Everyone has a favorite track. For me, it is Barber Motorsports Park, a track that just happens to be in our region. My first NASA experience in HPDE1 and my first sprint race in American Iron took place at Barber.
I was horrendous in HPDE1 because I had yet to learn much or listen to my instructor, Mark Dorner. Later, I must have learned something when I out-qualified Mark and beat him in my first sprint race a year and a half later. Much like a late ‘70s Kiss concert — where it is said that if you did not experience it firsthand, it is hard to describe accurately — if you haven’t been to Barber, it is hard to describe. Barber is three things to me: facility, track and museum.
The facility is amazing. When you first see it, you cannot believe how beautiful it is. At our first event, most of our crew had never been to Barber before and they were riding in the toterhome with us. The look in their eyes said it all as we turned into the facility. Imagine a fastidiously groomed country club. That is Barber. They are extremely proud of their facility and there is no place their cameras cannot see. If you have been fortunate enough to be in race control, you can zoom in and see a piece of debris the size of a dime on track or watch as you leave your paddock spot with those empty fuel cans you were supposed to take with you. One of my favorite parts of a weekend is to watch them clean the concrete area we use for tech with their fancy floor cleaner as we finish tearing everything down.
The track is technical. At some tracks, anyone can be fast simply by having big enough balls and holding the loud pedal down on the straights. If you are not a good driver, you will not be fast at Barber. The front straight is not very long at 1,600 feet, and the track has 16 turns, with lots of elevation changes and blind corners over its 2.38 miles. I do not think it is a hard track to learn, but it definitely pays to study.
The museum is fantastic. I was last there in April when I had a couple of hours to kill before a business meeting. It was not enough. I found myself more rushed on each subsequent floor. If you are a motorcycle or Lotus fan, you are in for a treat. I cannot imagine how much better it will be when they open the 86,000-square-foot expansion this fall.
This year, we have two events at Barber: July 30-31 and October 29-30. Come on out and experience it for yourself. Barber may become your new favorite track.