10 Years Of INDYCAR
The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park has become an important cultural event
By Loyd McIntosh | Photos Courtesy of Zoom Motorsports
On April 11, 2010, Brazilian race car driver Hélio Castroneves took the checkered flag in the inaugural Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park. A decade later, this early-season race has become one of the premier events on the IndyCar calendar as nearly 100,000 people descend on eastern Jefferson County for a weekend of world-class open-wheel auto racing. It’s a development that seemed improbable at best when that first race was announced back in 2009. “Many skeptics didn’t think IndyCar would work in our community but we’re right there among the top three IndyCar races in the country,” says Gene Hallman, President & CEO of Zoom Motorsports, the management team behind the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.
The success of the IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama is due to several factors, but the key is this incredible community asset, Barber Motorsports Park. Since its opening in 2003, Barber Motorsports Park and the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, has established a sterling reputation placing it on equal footing with some of the world’s finest road racing courses, such as Belgium’s Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, known as Spa for short, and Nürburgring in Germany, among others.
The track’s 2.38-mile, 16-turn layout is one of the most challenging road racing courses around the globe while the immaculate grounds reminds one of a well-maintained golf course, earning it the nickname “The Augusta National of Road Racing.” “Mr. Barber was intentional in his design. he wanted it spectator friendly,” says Hallman. “For instance, you can see a majority of the road surface from almost any area in the park.”
Hallman says that the beauty of Barber Motorsports Park and the quality of racing may have been what attracted people initially, but the overall experience is what makes the Honda Indy Grand Prix a must-see among fans of racing and those with other interests. For instance, the Honda Indy Grand Prix weekend includes competition among five racing series, and a wine festival and a 5K run all designed to add additional layers of richness to this important cultural event. “We’re adding new dimensions for people to enjoy who don’t know much about auto racing at all.”
The 2019 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, scheduled for April 5-7 at Barber Motorsports Park, is certain to be another great weekend of racing. Racing legend Mario Andretti, considered by many to be the greatest race car driver in the history of the sport, will be the 2019 Grand Marshall. Additionally, three-time champion and Tennessee native Josef Newgarden will defend his 2018 championship.
Even if these names are unfamiliar to you, Hallman encourages you to come out to Barber Motorsports Park and experience this one-of-a-kind event in the heart of Birmingham. “I guarantee it will be one of the most unique event experiences you have ever had. It will exceed expectations,” says Hallman. “The beauty of the park, the museum, the amenities, the wine festival, and the art festival all work together to create a one of a kind experience.” Portico Magazine is giving away Three-Day Kamtek Paddock Garage Passes! Click this link to register for your chance to win a pair of passes to the 2019 Hond Indy Car Grand Prix of Alabama.