BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Weaving through the wooded hills outside Birmingham is the sort of tourist attraction one might not associate with a peaceful woodland scene: the 2.3-mile, 17-turn Barber Motorsport Park racetrack, and the accompanying Barber Museum.
Far from being a scar on the arboreal landscape, Barber is a polished gem perfectly suited to its natural setting. The track twists around and over the many knolls, dales and rises that naturally wrinkle the landscape, and stands of trees fill the infield and line the track.
The cleared areas are landcscaped like a golf course, with short, springy, grass and rows of holly bushes obscuring the guardrails. In fact, that is exactly the impression one gets: that a complicated race track was added to a PGA-tour links.
To further arrest the eye of the visitor, creator George Barber has dotted the area with sculpture. Some, like the rampant horses at one paddock entrance, are simple classic bronze castings; others, like the tableau of giant ants eating a motorcycle and a driver, are a bit bizarre.
The dramatic elevation changes (and the way the track designers made use of them—there is hardly a hundred feet of track which does not rise, fall, or curve gracefully across the terrain,) the perfectly-trimmed shrubbery, the wooded hilltops sprinkled with colorful flowers, make Barber Motorsports Park on of the more beautiful venues to watch racing.
Watching racing is easy at Barber. The track is surrounded by hills, which form a natural amphitheater. Fans can set up their lawnchairs and awnings on any hillside and have a panoramic view. There are also platforms built for larger gatherings, grandstands, hospitality suites, and some fans set up picnics under the trees on wooded hillsides
Also on the track grounds is the Barber Museum: several floors of vintage motorcycles (and some cars) spanning a century of transportation, where old vehicles are restored and displayed, and even, occasionally, taken out for a spin around the track.
All in all, a trip to Barber Motorsports Park is Not just another race weekend. There is more to see and do here than watching racing—though the weekend full of racing is certainly the main draw.