The Race Against COVID-19 at the Talladega Superspeedway

Person’s hands with blue gloves prepare vaccination with a syringe and small bottle.

ATSDR played an essential role in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, working with CDC’s Increasing Community Access to Testing (ICATT) team to ensure access to testing and vaccinations in an approach that was effective, convenient, and most of all ⎯ fun.

In the summer of 2021, ATSDR and the ICATT team collaborated with the COVID-19 Testing and Diagnostics Working Group from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), and the Alabama National Guard to increase the number of people getting tested or vaccinated for COVID-19 in the United States.

Person with N95 mask has hand on the steering wheel in a car looking up at someone is holding a clipboard.

To accomplish this goal, the team crafted a novel way to encourage people to get tested or vaccinated that was

Three faceless people under a conversation bubble and the word “approachable.”


A hand holding a clock and the word “convenient”.


A piggy bank with a dollar sign above it and the word “free”.


An image of a star and the word “unique.”


The unique incentive?
Yellow car driving around the Talladega Superspeedway with “This is Talladega” on a white banner behind it.

Getting a COVID-19 test and/or vaccination?
You get to take 2 laps around the Talladega Superspeedway!
Here’s how it worked:
  • Take two laps in your own car
  • Decide whether you want a test or vaccine
  • Find one of the many stations set up in the racetrack bays
  • Quickly get your test or vaccine
  • Get your fact sheet about keeping yourself and others safe from COVID-19
  • Leave (and hopefully share your knowledge with others)

“The event was a huge success.”

A faceless person, a collection tube, a swab and the words” 124 people were tested.”

people were tested.

): A faceless person, a needle, and the words “86 people were vaccinated.”

people were vaccinated.

A faceless person saying, “I felt like a millionaire.”

“I felt like a millionaire,” said one participant after completing his laps around the Superspeedway.

Benefits of this innovative approach included the following:
  • Three faceless people standing under a heart.
    It took testing and vaccines to where people live, work, and play.
  • Three faceless people surrounded by a magnifying glass.
    It provided insights on why people are hesitant to get tested or vaccinated.
  • Three faceless people inside of two arrows going in different directions.
    It demonstrated the advantages of creative engagement with hesitant populations.
  • A lightbulb with 3 show arrows on each side.
    It spread accurate testing and vaccine knowledge to counter misinformation.
  • Three faceless people with a checkmark over each person.
    It persuaded resistant participants to get a COVID-19 test or vaccination.
  • Three faceless people with one with both arms up, another with their right arm up.
    It transformed participants into trusted sources for their communities.

“When you are trying to reach people during a response, you have to understand where they are coming from and go the extra mile. Reach out to them where they are and where it is convenient. We learned we had to go where people were, rather than asking them to come to us.”

 — Sue Casteel, MS, environmental health scientist, ATSDR Region 4 health education and community engagement coordinator

Additional information about CDC’s COVID-19 response efforts is available at