Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

April 12, 2011

The Disciple Barber Indy Car Summary (Sunburn and All)

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 6:52 pm

It would be absolutely great if every venue on the Indy Car schedule was as accommodating and as glad to see the series as Barber Motorsports Park. I have been lucky enough to attend not only the first two races Indy Car has held at Barber but also their pre-season testing in 2009. Each time the red carpet was rolled out not just for the series but also for fans far and wide. They announced with pride fans in attendance were represented from 42 states and 16 other countries. The entire region promotes the event heavily, and Honda is also strongly involved because their Odyssey line is produced nearby. Both the Mayor of Birmingham and the Governor of Alabama were on hand again during pre-race festivities. At any given time at the world class museum George Barber himself might actually open the door for you.

Weather is out of the control of the track, but both Indy Car races and the ’09 test were Chamber of Commerce types of days. Each time out the infrastructure gets improved and this year it appears many more fans visited and were treated well.

As many have stated, the track is gorgeous and is often referred to as the ‘Augusta of motorsports.’ Many who visit have very little disagreement with that. The complex is manicured meticulously and creatively planted vegetation and flowers abound. Combine that with many of Randy’s new initiatives involving fan friendliness (such as big monitors and scoring pylons at various locations) and the attendance experience is vastly improved.

The track itself has a reputation for being narrow and built for two wheeled racers, but this year the Indy Cars treated the event with just about the right amount of behind-the-wheel aggression. Although Will Power dominated, actual racing behind him was the norm for most of the day. A repeat of first turn carnage in turn one was feared by some, particularly considering the downhill/uphill/downhill while turning nature of the narrow ‘Alabama roller coaster.’ There was definitely crowding and off track excursions, but turn one was relatively clean (unlike turn 5) all day. Some are considering doing away with double wides at Long Beach but I say no. Stick to the plan and do it for the fans.

Favorite radio moments included Simona de Silvestro singing ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ during a yellow and Rafeal Matos complaining about the car the whole race then finally hearing the team tell him they ‘are aware he is driving a piece of s*#!’ but that he is the driver and must figure out a way to make the best of it while they figure it out.

Barber is a track that needs very few grandstands. Our party rotated from roughly the turn 11 area (which featured a much larger fan experience area this year) and high above the Alabama roller coaster. We hope to visit for many years to come, and the feeling appears to be mutual. Great job again for the Barber folks, and it was outstanding to see such a wide swath of racing fans in the same location.




  1. Dear Defender:

    Glad you enjoyed the crash fest that was Sunday’s race…good for you that you missed the dreadful TV coverage on Versus where Bob Jenkins continually mispronounced the drivers’ names and where the cameras kept missing the on track action…I would travel to Birmingham from Florida but this track only offers general admission seating and I am not driving 12 hours to stand on a hillside… besides, Birmingham lacks any luxury hotels and that’s a shame for a historic Southern City…as for the racing, Brian Barnhard again proved his inability to officiate a race as he never even warned Power about his repeatingly cutting off Dixon on many restarts and he failed to caution the back markers about the pit falls of blocking, bonzai moves and generally poor driving…

    Comment by Neil Rubin — April 13, 2011 @ 2:37 am | Reply

    • Angry Smurf has internet access now I guess.

      Comment by Joshua Hopkins — April 13, 2011 @ 4:50 pm | Reply

  2. Hey, Joshua, did you enjoy watching half the field take each other out at both Barber and St. Pete? How about the wonderful coverage on both Versus and ABC/ESPN where both networks missed on track passes while focusing on meaningless pit stops…I am angry because for all of the steps the series takes to improve the product and draw positive attention, it seems as Indy Car continues to shoot itself in the foot as the Defender aptly points out from time to time…I don’t know whether the lack of talent on the grid, the lack of funding for quality equipment or both, is behind the crashfests we have witnessed the past two races but the teams and drivers need to clean up the show or Indy Car can forget about bringing in new fans or even keeping us die hards…

    Comment by Neil Rubin — April 13, 2011 @ 9:17 pm | Reply

    • “Lack of talent on the grid”? I know I shouldn’t, but I just can’t help it…but who are you referring to here? EJ Viso seems to be out of his depth and James Jakes lacks basically any previous career results that would lead one to believe that he belongs in an IndyCar, but the rest of the field seems pretty legit to me. Who’s offending you now that the likes of Milka and Mario Moraes are gone?

      Comment by The Speedgeek — April 14, 2011 @ 8:22 pm | Reply

  3. For what it’s worth, 20 of 25 were running at the finish at St. Pete; 18 of 26 at Barber. By my calculations this is nowhere near ‘half the field.’ lol

    Comment by Robin Mueller — April 14, 2011 @ 9:26 am | Reply

  4. I can understand Neil’s frustration. I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt for the screwups at the start/restarts at St. Pete, but to have them happen all over again at Barber’s leads me to believe they should save the double files strictly for the ovals. As for the wreaks during the race, yes, it wasn’t very professional. And with one driver leading the ENTIRE race, I’m missing the old days of the IRL, when they had multiple lead changes and multiple winners. Neil may be right, this isn’t going to win us any more fans and maybe sponsors.

    Comment by DOUG — April 14, 2011 @ 4:26 pm | Reply

  5. Hey Speedgeek, where did James Jakes, Paul Tracy, and Sebastian Bourdais qualify for the Long Beach race? And finish? Just curious.

    Comment by Robin Mueller — April 18, 2011 @ 12:39 am | Reply

    • I don’t understand your question. Are you trying to imply that James Jakes, because he finished ahead of Paul Tracy and Sebastien Bourdais (who posess 62 combined IndyCar wins) in ONE race (a statistician might tell you that that’s not exactly a proper sample size) that he is better than those two guys? I’ll admit that Jakes has been a pleasant surprise at St. Pete and Long Beach, in that he’s stayed out of trouble and on the lead lap all day (more than you can say for any of the higher thought of rookies, though I like all of their long term prospects better), but I’ll stand by my statement that a history of 3rd in British Formula Renault, 8th in British F3, 5th and 13th in the F3 Euroseries, 2 podiums (no wins) in 15 starts in GP2 Asia (not as strong a championship as the regular GP2 championship) and 3 podiums (no wins again) in 12 GP3 starts would lead anybody to believe that they were watching a future IndyCar superstar. That history tells me that there were at least one better driver in every series that he competed in, and in most cases, many more than one better driver. Sorry if Jakes is your guy, and maybe he proves me wrong and manages to beat Foyt’s win record, but if we’re talking purely about merit and past results, I’d say that he ranks about 25th out of the current grid of people who I’d expect to see win any given race.

      Comment by Kelli — April 19, 2011 @ 3:21 am | Reply

    • I don’t understand your question. Are you saying that James Jakes, because he beat Tracy and Bourdais (owners of 62 combined IndyCar wins) at ONE race (a statistician might tell you that that’s not a good sample size), is now better than those guys? Could you clarify a little?

      My point with Jakes was this: I like to see proof that guys can run up front in whatever junior formula they come from (GP2, F3, Lights, Atlantics, sprint cars, whatever, I’m not all that picky), that they can win races and that they’ve at least contended for a championship somewhere along the line. Jakes’s history (according to Wikipedia): 3rd in British Formula Renault championship, 8th in British F3, 5th in F3 Euroseries (1 win), 13th in F3 Euroseries, 15 starts in GP2 Asia series (which is not as strong a series as the regular GP2 series) with 2 podiums and no wins, 2 starts in regular GP2 series with a best finish of 15th, 12 starts in GP3 series with 3 podiums (no wins again). It’s entirely true that he’s been a pleasant surprise so far in IndyCar this season, in that he’s kept his nose clean and finished on the lead lap (more than you can say for any of the other rookies thus far, though they’ve all had a better best finish than he has), but those past results do not scream out “future superstar” to me. Sorry if Jakes is your guy, but if I’m placing bets on who’s going to win any given race this year, Jakes is about 25th on my list of guys who’d get my money.

      Comment by The Speedgeek — April 20, 2011 @ 3:09 am | Reply

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