Just inside the city limits of Birmingham, Ala., sits Barber Motorsports Park. The 17-turn permanent road course was opened in 2003 and designed by Alan Wilson. A compact design with a number of elevation changes highlights the track itself, but when you look at the environment around the track, only one word can be used: picturesque.
But does it have what it takes to become part of the NASCAR national series schedule?
“Barber is a great road course, a really great facility,” Michael McDowell, who’s competed on the track in the past, tells Frontstretch. “Elevation changes, and the track is plenty wide that you could do it. It’s a great racetrack and great venue, too, with the museum there and a lot for the fans to do. It would be a fun place to get to race at, for sure.”
“It’s one of the nicer country club autosport places in the country,” adds Brendan Gaughan. “I have been lucky enough to be able to test there a bunch of times with DP [Daytona Prototype] cars and stuff like that. And the deal… inside the museum, that’s one of the most amazing things that I have ever seen.”
The Verizon IndyCar Series makes one of its only southern appearances at Barber and has been doing so since the 2010 season. In those nine races, five different drivers have visited Victory Lane, with Josef Newgarden earning the most victories at the track with three.
Indy Lights, IMSA and others have also joined IndyCar at Barber over the years, but maybe it’s time to start discussing the addition of stock cars, in the form of NASCAR.
The venue has a combination of rolling hills, amazing lines of sight and many different pieces of art around the grounds to make it a spectacle to see. If you take a look at many of the different tracks on the circuit, a picturesque background is part of the allure (the mountains of Bristol Motor Speedway, ISM Raceway and Auto Club Speedway come to mind).
However, NASCAR’s attendance in Alabama has always been very high at nearby Talladega Superspeedway. Would fans be willing to spend money on both?
“They have Talladega right here, so it would be a little tough to double up on the market,” says Gaughan. “But any road course can work. Road America and Mid-Ohio [Sports Car Course] are just two of the many road courses on the schedule that do great. Honestly, it would be no different with Barber. It would be fun to watch them there, but it’s not as easy as a snap of the finger and adding something to the schedule.”
Some have been asking for more road courses to be added to the schedule for a good few years now. Looking at the lineup that already exists within NASCAR’s arsenal, why not add Barber? It has everything both the fans and the drivers could want and would even give the sport a more sophisticated look that might help open it up to new fans.
“The facility could handle it, it’s no different than Road America or Watkins Glen [International], but that’s not typically how this process works,” says McDowell. “It might even be a K&N [Pro Series] East race or K&N East and West-combined race, or ARCA. Definitely a great racetrack that is also a lot of fun.”
NASCAR says they are all about the fans, so why not give them something different that they would enjoy? Whether you sit on the hills of [turns] 2 and 3, 13 and 14 or you sit in the grandstands on the backstretch where the fan zone is located, you will have a pretty good view of the action.
Add the picturesque backdrop, the beautiful museum and you have one heck of an eyeful of beauty alongside the great racing on-track.