Spring officially arrived Tuesday, bringing with it the smell of gasoline and the sounds of revving race engines at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham.
Barber Motorsports Park geared up for the 2018 racing season with a test session on Tuesday for the IndyCar teams that will compete in the annual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 20-22. And while that is undoubtedly the biggest event of the year for BMP — attracting an international television audience and more than 80, 000 fans over three days — officials invited members of the media to the track to remind them that the race is far from the only thing taking place at the facility.
In fact, BMP is used between 270 and 280 days each year, according to Don Erwin, vice president of corporate development for The Barber Companies. That includes car conventions, vehicle debuts (where manufacturers roll out a new model for the media) and the filming of commercials (Hyundai has used the track to film Super Bowl ads).
BMP also is the site of the Porsche Sport Driving School of North America, the largest Porsche school in the world. More than 23, 000 people have attended the school since it opened in 2003, with 92 percent of participants coming from outside Alabama, Erwin says.
Media visitors were allowed to climb behind the wheel of these sleek machines on Tuesday and take them for a spin through a curvy course (the precision handling is amazing), as well as enjoy the souped-up acceleration of a Porsche that can go from 0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds. Trust me, the car is a rocket and the experience is a blast.
Also, BMP officials Tuesday announced that the British auction house Bonhams will present a classic motorcycle auction at BMP on Oct. 6, in conjunction with the annual Barber Vintage Festival. The festival itself attracts approximately 70, 000 people over three days for an event that Erwin says is “a combination of motorcycle racing and a big carnival.”
Look for more details about the Barber event in the May issue of Business Alabama.
Text by Cary Estes // Photo by Cary Norton