Thoughts & Photos From Barber 2009-2019

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This past weekend was supposed to have been the eleventh running of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. It ended up being the second lost weekend of IndyCar racing. Some took solace in watching the iRacing event at Barber Motorsports Park that was broadcast live on NBCSN. I watched about ten minutes of the virtual race at Watkins Glen last weekend, but didn’t watch a minute from Barber. It just doesn’t do it for me. If it helps you get through this period, then that’s great. Different people deal with this time in different ways.

Personally, I like to reminisce about real racing that has occurred at these tracks. The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is now second on my list of IndyCar races I’ve attended in person – second only to the Indianapolis 500. In fact, Susan and I have attended every IndyCar race at Barber since the inaugural event in 2010. We also attended Spring Training there in March of 2009, when the track was under consideration for a future race; so we have a lot of great memories from there.

Being only three hours south of Nashville, it’s a very nice springtime drive down I-65. Once Nashville lost the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway after the 2008 event, Barber became the closest race to our home. Even with Gateway on the schedule now, Barber is about an hour closer to us than Gateway.

Longtime readers of this site know how much we love going to Barber. For several years, it was our favorite track to visit besides IMS. I’ll admit that once we started making Road America an annual visit in 2016, it may have slightly edged Barber out of our top spot, but that may be only because Wisconsin is so culturally different from what we are used to in the south. There’s not much difference in the culture of Nashville compared to Birmingham. But we really get the sense that we have traveled a great distance when we fly to Road America. Make no mistake, however, we still love going to Barber each year.

That’s why this weekend was a tough weekend for us. May will have an empty feeling, but we will know that it’s only been put off for a few months. As empty as May will feel, August will be full for IndyCar fans (presumably). Barber is off the schedule for the year. When we presumably return there next spring, we will have gone two full years without going to Barber, after making the trek down there for the past eleven (counting 2009’s Spring Training).

Just like our May weekends in Indianapolis, we have established our own traditions at Barber over the years. We have our regular hotel, our usual restaurants (not Rusty’s BBQ) and even a stop at Susan’s favorite bakery down there – Savage’s, which has been there since 1939. Their cinnamon rolls and apple fritters are about as close to heaven as you can get, on a Friday morning of a race weekend.

Instead of watching the iRace on Saturday, we watched the 2016 race from Barber on Sunday. That was the one with a late race duel for the lead between Simon Pagenaud and Graham Rahal. It looked as if Rahal might win, but late race contact with Jack Hawksworth damaged Rahal’s front wing and eventually handed the lead back to Pagenaud – who went on to win the race on his way to winning the championship that season.

I will close with a hodgepodge of some of our favorite photos over the last eleven years from Barber Motorsports Park. They include a rare photo of Will Power driving a Penske car in Marlboro livery, as Power was subbing for Helio Castroneves during Helio’s tax trial. That spot duty that the rideless Power signed on for, ended up being career-changing.

I am also including a pair of photos from opposite ends. It was in Victory Lane of the inaugural event in 2010. Helio Castroneves was celebrating his win. As I was taking a picture of a jubilant Helio, an IndyCar photographer directly across the way took another photo of Helio. That photo appeared the next morning on the main page of IndyCar.com. If you look just beyond Helio, you see me in a light blue shirt, taking my photo – with Susan to my right. I’ve always loved this pair of photos.

There’s also a Versus photobomb of me behind Tim Cindric, from 2010 (was that really ten years ago?). And for old time’s sake, I’ve included a picture of my cohort from the One Take Only days – John McLallen from 2011.

So instead of my normal Random Thoughts after a race weekend, sit back and enjoy some 80 random photos in (mostly) chronological order, from Barber Motorsports Park; from 2009 through 2019. Hopefully, we’ll resume our visits there next year.

George Phillips

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Flower Beds

Will Power

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V Lane Barber 2010

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B. Rahal

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Susan Victory Lane 12

Rubens Pits

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Ferris Wheel

Hinch Autograph

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Podium

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Leaving

6 Responses to “Thoughts & Photos From Barber 2009-2019”

  1. billytheskink Says:

    What a nice walk down memory lane. I very much hope to get back to Barber someday soon. It was a real pleasure meeting you and Susan there back in 2013, George. Believe it or not, I own a smartphone now!

  2. Great pictures. Wish you had one of Simona. AJ looks like he is going to slap that camera out of your hand.

  3. Wow…..Man times flies! I remember your first post about barber and I even remember seeing you wonder onto the winner circle interview shot live. ( I think I even commented then . Haha) Thanks for Barber rewind! Also Kudos to Susan for rocking the Pepsi bezel diver! Not a lot of women attempt that these days.

  4. Thanks again for all those years of great trackside coverage.

    No coolfit polo shirts allowed? What would former sponsor Izod call that sign?

  5. Bruce B Says:

    Was the lady in the pond skinny dipping? 🤣

  6. Wow! You definitely cheered me up today. Thanks so much for looking back at Barber through photos. It still is a venue on my short list. I love the track, its whimsical art and cannot wait to get out there to spend time in the museum.

    Take care Everyone!!

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