A Fan’s View of Barber Motorsports Park
Barber is usually the beginning of our racing season. We changed that a little this year and went to NOLA first, but we always look forward to Barber (we do hope next year’s NOLA is drier). Speaking of dry, before the deluge came, I decided to take you on a tour through the Barber Motorsports grounds, not through the pits and the paddock area, there are hundreds of driver and car photos scattered around the internet, but this is where a casual fan would go.
We begin at the tram stop that is at the top of the hill around turn 2. Turn two provides some of the best unobstructed hillside race-viewing. This year they added a white line that if you have one of those giant tents, you cannot go beyond the line. Which is great news for those of us who simply haul chairs or a blanket. Several beaches I know could do with this rule.
One of the many things I like about Barber are the large monitors placed around the viewing areas, so you don’t miss any of the action. Turn 2 is usually where we sit to watch the race, so we love the monitors.
We then swing by the Barber Motorsports Museum and what post would be complete without the naked guys on wheels sculpture? There are maps at each of the tram stops and a guide positioned so that you don’t get lost. I have seen a lot more kids at the race this year and couldn’t resist taking this shot of a little girl and her Grandpa (in a relationship like theirs, he could only be called Grandpa).
Now we are at Tram Stop 1, which is the Fan Village. There was a downpour Friday night and the grounds people handled the wet areas with aplomb. The entrance by the lake was soaked through, so they roped off an area for the fans to go around. A few fans went through the much, but most enjoyed the walk on the soft (and dry) pine needles beside a viewing area with nice big boulders for sitting on.
When you enter the main Fan Zone, there are lots of vendors there to make your experience more fun. The Fan Zone is sponsored by TNT Fireworks, so you can try your hand at spinning the wheel to win one of several prizes (these are really good prizes—hats, t-shirts, fireworks). The First-Aid station is next and they are hopeful for race day sunshine. The Cooper Tire girls are there as well, although they do distract a bit from the tires.
Scattered throughout the area are IndyCar and Barber Motorsports merchandise tents. We are still waiting for the new Kanaan NTT Data die-cast to make it’s appearance, hopefully by Indy. There are other vendors there showing some high tech wares. I really thought the Key|Smart was pretty cool, since I am always losing my keys. It would be a great Father’s Day gift (no I was not paid to promote—I just thought they were great). What tour would be complete without the Ferris wheel that came from Michael Jackson’s Neverland? I actually got George to go up for a ride with me yesterday, it was fun and a great view of the park.
Then you enter the IndyCar Fan Village. This is always a well-run activity. You start by getting a Firestone Bracelet and have it scanned at select booths and at the end, you get a prize. You could test your skill at racing some remote control “tires,” test your tire-pumping skills, and get a Firestone tattoo. Something for everyone. It was fun that one of the prizes was a Honda Fit keychain (the cutest keychain EVER) and the have the very same Honda Fit at the entrance to the park. Maybe if I add some water…
George joined me, and we settled into our seats to watch the second practice of the day. Who knew that they had guys that ran out there before every race and changed the signs in the grass depending on the sponsor. We then hiked our way through the azaleas (ah, springtime I the south) back to the tram for the ride back to where we started.
We drove past the inflatable church (how has it lasted through 6 years?) and saw something new—the Barber Proving Ground, which is a Karting track that is under construction at the moment. There are also some new art pieces that we haven’t seen before, a colorful horse and some metal flowers. This track just keeps getting better.
So concludes my tour of the track as a fan, what kind of fan would I be if I didn’t include a gratuitous pic of my companion? Hope to see you here next year if you didn’t make it this year.