Heading Down To Barber
This morning, I’m making the three hour drive from Nashville to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, AL. I’ve never tried to pretend that this is a “news” site. It’s not. Many other IndyCar bloggers do an outstanding job of reporting the latest news, generally much quicker than the mainstream sites. I don’t care that much about trying to beat another site with a scoop. Instead, I generally like to throw out my opinion on a topic or just type away on a subject or driver that I feel passionate about one way or the other.
That being said, I have borrowed a laptop and will do my best to try and provide some short updates throughout the day. I say “do my best” because the laptop I have borrowed is a Mac and I can barely even figure out how to type a Word document. I know I can blog from my I-Phone, so if worse comes to worse I’ll tap away a few lines from it to load up here.
This is my second trip to the scenic Barber Motorsports Park. I was there for the IndyCar test a year ago, before they had announced this race would be held. I am not an expert on road courses. In fact, this is the only road course I’ve ever been to in person unless you count the infield road course at IMS when I saw the F1 cars there in 2002. One of these years, I would love to go to Road America, Watkins Glen, Mid-Ohio and Road Atlanta. Each of those tracks have their unique charm and allure that comes across on television. I’m sure it’s even better in person.
Although I concede my expertise on the subject of road courses is lacking, I do know beauty when I see it. That is the word I have to use to describe Barber. I wish I could remember who used the following phrase the other day, but when I read it I had to agree. Someone called Barber “the Augusta of racetracks”, and it’s true. The grounds are manicured like the pristine grounds of Augusta National. It’s a shame that both events are held the same weekend. Viewers will be numb to the sight of neatly manicured greens surrounded by bountiful azaleas.
The biggest question facing fans and teams alike is; will there be any passing zones? Those that claim to be in the know say there won’t be – and they do it in an emphatic way.
Going back a few months, I remembered being chastised by many for blasting the DeltaWing before I or anyone else had seen it, or before we even knew what to call it. We just referred to it as the “radical chassis”. Everyone said that I should wait and see it before denouncing it and that I was rushing to judgment. A lot of those same people are the ones complaining what a boring parade we will be facing with no passing zones – even though an Izod IndyCar Series race has never been held at Barber.
To them, I too will say; let’s not rush to judgment. Let’s wait and see how the track plays out under actual racing conditions. Perhaps those people will be able to have a big “I told you so” on Monday morning. There’s nothing wrong with that. I have to admit I enjoy having the last laugh every now and then. But based on how impressed I was with this course a year ago, I really hope the track becomes one of the favorites on the schedule.
Yes the course is narrow, but I don’t expect a parade on the scale of a Belle Isle or anything like that. It could be that there will be just enough passing opportunities to make the competition fierce. There are long, sweeping right-hand turns at both ends of the track with some tight hairpins and intermediate straightaways mixed in. Altogether, the circuit is 2.38 miles and consists of seventeen turns. There are some significant elevation changes that look more dramatic in person than on television, the steep drop after turn one in particular.
From what I’m told, it is a track that will put a lot of wear on tires as well as the drivers. It will be interesting how the red/black tire strategy plays out at a course where tire wear will be critical. I’ll also be curious to see how the drivers are holding up in the last ten laps.
I’m really looking forward to today. I have no set agenda. I’ve taken a day of vacation just to drive down by myself. I plan to roam around the paddock and the pits and just take it all in. Hopefully, I’ll conquer the Mac and be able to post several times throughout the day. You can also follow me throughout the day on my Twitter account, which is @Oilpressureblog. Unfortunately, I have a family obligation on Saturday, which forces me back to Nashville tonight. I won’t be at Barber on Saturday for qualifying, but will be bringing a carload back down with me for the race on Sunday.
Keep checking back today and I’ll keep you posted, assuming I can figure out how to do it.