A Racetrack in the Woods

April 9, 2011 Updated: April 9, 2011

J.R. Hildebrand rounds Turn Five at Barber Motorsports Park, with the Barber Museum in the background. (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
J.R. Hildebrand rounds Turn Five at Barber Motorsports Park, with the Barber Museum in the background. (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
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.

Hills, corners and trees: the defining features of Barber Motorsports Park. (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
Hills, corners and trees: the defining features of Barber Motorsports Park. (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
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.

Not sure what the message is here, but it is a striking display. (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
Not sure what the message is here, but it is a striking display. (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
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.

A warning to picnickers? (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
A warning to picnickers? (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
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.

A more dire warning to motorcyclists (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
A more dire warning to motorcyclists (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
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.

Not an encouraging sight for drivers (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
Not an encouraging sight for drivers (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
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

This eight-foot-tall arachnid prowls the infield with her offspring. (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
This eight-foot-tall arachnid prowls the infield with her offspring. (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
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.

While some fans set up on the hillsides, others choose the shade. (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
While some fans set up on the hillsides, others choose the shade. (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
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.

Special platforms for wheelchairs (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
Special platforms for wheelchairs (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
Even on Friday, fans lined the track. (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
Even on Friday, fans lined the track. (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
These fans have probably been coming to Barber for years. (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
These fans have probably been coming to Barber for years. (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
This young fan said her favorite car was 'the green one.' (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
This young fan said her favorite car was 'the green one.' (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
Fans can find comfortable viewing spots all around the track. (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
Fans can find comfortable viewing spots all around the track. (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
Statues, flowers, manicured bushes&#8212not common fare for race tracks. (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
Statues, flowers, manicured bushes&#8212not common fare for race tracks. (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
This heroic figure and his twin guard the tunnel to the infield. (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
This heroic figure and his twin guard the tunnel to the infield. (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
Hospitality/VIP lodgings tucked into a stand of trees overlooking the track (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
Hospitality/VIP lodgings tucked into a stand of trees overlooking the track (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
Billy's Bar offers refreshment and trackside tables. (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
Billy's Bar offers refreshment and trackside tables. (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
Not sure why there is a partially inflated rubber chapel here, but there is. (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
Not sure why there is a partially inflated rubber chapel here, but there is. (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
A closer view of the chapel (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
A closer view of the chapel (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
The king of beasts guards the paddock. (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
The king of beasts guards the paddock. (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
Horse, rampant (James Fish/The Epoch Times)
Horse, rampant (James Fish/The Epoch Times)