Alabama State Parks and Talladega Superspeedway recognized seven-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson Sunday with the dedication of a special cycling route from the track to Cheaha State Park, the highest point in Alabama. It will be called “Jimmie Johnson’s Trek to Mt. Cheaha.”
“This is an absolute honor to have this cycling route in my name,” said Johnson, the two-time Talladega Superspeedway winner, who is making his final start at the track in Sunday’s YellaWood 500. “Back when the schedule was different, we used to get a group of at least 30 team members and friends to go do this ride on a Saturday afternoon. We even had guys who had been previous Tour de France winners come and ride with us and friends from out of state and it just became a really great way to spend a Saturday – suffering on a bike (laughs). This route became one of our favorite rides of the year and there are lots of stories, a few injuries and some bizarre incidents where we have been chased by dogs – but I always look back on these rides and smile because I truly enjoyed doing them.“
“It’s no joke to climb Mt. Cheaha but the satisfaction of accomplishment when you get to the top and can look out over the incredible Alabama countryside – it’s quite a feeling. When we finished the ride we also would enjoy a local pizza and beer. This is one of the coolest gifts I’ve ever received and I’m thankful to Talladega Superspeedway and the state of Alabama for being so thoughtful. I hope to come back and make the climb again in years to come.”
The scenic 55.5-mile roundtrip to the highest point in Alabama (2,407 feet above sea level) is located in the town of Delta at Cheaha State Park (alapark.com), offering breathtaking views and adventurous recreational activities.
“Jimmie Johnson is not only one of the greatest ambassadors in the history of NASCAR but also in all of sports,” said Talladega Superspeedway President Brian Crichton. “While we will remember his iconic victories at Talladega Superspeedway, we are so thankful of his support of our venue, our region and our state of Alabama. His legacy will continue here with his success on the track, but also with the Jimmie Johnson Trek to Mt. Cheaha.”
The route will start at the track’s main entrance at the Talladega Superspeedway monument. It will be signified by a large checkered start/finish line painted on the asphalt, along with a beautiful sign that showcases the complete route, along with a photo of Johnson.
“We are honored by Jimmie’s support for Cheaha State Park and the surrounding communities by highlighting these special places through his love of cycling,” said Greg Lein, Alabama State Parks Director. “We encourage other cyclists to explore Jimmie’s route and experience this beautiful section of the state.”
After departing NASCAR’s Most Competitive track, the scenic journey goes through a host of different elevations with different slopes and various turns while crossing creeks, a lake and witnessing the absolute beauty of nature featuring rounded ridges, immaculate terrain and tremendous forests.
“I’d like to thank the Talladega Superspeedway and the Alabama Tourism Department for their partnership in creating this unique outdoor recreational experience,” said Chris Blankenship, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “We’d also like to thank Jimmie Johnson for sharing his trek to the Cheaha State Park area with anyone who has an interest in cycling.”
Johnson has competed in 36 NASCAR Cup Series races at Talladega. His 2011 victory will go down in history as one of the greatest as he came from fifth place coming out of turn four on the final lap to win by a NASCAR record two one thousandths of a second (0.002). He has a total of 13 top-10 finishes at Talladega, including three runnerup efforts.
Sunday’s YellaWood 500 (188 laps) gets the green flag at 1:00 p.m. CDT (NBC, SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90 & MRN). Fans can keep up with all the happenings at the biggest, baddest race track on the planet by following Talladega Superspeedway on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and by downloading the track’s mobile app. For additional information, call 1-877-Go2-DEGA.