the race cars are being prepped by the teams.
 
Every fan purchasing a Talladega Garage Experience admission will receive free wi-fi and a $4 or less Value-Priced Concession. Other amenities inside the Experience include a Kids Zone, Watch Zone, Courtyard, new restrooms, concession and souvenir stands, and a new Guest Services center.
 
For ticket information on the track’s doubleheader playoffs weekend call 855-518-7223.



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