Saturday, April 13, 2013

Indy at Barber Motorsports

One of the best things about living in Birmingham, that most people wouldn't think of when talking about the town, is that there is a fantastic motor sports track 20 minutes from my house.  We make a run out to the place a few times a year to take in some howling motors of various types. Last weekend we had the pleasure of the Honda Indycar race coming to town. 

My parents were in town from Tyler, Texas and we all ventured out into a lovely spring day.  The grass wasn't as green this year as in years past.  For some reason, it seems to have been cool and the dormant grass hadn't come alive yet, but the trees certainly had.  There were clouds of yellow blanketing the area...bleh.

Needless to say, we weren't deterred by everyones' cars turning a sickly shade of yellow before our eyes, and we all loaded up on antihistamines and headed out to watch some racing.

Here is a virtual lap around the Barber Motor sports course, and you can see the course as well in some of my motorcycle track day videos here and here.

We watched the race from a grassy hill around turn one but went over to the Paddock to look at the cars and see some of the drivers before the race started.  The kids thought it was pretty neat to be right in among the cars as the teams wheeled them out and onto the track for the warm up lap and flying start.

Bryce's favorite car, the Boy Scout car, just after getting fueled up.  I wish they had started an engine close by to us so we could feel just how loud these things are.  Noting the faring in front and behind the rear wheels on this Indycar makes me wonder why the Formula 1 cars haven't adopted such a thing if it actually reduces drag to a material degree?

The paddock safety officers had to clear a path to get all the cars out to the track.  Here they are towing a car out and they switched the rain tires (note the grooves) to the racing slicks once in the pits.  Also, note the green pollen stuck all over the front wheel as they rolled it the first 10 yards.  Yuk...

We set up camp on a hillside and I shot an iPhone panorama of our springtime "stadium seating".

As the race started we got a chance to see just how fast the cars were.  They were warming the tires by weaving their cars back and forth across the track while the poor little pace car was whining and sliding as it navigated the course as fast as it could go.  When the Safety Car pulled off into the pits and the race began the noise increased tenfold.

The Start!
You could feel the engines in your chest as the cars raced by.  To see a vehicle go from a tight 60mph turn and accelerate to 150-160 mph in just seconds was astonishing, and viewing that never gets old.

My mom noted that all the cars passing by sounded like angry bees.  That would be one serious swarm of bees...the kind of thing that would be featured in blockbuster disaster movies...or perhaps the final book in the Bible.  The signs of the Blood red moon, the 4 horsemen, and 700 horsepower bees... Yikes.

Turn 1 through a hole in the fence.
After about 20 laps the kids were getting cooked.  Typical, 20 laps of 90 and they are ready to go.  I have found that open wheel racing is good for ADHD people like me since they aren't 3-4 hour long oval track endeavors.  But oh no, not my offspring.  20 laps and that's all that they can handle without getting into fights for entertainment.  I had kind of guessed they would have that reaction even though we were sitting below a Jumbo-tron screen showing the race and just off the track where the cars whipped by.  We hopped a tram and headed over to the kids area for a new view of the track and to let the kids run around while the adults tried to keep up with all the driving exploits.

I got a few pictures, as you can see above in the action shots, but was having less success this time than in past events getting a clear picture.  Who knows why, but I wasn't happy with how they turned out.  I guess I'm glad I don't have to make money taking photographs for a living.  The family would be pretty malnourished.

 Ryan Hunter-Reay had a car that was handling the course beautifully and led for a number of laps early on.  As the race came to the last 10 laps, Ryan ended up in the lead again being chased by Brenna's favorite team - The Target Car...driven by Scott Dixon.  Ryan never gave up the lead after that and he and Scott were pulling away from the 3rd place car rapidly as the final lap came.  A great day and a great race.

Hopefully, now that spring is here, I'll have more writing to do on this blog because the family will have more fun activities going on.  Naturally, removing that 8 inch plate from my leg with the 10 screws lends itself to me feeling good enough to do some entertaining (and blog worthy) things as well.  There's just not much to write about during a year where most of the time I sat in front of an Xbox and a computer at work...

Have a great week everyone, and enjoy The Masters!


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