Monday, November 1, 2010

Talladega Nights - Smoke and Bones gets a payday!

On Thursday morning we left Birmingham and made our way to the town of Talladega. By the time we got there it was lunchtime so naturally I sourced out the local roadside barbecue joint for some southern cooked food. After a plate of chopped pork, beans, slaw and Texas toast I was satiated enough to continue on. We drove past the turn off to the speedway and made our way to our motel in the small town of Jacksonville. Jacksonville, Oxford, and Anniston, all make up a small trio of nearby towns with the state University being in Jacksonville. Once settled into our new home for the weekend we decided to venture out and explore small town Alabama. The state University is very nice with lots of older restored buildings on campus, making it look like something right out of a movie or off of a postcard. My wife would call it "quaint".

Friday morning we headed back to Talladega to get set up for "Degaque", Alabama's $50,000 State Barbeque Championship. The teams that started rolling in were very impressive and it soon becomes clear what is happening this weekend.
-1. $50,000 is up for grabs and,
-2. the Team Of The Year points race for the Kansas City Barbecue Society is in the final stretch.
As I walk the rows of teams I see nothing but the best; Jacks Old South, Lotta Bull, Cool Smoke, Pellet Envy, Smokin Triggers, Smokin Guns, Bub-ba-q etc., etc., and the list goes on. I am unfortunately cooking out of a Rubbermaid container full of spices from Walmart, one used borrowed cooker (courtesy of Randy Biggler of Alabama), one new cooker that I bought online and had shipped to the home of John Swift (President of the Alabama Barbecue Society), and a new kettle that I bought at Home Depot that I have never even cooked with. As I walk the row of cookers and look at the setups and come to my little spot I cant help but think "what am I even doing here?"

As I struggled to get setup and start cooking it becomes very clear that this may become the most difficult and handicapped cook I will ever attempt. No matter what happens I realize that by tomorrow it will be over and nothing but memories will linger. After that and it is race time! As usual, I quickly make friends with both teams on either side of me. One is from Alabama and the other one from Virginia. We cook our briskets and our butts overnight on the new cooker that I ordered online. By the time we had turned our meats in and taken down our temporary shanty for the night it had become time for the awards to be handed out. Through all the obstacles to overcome and the calibre of teams we were up against I was shocked to hear our name get called for 3rd place in Brisket! I looked at Melissa and I said "are you kidding me! 3rd at Degaque!". Because of that call, we got to take home a nice slice of the $50,000 pie for our first comp in Alabama!

1 Sweat's BBQ
2 Cool Smoke
3 Smoke and Bones BBQ
4 The Smoking Hills
5 Lotta Bull BBQ
6 Smokin' Guns BBQ
7 Swiggin' Pig
10 Smokin' Triggers

Sunday morning we get up in anticipation of racing. Yes I am finally going to get to see my first NASCAR race in person. As we approach Talladega Super speedway it is buzzing with activity early. The highways all around have state troopers directing the large volume of traffic in to the grounds. There are literally thousands of R.V.'s that have been camping all weekend for miles around. I have been to Indy races in Vancouver but it does not match the spectacle that we are witnessing before us. After making our way through the individual teams merchandising trailers (I didn't make it out hands free, thanks to the Danica Patrick/Go trailer), we found our seats which were about eleven rows up in the main grand stand. The one thing about Talladega is the size of the track; it is known as the biggest and the fastest and believe me, it is big! I was mesmerized by it. The track is roughly 2.6 miles long and the cars were lapping it in just over one minute!

The race got underway and I can say that television does it no justice! 200mph and literally inches between them is unbelievable to watch. The sound and the smell was awesome! I have heard the Indy engines but 40 high powered V-8'S with open exhaust pipes is deafening. I loved every minute of it. I know that the Daytona 500 will be on my list of events to see in the future. Florida in February sounds good!

From here we are off to Atlanta for a few days. last year I swam with the sharks and rays at the Georgia Aquarium and I have every intent on sharing that experience with Melissa.


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