Fun With The Fans At Barber

By Susan Phillips

Today I decided to go to the TNT Fireworks Fan Zone and check out what was new this year. The first thing we saw was the Gear Up Your Career booths. Gear Up Your Career is an initiative that began in 2015 at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. It is a program that is designed to address the need for skilled labor by educating and promoting career opportunities with Honda Manufacturing of Alabama.


I think this is a great fit for a race track–once you get bitten by the racing bug, what better way to make a living than in the automotive industry in some capacity? We spoke to one of the representatives for the State of Alabama about how the program runs. George’s "day job" is somewhat similar, so we were interested as to how this fit into Motorsports–wouldn’t that be great to be sent to all of the races to promote getting jobs in the auto industry?


We did not partake of the Wine Down with Indy complimentary wine tasting, but it sounds like a fun thing to do, if only we didn’t have to drive back to Nashville tomorrow after the race. They are open tomorrow from 10-4. Free wine… hmmm.

We were there during the autograph session, which seemed like a relaxed place for some of the drivers to swap stories and talk before qualifying. Some of the drivers were very personable with the fans, while others simply went through the motions. I guess after you sign your name so many times, you can do it in your sleep.


Then I came to the Firestone booth where they were holding the Race Andretti Sweepstakes–the prize being an all-expenses trip for two to the 100th Running of the Indy 500. This sweepstakes invites you to compete against Mario Andretti while doing smile, ordinary household tasks. Today’s race was peeling an orange–I made it it 19 seconds. I heard someone else did it in 5 seconds. Next week’s challenge is wrapping a vacuum cleaner cord around a vacuum–it starts tomorrow, so everyone who is skilled with a vacuum should participate. I don’t do the vacuuming around the house (I won’t tell who does), so I would be a poor competitor. Here is a clip about the sweepstakes.


In the food area, there seemed to be a lot of new vendors. Steak and Shake had a large presence there–the lines sure were long. They offered a stuffed toy or a T-Shirt with purchase. I saw lots of kids walking around with the stuffed French Fries??? And a lot of adults with the I love Steak and Shake T-Shirts. I’m sure Graham Rahal would be too happy to sign them. Speaking of Graham Rahal, the most distinctive new shirt in fanwear was the apron and bow tie of Graham Rahal’s steak and Shake driver’s suit. I saw several people walking the grounds sporting this look.

Steak shirt

I’m not going to say again how beautiful this facility is, but I did have fun riding the tram and trying to find all the statuary and small details you might miss if you don’t take the time to look for them, I had never noticed before how many bird houses are scattered among the trees. Apparently the track is filled with little surprise statuary throughout. I saw several statues I had not seen before–I finally saw the zombie in the floating barrel and I have heard there is a Bigfoot leaning around a tree somewhere on the grounds. Maybe tomorrow during some down time, I will hunt for Bigfoot. Anyone have any hints as to where he’s hiding? The picture of George and the Firestone Firehawk is not of Bigfoot, but a funny way to close-especially with the porta-potty as a backdrop.


2 Responses to “Fun With The Fans At Barber”

  1. Ron Ford Says:

    Thank you Susan. It was a fun way to begin my Sunday morning looking at your photos. And BTW, we actually have mosquitos that big here in Wisconsin. They are required to file a flight plan with their local airport.

  2. Thank you, Susan. It looks like you both had another great time at Barber. I had told Graham in Long Beach I would love an apron to match his driving suit (A good Mother’s Day present). I didn’t get a chance to go back an buy the shirt. Maybe at Pocono. I enjoy the autograph sessions and this year focused on the smaller teams. Always fun!

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