I bid you welcome gentle readers. Do these next words sound familiar to anyone reading today?
“You're traveling through another dimension -- a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's a signpost up ahead: your next stop: The Twilight Zone!” ~ Rod Serling
If not, they will in a bit. Over my years behind a keyboard, your scribe has offered up several editions of an article entitled “Tales of the Talladega Curse.” Alas, over time that piece has grown to unwieldy proportions, encompassing something circa 4000 words, or as most would call it, “A book.” Ah, but for the newer fans, it is a book very much worth reading. It can be found by clicking right about here, and will give some valuable insight into the strange goings-on that have plagued the giant track over many years.
And now comes the scary part… as we saw in the original document, in 2006, two men died from electrocution while attempting to raise a flag in the infield, and that was where we left it… but wait! There’s more!
Nicholas “Nick” Bower disappeared May 4, 2013 after being seen the night before the race at Talladega Superspeedway. Talladega County Sheriff Jimmy Kilgore said Bower's body was found shortly before noon on May 14 in a creek at the Jackson Shoals area downstream from an old dam. He said Bower's body was found in tall grass in the middle of the creek by a search team using a helicopter to search the creek area. Sheriff Kilgore said in a statement that "no foul play" was suspected in Bower’s death.
Strange… but then again, it is Talladega.
Now gentle readers, we have only to move from the May race to the October race of 2013 to see that Craig Franklin Morgan of Murfreesboro Tennessee perished in an RV set up at the South Campground outside the track. Morgan and his wife, Jami Allison Morgan were found unresponsive inside their motorhome, victims of carbon monoxide poisoning. Other campers went looking for them when they didn’t come out on Saturday morning. Jami Morgan was found unconscious and transported to UAB hospital for treatment. She survived but Craig was not so fortunate. Authorities said the couple’s RV had a broken exhaust pipe on its generator, which ran all night Friday.
Yes, things such as that do happen, but they seem to happen frequently at the big track in Alabama.
Fast Forward to the October race of 2014 and we’ll find a report of a 42-year old woman, seemingly gone missing without a trace from the grounds of the racetrack. Lincoln police Investigator Matt Hill said the woman, 42-year-old Theresa Benn of Calhoun County, was last seen in the predawn hours on Sunday near the track on Speedway Industrial Drive in Lincoln.
Authorities said her husband, Kevin Dulaney, told them he dropped her off around 2:15 am on Sunday because she wanted to go to the race but he did not. Let’s sort through that one for just a moment, shall we? Am I getting out of a vehicle and walking about the grounds of that giant track alone at 2:15 am? Not on your life… or mine either! From all reports I’ve found, Theresa was not seen alive again from that moment. Her remains were found on November 22, 2014, in the Jackson Shoals area of Choccolocco Creek. Once the body was identified and autopsy done, her death was declared a homicide. To my knowledge, there have been no arrests made to date regarding her murder.
Holy autopsies Batman! Has the curse turned to the fans? If we go back to the 2 deaths from electrocution in 2006, that is 5 deaths in 10 years, all of them fans and all linked to the Talladega track. When taken individually, each seems innocent enough, but taken altogether, that’s one huge pile of coinkydinks gentle readers; don’t you think? I know one thing for sure. Next time someone goes missing, the place to begin the search is Jackson Shoals. Are the little hairs on the back of your neck standing at attention? It’s not just the pack racing that’s scary at Talladega.
And now it’s time to take a peek at how the SAFER barrier situation looks for Talladega, so without further ado, here is the Google Earth map of the track:
We absolutely must commend Grant Lynch and his staff at Talladega Superspeedway for being the first to step up with the most. When Kyle Busch’s accident at Daytona left him in casts on both legs and unable to race until who knows when, Talladega knew it would receive close scrutiny because of its likeness in size, speed and configuration to Daytona International Speedway. Both are owned by International Speedway Corporation (France family) and together they are the only tracks on the circuit where restrictor plates are required for a race. There have been at least three updates from Talladega since the day of Kyle’s crash, and while others are dragging their feet and disclaiming any need for SAFER barriers (You know who you are), here is a capsule of what we’ll see in Talladega this coming weekend.
Talladega Superspeedway will add an energy-absorbing barrier to three areas of its inside wall prior to its May 1-3 NASCAR race weekend. The high-banked track, configured much like Daytona International Speedway, will add SAFER barriers on its inside wall at the entrances to pit road, Turn 1 and Turn 3, track chairman Grant Lynch said Thursday in a statement. "We are committed to making Talladega Superspeedway a safe environment for drivers as well as our fans," he said. (Taken from Jayski.com March 30, 2015)
That’s a great start Mr. Lynch. Please, keep up the good work and keep adding SAFER barriers until the job is complete. A special thanks for not relying on wired tires and trying to convince the fans and media that they are “just as good” as SAFER. They are not… not by a country mile, and our drivers deserve better! Thank you for giving it to them.
Gentle readers, there have been questions as to the dating of our maps. I wish I could answer them, but in truth, the maps are only borrowed from Google, and by golly, it’s not too hard to understand that they just can’t take pictures of the entire planet on a daily basis. After all, they have all those billions of questions to answer that y’all keep asking, and they have to keep my Chrome browser limping along, which has become a full-time job for both them and me. As the saying goes,” It is what it is.” If anyone can add anything to any of these discussions, please feel free to jump right in. That’s what our comment section is for… your comments. That doesn’t mean jump in, call me stupid and jump back out again. I’m doing the very best I can, and a whole lot more than a whole lot of others.
Now dear hearts, it’s time for our Classic Country Closeout, and today we’re going to hear some train songs, and I warn you, there are more songs about trains in Classic Country than there are about trucks. First up, let’s hear from The Singing Brakeman himself, Jimmie Rodgers, with one of his classics, “Waiting for a Train”, and what a treat! I found a live performance by Jimmie himself! Please enjoy:
Next up is one from the Father of Country Music, Roy Acuff. I’m sure many are familiar with this huge hit of Roy’s, “The Wabash Cannonball.” Ah, it just doesn’t get any better than this one…
Or maybe they do get better! Here’s one from The Singing Ranger, Hank Snow, singing about “The Wreck of the Old 97”, and I can see him in front of me as I listen to Hank sing this one. What a shame that so many of the best are now gone… but I’m still here and still willing and able to share.
Hank Williams didn’t let a train song or two elude him in his short career. Here’s Hank doing one he wrote himself, but I’d say he “borrowed” the tune fairly blatantly from one we’ve already heard today. This is “Pan American.”
Forgive me Jim, but I’m sneaking in one more before the closing song. No collection of train songs could be complete without “Casey Jones.” (Jim Says: “Shoo…I thought you were going to go with ‘Baby Likes To Rock It Like A Boogie Woogie Choo Choo Train’…”)The original on this one was done by a man named Bill Murray… no, a different one… back in 1910. It’s on YouTube, but it’s of an age and style that might offend some ears, kind of tinny and scratchy. I have it by Red Foley, but YouTube hasn’t caught that one yet, so the one we’ll be hearing here is from Johnny Cash, and there is nothing tinny or scratchy about that great voice. Enjoy!
This last one is a bit newer than the rest, but I have to include it simply because it has always been billed as The Perfect Country Song. It includes all things Country in one awesome performance. This is David Allan Coe doing his smash hit, “You Never Even Called Me by My Name.” Yes, all of the voices you hear are David Allan Coe.
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!