Go Fast in Alabama
At 2.66 miles, Talledega Superspeedway is the longest and fastest NASCAR track in the U.S. Justifiably, it's a kind of mecca for civilian speed freaks who want to get behind the wheel of a retired 500-horsepower race car and muscle through steep turns with 33-degree banking. Newbies won't hit pro speeds of 210 miles per hour, but 180 is within reach — "the equivalent of a football field every second," says Ronda Robertson of Racing Adventure, an outfitter that offers classes at the speedway (from $395 for a six-lap teaser to $3,295 for a 60-lap package, which can be done in a day).
The track is in Lincoln, Alabama, about 50 miles east of Birmingham, and lodging is limited to chain hotels. But 35 miles southeast is Cheaha State Park — at 2,400 feet, the highest spot in Alabama — which offers a great alternative: four rustic cabins with wood-burning fireplaces and panoramic views ($142 a night).