Talladega And The Curse Of Fonty Flock

Brandon Reed

Brandon Reed

By Brandon Reed
Posted in Columns 4/15/11

There is no denying it.  Over the years, a lot of odd and flat out weird things have happened at the 2.88-mile Talladega Superspeedway.

First off is the style of racing the track, with cars running in packs and often ending up with a multi-car crash that can eliminate the best cars in the field, opening the door for other drivers who may not have had a prayer to score a win.

Then there’s just all of the downright strange happenings that have occurred at the track once known as Alabama International Motor Speedway.   In 1987, a cut tire sent Bobby Allison’s Buick soaring through the air, tearing out a huge amount of the speedway’s catch fence and almost landing the 1983 Winston Cup champion in the stands.

One of the strangest and scariest moments at Talladega occurred in 1987 when Bobby Allison's car became airborne after cutting a tire.

During one event in 1973, 1970 Winston Cup champ Bobby Isaac, who was piloting a Ford for legendary car owner Bud Moore, piloted just 89 laps before suddenly pulling the car into the garage area and getting out.  When asked why, Isaac said a voice told him to park the car, and that was exactly what he did.

In 1986, fans and officials were stunned when a fan stole one of the track’s pace cars during the pre-race ceremony, and tore around the track at high speed until he was hemmed in and arrested by the police.

And that’s not to mention all the crashes and other strange goings on that have occurred at Talladega, like the time officials could not get the flag to go all the way up on the flag pole before an event.

Now, there are some who say the reason so many strange things have occurred is because the speedway was built on land cursed by Native Americans who were forced off the land many years prior.

But maybe, just maybe, it’s because of the curse of a Georgia racing legend who felt cheated out of his rightful place at the track.

Georgia Racing Hall of Famer Truman Fontello Flock, better known as Fonty, competed in 153 NASCAR Sprint Cup events, winning 19 of them.  He was also the 1947 National Stock Car Racing Champion.  In his career, he won at all the major speedways, including on the beach at Daytona, Darlington, Lakewood, Oconeechee, North Wilkesboro and Langhorne, just to name a few.

Driving the number 14 Ford for Raymond Parks, Fonty Flock won the 1947 National Stock Car championship, which one year later would become NASCAR.

Fonty was one of the most likeable and most popular drivers of his era.  His driving career came to a halt after a grinding three-car crash at Darlington in 1957 that left him in the hospital for several weeks.

Fonty remained close to racing, and in the mid 1960s, hatched a scheme to build a track to rival Bill France’s Daytona located just over the state line in Alabama.

Flock located the property where Talladega Superspeedway was eventually built.  The location was perfect.  It was halfway between Birmingham and Atlanta, and would be adjacent to the Talladega Airport.  It was the perfect spot for a track that would be a monument to racing and to the Flock family.

Fonty traveled to Daytona Beach to discuss the project with France.  The two of them flew to the spot in a small airplane, with Fonty mapping out the track from the air as France listened.

France liked the idea, and said he wanted to take control of the project.  Fonty was to be cut in as a major stockholder.

But after France bought the land, Fonty Flock was forgotten about.  He soon was stricken with cancer, and did not the opportunity to take the matter to court.

“Fonty said he was going to haunt him (France) and the Talladega track when he died,” said Tim Flock, Fonty’s brother, in the January 1993 edition of American Racing Classics.  “And he has been haunting the track all these years.  Fonty told everybody.  There have been some freak things happen over there.  I don’t even go over there.  Fonty didn’t say anything about haunting the place getting anybody killed.  He was going to haunt it because of Bill France and NASCAR.”

So, when something strange and inexplicable happens this weekend during the running of the NASCAR events at Talladega Superspeedway, just remember it might not be that strange at all.

Not if you believe in the curse of Fonty Flock.

Brandon Reed is the editor and publisher of Georgia Racing History.com.

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