Getting It Right

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.

Hits

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.

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One Response to “Getting It Right”

  1. Thanks for the heads up! My ‘thing’ is food; seems those buffets would suit me well. However, I do enjoy sampling food tents and trucks (if applicable) around the track, during appropriate breaks. One of my bucket list items is the Barber Museum, so hopefully ’19 is my year to go. And don’t worry, I’m kind of anti-social in public, so you and George won’t have to worry about me trying to meet you guys. My go-to avoidance technique is looking too busy to bother. LOL

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