Barber Motorsports Park is a scenic road course just east of Birmingham, Alabama. Since 2010, it has been a consistent stop on the NTT IndyCar Series season in the spring.
The track is named for millionaire George Barber, who built the facility and included a museum to house his massive motorcycle and car collection for the public to visit. It’s a unique race facility as there are sculptures of various designs – including a big spider – spread out over the grounds. The 800-plus acre park is also well maintained and most fans sit in the grass to take in the racing.
In 2007, the series tested at Barber for the first time and returned in 2009 to determine if the facility was compatible with IndyCar and fit to hold a race. It was deemed worthy of a spot on the 2010 calendar. The inaugural race, won by Helio Castroneves was essential in maintaining IndyCar’s presence in the southeastern United States.
IndyCar racing on the track has been hit or miss since the inaugural race. Due to the layout and original design being intended to host motorcycle racing, there are few passing opportunities. It is common for the leader to put a dominating gap on the field and other cars in the pack to struggle to overtake. Regardless of the racing product, the race is generally attended well.
Perhaps one of the most exciting finishes at the track was the 2016 running, when Graham Rahal tried to get around leader Simon Pagenaud in traffic with less than 10 laps to go. During an attempt for the lead, Rahal ran the Team Penske driver off the track, but in doing so also caused damage to his left-front wing which affected his car’s handling. Over the next four laps, Pagenaud chased Rahal back down, retook the lead and won.
The race has seen several streaks in which drivers figured out the track and their team had the setup right. Will Power took two of the first three races. Then Ryan Hunter-Reay put his mark on victory lane, winning back-to-back in 2013 and 2014. Josef Newgarden grabbed his maiden IndyCar win at the track in 2015, then two more in a row after he joined Team Penske. But since then, it’s been different winners for the last three editions.
Three times in the race’s history, the winner has gone on to take the Astor Cup at season’s end. Most recently, 2021 champion Alex Palou opened his campaign by taking his first career win in the 2021 running of the event, while Pagenaud (2016) and Newgarden (2017) likewise included a stop in Barber’s victory lane on their journey to the IndyCar title.
The IndyCar series will take the green flag for the 13th time at Barber for the Children’s Of Alabama Indy Grand Prix at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.
About the author
Tom is an IndyCar contributor at Frontstretch, joining in March 2023. He also works full-time for the Department of Veterans Affairs History Office and is a lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard. A native Hoosier, he's followed IndyCar closely since 1991. Follow Tom on Twitter @TomBlackburn42.
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