Call this an extended editor’s pick for the drinking set. The best racecar bar.
If you drive through Talledega, Ala., on a race weekend and see the miles and miles of RV shantytowns camped outside the hallowed concrete circle, even ye of littlest faith will find it hard to deny that auto racing really is the soccer of the South. The futbol of the foothills, if you will.
It’s that very same passion that’s in full effect at The Pit Stop Sports Bar (or just “The Pit”) in Alexander. It’s one part reverence for the sport and one part “woooo, boy!”
Inside, there’s not a single square inch of wall space that’s not covered with racing memorabilia, from the framed rally cars on the wall to the dented, debodied racecar doors hanging from the ceiling. You can bet most of the regulars will be in NASCAR hats, shirts or mechanic blues. Even the televisions keep racing, racing news and racing disasters on a constant hum. And the lights above the pool tables? Glowing stock cars. The small, brown roadhouse even sits on hallowed Arkansas racing ground, right in front of the Benton Speedbowl (that’s the I-30 Speedway to the uninitiated), the place where racing megahero Mark Martin first cut his tires as a teen-ager and Burt Reynolds strutted around the dirt track in 1973’s “White Lightning.”
In this bar, the longneck beers are cheap, the cigarette fog is thick and the pulled pork barbecue sandwiches are smoky, sloppy and crispy with slaw. Heck, the sandwiches are probably ready to stand up as some of the best in Central Arkansas. It’s the type of amazing, flavorful, fresh grub that catches you unexpectedly, shooting your eyebrows up while your first bite hangs halfway out of your mouth because it’s impossible to chew and say “what?!” at the same time.
I may not know my Richard Petty from my Ricky Rudd, but I definitely know cheap beer and good barbecue and The Pit, racing gear and all, serves up some of the best of both.