First, RIP Lloyd Ruby. He was one of the unluckiest Indy 500 participants ever and one of the best drivers never to win it. I am lucky enough to have seen him run in person and he was always a favorite back in the golden days. He will be missed.
This will probably be the first in a series. I returned yesterday from three days in Birmingham, Alabama. The Heart of Dixie. NASCAR country. Right down the road from Talladega.
For three days, it was racing heaven. The Indy Car Series held three days of pre-season testing at Barber Motorsports Park, the Augusta National of racing. As I strolled the course I kept thinking of Spa because I got the same feeling the couple of times I visited there. I thought if I said that in public I would be laughed at, so I only told my brother. Robert Doornbos, however, said the same thing in public and he would know. The comparison is legitimate. I cannot tell you how wonderful that facility actually is. The technical nature of the circuit, elevation changes and deceptive curves make it a fun course.
I do not know how to make adequate comparisons most people can understand, so I will pander. When I think of most ISC tracks, I think of day strippers. Yes, you will get to see some nipples but you will also have to endure stretch marks, C-section scars and areas of dangling blubber. You also have a tendency to wonder about the fragrance that wafts its way through a worn out g-string.
SMI tracks are generally a cut above. Enhanced beauties loaded with perfectly rounded silicone, nicely coiffed blonde hair and plenty of glitter aboard their jiggling thangs. Still, if you decided to try and have a conversation about, say, the Treaty of Versailles, you would either get a blank stare or some vague reminiscence about visiting a state park in Ripley County.
IMS is the childhood sweetheart you married. Life is always right with her. You are perfectly happy to grow old together. She is nearly perfect in every way.
Barber Motorsports Park has elevated the game for everyone. She is an unspoiled princess on her way to a throne. A goddess. George Barber has turned a strip mine into a gold mine. The facility is a brilliantly designed showplace. They treat their customers with more courtesy and respect than any other track in the world. Just when you think you have about seen it all, something else surprises you. The museum he has probably made Tony George jealous. It is primarily known as a motorcycle museum, but that is only part of its story. He has the largest private collection of Lotus F-1 cars in the world, land speed cars, Indy Cars, sports cars, and a lot more, including exhibits about people such as John Surtees and Dan Gurney. It takes at least a day to take it in. It is set up sort of like the Guggenheim on multiple levels, accessed via circular ramps. Simply awesome.
Coming up next: Indy Cars ran there over the weekend, and lots of people showed up.