Tim Knight has just two weeks of vacation each year, and he spends them both in his RV just outside Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway, according to a report the Birmingham News.
Each April and October, he returns to the first spot on the right at the private Talladega RV Park, builds a big cinder-block fire pit and starts reconnecting with friends. In fact, Knight, a 36-year-old computer network engineer from Huntsville, said he enjoys being here as much as in the stands.
“It’s become now to where the camaraderie and fellowship of hanging out at the campground is more important than going to the race,” Knight said. “The early and middle part of the week is just as good as the weekend.”
Knight has even been named the honorary mayor of the park, a title he won one night at a campfire sing-along with about 100 park visitors. The park also claims a sheriff and chaplain, has regular garbage pickup at each parking spot and has daily doorstep newspaper delivery.
“It’s literally like a little city,” said Al Craig, whose family owns and runs Talladega RV Park and who likens it to “Brigadoon,” the musical about a village that appears just one day a century.
The same could be said for the entire stretch of Superspeedway Boulevard, which swells to hold more than 100,000 people each race week. Accommodations range from the famously rowdy, free, unreserved spots to luxury trackside spaces, which cost more than $1,000 for race week.
Somewhere in the middle are the locations such as Talladega RV Park, which offers about 250 hookup spaces for $300 each. Twice a year Craig’s family, which used to own the land the racetrack was built on, pitches in to mow the grass, stock ice and firewood, and load in the visitors who start arriving a week before race day.
The Saturday arrivals included Paul Taylor, 49, of Jasper, who reserves 14 spaces each April for a group of friends. The upscale RVers – their rides start at $600,000, and two of the Prevost motor homes top the $1 million mark – set up a tent and tables the night before the race and hold a steak dinner with about 20 bottles of wine.
“Everybody cooks and drinks and has a good time,” Taylor said.
For visitors here, the partying is of a different sort than up the road at the free parks that tend to get more rowdy.
Bonnie and Joel Robison of Millington, Tenn., for instance, prefer a quiet game of horseshoes. This is their fourth year at the park, and they’ll be joined this weekend by friends from Florida, Louisiana and Texas. They also look forward to making new friends, to whom they may offer a helping of red beans on rice with deer sausage, cooked on a portable stove.
“It’s like back in the 1950s or early’60s, when everybody met on the front porch and said, `Hey, do you want a soda? Come on in,'” said Bonnie Robison, 57, a retired Marine. “That’s what this is nowadays.”