Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Being slow was never so much fun.

This weekend found your favorite race series visiting Barber Motorsports Park in lovely Birmingham Alabama. Mr. Barber spent $55 million dollars building one of North America’s most beautiful facilities complete with a motorsport museum containing over 1200 motorcycles and many, many race cars alike. He is very proud of this facility as well, $15 per person to tour the museum and more paddock “police” than you can shake a broken half shaft at. Fortunately it was much more laid back than I was led to believe.

The Track:

Barber is a 2.38 mile purpose built road course with 17 turns. It is a very technical track with lots of elevation changes. The video below does the elevation changes no justice.
I took vacation Friday May 29th to make the 5 ½ hour tow to Barber a little more relaxed. I headed down Thursday night with Warren Turnipseed. Turnip happens to have some family that lives Alabama that was nice enough to let us crash with them. They also live 15v minutes from the track, which is nice. Partying with the Turnipseeds is where it’s at. I had one of the best times I’ve ever had on and off track. We managed to convince Scott McMennamy and Johan Schwartz to hang out as well. Fun was had by all and many beers were had.


We rolled into Barber Friday at around 4 PM, waited in line for about an hour it seemed and then went in to set up camp. We were parked on the skid pad and it was sealed black top. Hot. Luckily we had two EZ up tents to save us from the heat all weekend. After talking some smack and getting set up we headed back to the Turnipseed Compound for dinner and some downtown Birmingham night life.


6AM came early after going to bed at 3:30. Driver’s meeting at 7:00AM. Ouch. This was my first time to Barber and as practice came, I was getting around okay. I watched a little bit of video before coming to the event. Qualifying came and I managed to qualify 12th out of 18 Spec E30’s. We had a great turnout for this event. I was using some old RA1’s for Practice and Qualifying and felt that I didn’t have enough grip so I switched to R888’s for the race to see how they would do. They felt awful. These tires are just about spent as well but I had a great battle with Jonathan Stroup and Steven Lako. The three of us battled for most of the race with some good close racing from the drop of the green on our standing start till the checkered flag. I ended up finishing 13th.We didn’t have a single double yellow all weekend during our races.

Saturday also offered the 60 minute “enduro.” I agreed to fuel for Turnip, Worrell (E36M3 guy) and “Bitter” Jim Robinson. The endure was only 60 minutes but the rules mandate one stop and adding at least 5 gallons of fuel. It was nice and hot out there on the hot pits in a full fire suit! The only source of entertainment for us was listening to Brendan Diegel talk to Jim over the radio. Jim, don’t drive angry buddy! Jim showed up only for the enduro and then quickly left afterward. Shouls have stuck around for the sprints, they were a blast.


Here is video from Scott McMennamy's Car in Sunday's race. Its pretty good coverage of my car until his battery dies and then he gets by me on the white flag lap.


I qualified 11th for Sunday’s race and decided to keep the R888’s I had on the car from Saturday’s race. I rotated them and changed the air pressures a bit. During qualifying the tires felt good for about 3 laps and then got really greasy. They fell off very fast and became almost un-drive-able. I had to back off considerably but wanted to stay out to get a little more practice on the track. After another air pressure adjustment I went out for the race and had the most fun racing I have had yet. I had an absolute blast with Jim Pantas and Scott McMennamy. We were swapping positions and running nose to tail for the entire 45 minute race. I was holding them off for most of the race but toward the end Pantas got by me for the final time after one of my many mistakes. Scott Mc waited me out and got by me on the white flag lap as I botched the hairpin turn in the middle of the track. He went to the outside of me into the turn as I defended the inside. My plan was to over slow and pull second gear and keep him behind me coming out of the turn. Unfortunately, the tires were done and I ham fisted the downshift getting the car sideways and allowing Scott to cut underneath me and drive away to a twelfth place finish, putting me in 13th for the second race in a row. Nice racing Scott and Jim!

I was completely exhausted when I got out of the car and felt a little sick…I wonder if the CO has anything to do with it racing behind Jim for so long? Hmmm, maybe Ranger can look into it further for us?

Barber is a great track and I hope we get back to race there next year. I also had a blast with the Turnip’s family. All in all, a great weekend at the track and very little damage done to the cars. We had some minor contact in our class. Unfortunately Turnip was involved in an incident in Saturdays race which ended in two totaled Porsche’s and a banged up right front fender for Warren. Hope you enjoy the pics and video, sorry for the poor quality on video, Ill be getting a better camera soon. I also apologize for the boring read. I am feeling a little sick and want to hammer this out but you can deal with it right?


1. I think Indy Jim needs a hug. Craig?
2. Barber is awesome, you guys are crazy.
3. Warren has some great family and I really appreciate their Alabama hospitality.
4. Warren is “One spin away from death” according to 944 drivers.

Our next event is Road Atlanta in two weeks but I will miss that race, hope everyone has fun there. My next event will be Lowe’s Motor Speedway on July 3rd. If you are near come and check it out, until then remember, if you spill anything in the paddock tell the Barber cops.

BeerTech Racing #380, Brian Jones