IndyCar racing is growing in Alabama. Barber Motorsports Park says attendance is even larger this year for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. Fans are here from all over the world to see some of the fastest drivers take the wheel.
Fans say one thing that stands out at Barber Motorsports Park is the access they have to seeing the cars and meeting the drivers. The experience is attracting many new fans who didn't think twice about coming here, no matter the distance."
Twenty six drivers, 11 from different countries, drawing IndyCar fans from around the world to Barber Motorsports Park for the 2013 Honda Grand Prix of Alabama.
Gene Hallman, with Zoom Motorsports says "At least half of the people coming to this race are from outside Alabama, so there's a huge economic impact. "
Fans watched qualifying along with a couple of sports car series races. Tom and Eileen Purizelli went to their first IndyCar race a couple weeks ago and became instant fans. They immediately booked a flight to Birmingham for their second experience. "The way Barber is built with the track being in a bowl area, you can see the whole track, you can see so much more here. This is probably our favorite place we've ever been."
'It's like a roller coaster in places. It's a tricky track to get the set up right with the car. You have to really look at your car, tires, you have to drive smart." In 2011, Pippa Mann drove in the Indy 500. She met with fans, talked about racing, and signed autographs.
Tom Purizelli says "taking a picture with a driver, asking for an autograph, having them pose with you. It's an experience you don't get anywhere else, at least in racing we've gone too."
Hallman calls this weekend, a fan friendly experience. Along with racing and strolling through the fan village, people can also get a bird's eye view of the track by taking a ride on the Ferris Wheel that Michael Jackson had on Neverland Ranch. Race fan, Stacey Cook, says "There's so much to see. So many different activities. It's kid friendly, hopefully we'll be back again."
The opening ceremony for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama begins at 2:00 on Sunday. Bo Jackson is the Grand Marshal. Tickets cost forty-dollars. You can buy them on-line or at the gate. The gate opens at 7:30a.m. Along with parking at Barber, there is free parking at The Shops at Grand River. A shuttle will take you over to Barber.