Eric Church’s Hit Song “Talladega” Was Actually Inspired By Daytona: “Talladega Lined Up Better”

Eric Church and Chase Elliott
Lunch with Lindsay

Since the 2014 release of Eric Church’s album The Outsiders, “Talladega” has become a staple of his live shows, with fans busting out flags of their favorite drivers (usually Dale Earnhardt). But according to Eric, the song isn’t even really about NASCAR, and what’s more, it wasn’t even inspired by the iconic Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. The hit single was actually inspired by Daytona… where the NASCAR Cup Series will be kicking off the 2024 season this weekend.

Eric discussed his fourth #1 hit during an appearance on Lindsay Czarniak’s podcast, Lunch with Lindsay, last year, alongside NASCAR champion Chase Elliott. According to Eric, he was playing a festival in Daytona, Florida at the same time as NASCAR was in Daytona for their July 4 weekend race:

“Ironically, when I wrote that song, I was on the bus at a festival on July 4th in Daytona. The Daytona July 4th race was happening, and we were watching it.

I was with a songwriter of mine. And we were watching the race, and they showed the infield and you had all the people in their campers, they had the flags… I was like man, it was just like a music festival. It was like Woodstock. And we started talking about it, and I was like, well we could just write this.”

But despite the fact that the song was inspired by a race at Daytona, Eric said they just couldn’t get “Daytona” to fit into the song… it didn’t line up right with the rest of the words:

“We couldn’t get Daytona to line up right. For whatever reason Talladega lined up better. So we wrote it to that. We kinda picked a path using those pictures and wrote the song.”

Although it’s become an anthem of sorts for NASCAR fans, and is even used on the TV broadcasts every year during the Talladega race, Eric says the song isn’t even really about a NASCAR race at all – and it could be about any experience that you have with your friends:

“It wasn’t about the race. It was about the experience of the people experiencing the race. You mentioned earlier about, you thought you were missing out on life if you weren’t. That’s it. That’s the whole thing.

It’s not about racing… could it have been football, could it have been soccer. It doesn’t matter. It’s about being with the people and experiencing that and letting that be a memory marker for their life. And that’s really what it was.”

That’s what I love about Eric’s music: A song that’s seemingly just a story about some friends piling into a camper and heading to a NASCAR race, but it’s about so much more than that. It’s about making memories, and connecting those memories to a time in your life. And despite the fact that it’s not really about a race, I have a feeling there will be more than a few people blasting this one on Talladega Boulevard this NASCAR season. And perhaps, even at Daytona this weekend.

Listen to Eric’s entire interview with Lindsay Czarniak here:

And of course, Eric’s hit song:

2024 Cup Series Schedule

NASCAR released the Cup Series schedule for 2024, and it features a number of changes from years past.

As expected, the annual summer race at Daytona will no longer be the final event of the regular season, with that title going to Darlington for the Southern 500. Instead, Daytona will be held the week before the Labor Day race at Darlington, and will be the next to last race before the playoffs, putting even more importance on the Southern 500 at the tricky South Carolina racetrack as it becomes the final opportunity for drivers to earn the opportunity to race for the championship.

The Bristol dirt experiment is officially dead too, with the race’s traditional Easter Sunday date going to Richmond International Raceway while NASCAR returns to the concrete at Bristol for the spring race on March 17. (So they don’t get Easter, but at least they have St. Patrick’s Day).

There will also be a new road course in the playoffs, as Watkins Glen moves from its traditional late August date to September 15. And the playoffs will now begin at Atlanta, one of two superspeedways in the playoffs along with Talladega.

The only other unanswered question that falls into place with the release of the 2024 schedule is whether NASCAR would return to Chicago over the July 4th weekend for their street race, an event that debuted this year amid controversy and questions over whether the city would have the sport back next year.

Well it looks like Chicago was happy enough with the 2023 event that they’re going to honor their contract and give NASCAR another shot, with the series returning to the Windy City on July 7 for the second annual street race.

Overall, there weren’t a ton of surprises on the schedule that hadn’t already been leaked, but with the changes to Daytona’s race date and the lack of new tracks other than Iowa, chances are there are going to be some fans who are disappointed that NASCAR decided to change things up.

Here’s the entire 2024 schedule:

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