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TALLADEGA, Ala. — In auto racing, there is simply no place like the big track outside this town in rural Alabama. Talladega International Speedway is the longest course in the Nascar circuit, and its turns are the steepest. Its crowds are the most boisterous.

It also has its own jail. The “holding facility,” as track officials prefer to call it, is in a white cinder-block building just outside the track at Turn Three. It’s needed because the two races held each year at Talladega are known as the wildest, rowdiest parties in Nascar.

More than 200,000 people descend on the track for its April and October events. Most of them camp out for the better part of a week in tents, trailers or mobile homes in the track’s infield, or on the 2,000 acres of open land that is part of the speedway’s grounds. Many are hard-drinking, hard-core fans who whoop it up for days.

“You get that many people together and naturally you’re going to have some who get over-beveraged and get into trouble,” Jimmy Kilgore, the chief deputy in the Talladega County sheriff’s department, said on a sunny afternoon just before the Aaron’s 499, the nearly-500-mile race that took place on April 30.


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