Monday, April 19, 2010

Talladega infield bus, where the party never begins

Talladega weekend on top of this bus means work for these guys.

An tattered Blue Bird conversion bus caught my attention as I cruised through the infield area at Talladega Superspeedway. Rust and flaking paint are not uncommon on many of the recycled school buses that make the trek to Talladega for NASCAR races. This one was different because it lacked a colorful paint scheme to mimic the owners favorite driver. This Blue Bird has it's own colorful history. It hasn't moved from its location, near Turn 3 in years and was once owned by NASCAR president Mike Helton.
Looking for wrecks, checking for damage to wall
A trio of men were standing on its rooftop platform, sipping water and 7UP. All attentively watching the Nextel Cup practice. Not a beer in sight. These guys were working for Cheaha Construction, located in Munford, Alabama. I was invited to chat, up on the weathered platform. “On race weekend, it's our job to fix the speedway wall, should a car damage it in a collision,” said Ken Dymarski. Not long after he said that, Dale Earnhardt Jr. blew a tire and hit the wall in Turn 4. Armed with binoculars, the men assessed the damage to the wall. In some situations, these guys have to weld sections of steel back together. Two men in a red Dodge 4X4 pick-up truck, loaded with foam soft wall material were on standby. All clear. Earnhardt Jr.’s car didn’t damage the SAFER barrier or the retaining wall. No need for repairs this time.
NASCAR lineage
Home base for Cheaha Constructions track operations has been this old bus for the last twenty years. The owner of Cheaha Construction bought the bus from NASCAR president, Mike Helton, more than two decades ago. At one time the Blue Bird bus was a communications vehicle for NASCAR. I climbed down from the roof and took a peek at the interior. The retro vibe from the outside continues throughout the cabin area. Two Cheaha workmen were enjoying a break from the heat and watching TV. Vintage 1970s curtains block the light and colorful infield scenery.

Next time your at Talladega take look at this time capsule. Who knows how long this almost permanent fixture will remain?
Cheaha Construction workers take a break inside the Blue Bird bus.

Foam for the soft walls is ready if needed.

Windows up and A/C cranked, this Dodge waits for disaster.

The Cheaha Construction bus is a speck in the 212-acre Talladega infield.

The bus where the party never begins.

Got a cool old car, truck or bus? 
Send info and photos to junkyardlife here.

My test drive of a 1972 Formula Firebird here.

A Cadillac bought by Elvis sits on the side of the road. See it here.

Or find out if 1957 Chevy four-door are cool here.

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