Archive for April, 2018

Barber Sunday Wrap-Up

Posted in IndyCar on April 22, 2018 by Oilpressure

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The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama ran twenty-three laps in a downpour before two red flags stopped the action for the day. About two hours passed before they made the decision to postpone the race until Monday at 11:00 CDT on MSNBC, instead of NBCSN. Monday’s forecast doesn’t look much better.

Only once before have we left a Verizon IndyCar Series race when we said to ourselves “that wasn’t a whole lot of fun”, and that was when we left the one and only IndyCar race at NOLA in 2015. Sunday was the second. Everyone on the grounds, including fans and drivers, were frustrated with the on again, off again pace of the day.

They started rolling the cars out to the pits at 1:20, so we went out to the pits to take it it in. At 1:25 it started raining. No problem, we had an umbrella. At 1:30, the bottom fell out. As we stood in the pits trying to stay dry under a collapsible umbrella, I checked the radar on my phone. It showed that we were just on the leading edge of the big system we had been told to expect.

Call me a fair-weather fan; but Susan and I both decided to head to the Media Center. I could tell me jeans were starting to get soaked as the wind started blowing sideways. I’m a die-hard, but not that much of a die-hard.

It was a good move. The rain never let up and got harder as the red flag period progressed.

Susan and I both have to work tomorrow, so we will drive back tonight. There will be no post tomorrow. I will have an abbreviated Random Thoughts post here on Tuesday, after I watch my DVR tomorrow night. Check back Tuesday.

George Phillips

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Getting It Right

Posted in IndyCar on April 22, 2018 by Oilpressure

Susan
By Susan Philips

Most tracks should come to Barber Motorsports Park to take notes about how to execute a race. Not that everything goes flawlessly, but it is pretty darn close.

Saturday showed record attendance of more than 34,000 people attending qualifying day. Which is about 12,000 more than the average Saturday attendance. The weather was perfect and we saw a lot of new fans. They must be wisely spending their promotion dollars in different markets, because the crowd was more diverse than in previous years. Wise marketing plans don’t really promote to the traditional fan—they are going to come rain or shine. Great idea.

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The grounds are kept immaculate. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen trash on the grounds. They have ample trash receptacles and the fans seem to respect the beautiful setting and act accordingly.

The people who volunteer here are the very definition of Southern Hospitality. If they can’t help you, they find someone who can.

The safety crew (Paddock Marshalls) directing people, cars, tire carts, and various racing vehicles has stepped it up a bit. Maybe they have taken notes from The Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Yellow Shirts. They were doing a good job—of course there were a few overzealous Paddock Marshalls, but preventing accidents when you have so many people milling about (and a lot of them texting and not paying attention) is paramount to a great event.

As stated many times over, Barber Motorsports Park is a beautiful facility. We missed the azaleas, but there are still many plants in bloom on the grounds, which adds to the overall ambience of the track. The grass is a beautiful, lush green. Perfect for children to roll down the hills and land on a soft carpet overlooking turn 2.

There are many options for fans.

This track has RV sites that overlook the track. Be aware that there are no electrical or water hookups. They pretty much sell out every year.

You can spend $200 and buy a pass to Cocina at the Track–Cocina includes a breakfast & lunch buffet, afternoon hors d’oeuvres, and a complimentary bar. General Admission and Kamtek Garage access are included with each ticket purchased. This is a pretty great deal considering it includes food, drink, shelter, and a covered viewing area—a especially excellent value because of the rain forecasted for today. Not to mention that you don’t have to schlep chairs, coolers, and the like around the track to find the perfect viewing spot.

I could not find the pricing, but you can also purchase passes to the Stella Artois Paddock Club on the 2nd floor of Race Control overlooking the start/finish line. Paddock Club passes include premium, all-day food and beverage, access to the 2nd and 3rd floor viewing patios, VIP parking, and a dedicated shuttle service. Passes also include Grounds Admission and a KAMTEK Garage Pass.

You can also purchase a membership to the Barber Motorsports Museum. They have various levels of membership and they can be found here: http://www.barbermuseum.org/the-museum/become-a-member/

Last year we were fortunate enough to watch the race from the bridges overlooking the track. It was a great way to view the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama.

Misses

The lack of beer vendors at the track. I’m not sure if this forced everyone into the Wine Down with Indy tent, where they had wineries where you could sample local wines. It was packed—we chose not to enter the throng. The only beer we saw that was sold on the grounds was in an unmarked tent between two food vendors. It would be an understatement to say that they did a booming business.

It seemed like there weren’t as many food vendors as last year and I really missed the Steak and Shake booth. It was really good last year.

The trams. It seems like there were fewer/smaller trams this year and it took a long time to get from one side of the track to the other.

The Porta-potties. Normally this track keeps all restrooms stocked with items like toilet paper (not such a big deal to over half of you). You were hard-pressed to find a portable bathroom facility that was stocked with toilet paper and the essential hand sanitizer. Makes me glad I always carry tissue in my race bag. It could also be the fact that there were about 10,000 more people here on Saturday than any other year.

We love this track and the Southern Hospitality provided in Alabama. This is our 9th year and it gets better every year. If I know the track management, they will be carefully examining how to allow for a larger crowd and act accordingly. Hopefully, the crowds will keep getting larger every year.

It’s Race Day At Barber

Posted in IndyCar on April 22, 2018 by Oilpressure

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Greetings from an already wet Barber Motorsports Park. It was a cloudy and ominous sky when we left the hotel. Within five minutes, it was raining. Fortunately, it had stopped as we made our way from the parking lot into the Media Center, but it is a sign of what the day will be like – dodging raindrops. The current radar shows that we are currently in a pocket, but looking to the west – it looks bad.

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As long as it is a light rain, things will be fine. But this track has poor drainage. If there are big downpours between now and the drop of the green flag, there could be problems. I don’t know what the contingency plans are if there is standing water o the track. I don’t think tomorrow’s forecast is any better than today’s. One thing is certain, if the race runs tomorrow – we won’t be here. Susan and I both have to be at work tomorrow.

The Pro Mazda race is going on as I type. Looking at the monitors in here, they don’t seem to be having any problems. The Indy Lights race scheduled t be run at noon, will now run at 10:45. The Verizon IndyCar Series race has been moved up to 2:01 CDT from 2:30.

I may be hedging on my prediction. While Scott Dixon has driven in the rain many times and may still win this race, if it is a relatively heavy rain, but they still race – my money may be shifted to Sébastien Bourdais. He is starting third and probably has more experience than anyone racing in the wet. We’ll see.

The good news is that yesterday’s crowd set a record attendance for this event for a Saturday. Over 34,000 paying customers were on the grounds yesterday. The bad news is that there are very few fans here so far today. Normally at this time, the hill overlooking Turn Two would be packed with fans trying to jockey for a place to put up their tents. Today, not so much.

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Susan is currently finishing up her promised post. She will have it up here shortly. This will be my last post here until after the race, or if there is a determination that there will be no race. Check back for Susan’s post in a bit. In the meantime, for more photos, videos and updates – follow me on Twitter at @Oilpressureblog or Susan at @MrsOilpressure.

George Phillips

Barber Day Two Wrap-Up

Posted in IndyCar on April 21, 2018 by Oilpressure

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Sometimes the things you plan in your head, just never quite work out. I had planned on (and promised) to post here between Practice Three and Qualifying. Well, one thing led to another…yada,yada,yada…and we never came back in where I could write anything out. When we go to a race track, we actually like to go all over the race track.

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Day Two At Barber Motorsports Park

Posted in IndyCar on April 21, 2018 by Oilpressure

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Greetings from a sundrenched Barber Motorsports Park. The ambient temperature at 10:00 is already 63°, but it feels but warmer than that. The weatherman could not have produced a better day to be at a race track. Unfortunately, tomorrow promises to be completely different. It is going to be much cooler and rain – lots of rain and potentially dangerous thunderstorms.

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Practice Two Was Lively

Posted in IndyCar on April 20, 2018 by Oilpressure

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If Practice One was uneventful, Practice Two made up for it. At least three cars found the gravel traps, one with slight damage. Simon Pagenaud and Zach Veach both brought out the red flags for venturing off course. Then late in the practice, Juncos driver Rene Bender went off track and made contact with the tire barrier. Was it the hotter temperatures this afternoon? I’m not sure.

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Practice One Is Uneventful

Posted in IndyCar on April 20, 2018 by Oilpressure

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Practice One was a slow affair to get started. As soon as the green flag flew, cars went out on basically an installation lap. Then they came back in and sat, while crews made what appeared to be fairly major adjustments to the cars.

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