Chattanooga Area Author Fills Need For Speed With Talladega Superspeedway Pictorial History

Monday, June 2, 2014

East Ridge author Kent Whitaker, often known as “Deck Chef,” has stepped out of his familiar genre of cookbooks and culinary titles with his second historical pictorial history book titled Talladega Superspeedway.

From Creek Indian land to a World War II airfield, Talladega Superspeedway has a history as exciting as its NASCAR races. Author Kent Whitaker chronicles the track’s development in Talladega Superspeedway, Arcadia Publishing’s newest addition to its NASCAR Library Collection. “The book could not have been written without the help of the Public Relations team and museum staff at Talladega Superspeedway,” Mr. Whitaker said. “The staff at the track and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and museum let me hang out in the museum and library with my note pad, camera, computer, and scanner for hours on end.” 

In more than 200 vintage images, Mr. Whitaker recounts the dreams, challenges, and triumphs of businessmen and race car drivers with a national dream.  Mr. Whitaker even devoted a chapter to female drivers. “Being able to include so many wonderful female drivers and record-setters in the book was a pleasure. Having the input from drivers such as Janet Guthrie and others was incredibly helpful in telling the complete story,” Mr. Whitaker said. “In addition teams from across motorsports help including Michael Waltrip Racing, Wood Brothers, Cotton Owen Garage, ARCA Racing, and even legendary gas man Chocolate Myers offered images and stories to include.”

Mr. Whitaker points out that Talladega becomes one of the largest cities during race weekends and that it is filled with history. “It started out as Alabama International Motor Speedway then finally became Talladega Superspeedway but it all started as a World War Two airstrip. Many race fans have no idea that the paved areas in the infield where they stand and park their RV’s are actually WWII runways.”

The speedway remains a local and national landmark for NASCAR fans and Mr. Whitaker thinks that his third history title, as well as his other books, would make for a great Father’s Day gift. “I happened to be standing near the tunnel entrance swapping stories with one of the track employees while taking a break from researching. A car load of visitors drove up to just have a look even though there was no race that weekend. I could see how excited the kids in the family were to be at Talladega,” Mr. Whitaker said. “I had that same feeling when my dad took me to the track and museum years ago, and when I took my son almost 20 years ago.”

The book is available at local outlets around Talladega Superspeedway, at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and Museum as well as the gift shops at the track during race weekends as well as online at several traditional retailers ranging from Barnes and Noble to Amazon and more.

Mr. Whitaker says that race fans in Chattanooga and surrounding area can contact him for a signed copy and local pickup around the Chattanooga area. “I’ll be happy to sign Talladega Superspeedway to the buyer or personalize it for a gift – just shoot me an email or visit my site.” 

You can reach Mr. Whitaker at his email address: or visit his website for more information.

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