Category Archives: Barber Motorsports Park

Thank You Faynisha for Amazing Alabama Grand Prix Experience

A huge thank you goes out to Faynisha from Flagging by Faynisha and her entire crew that made my experience feel really special.

I really think I got VIP treatment this year because of the awesome station assignments over the weekend.

Day 1: Turn 8 which reminded me a little of the Corkscrew at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Though not as dramatic of a drop, it is still quite an elevation change after a blind apex going into the corner.

(the Ambulance flag wasn’t used this weekend but as this is a very Motorcycle friendly course it was only appropriate to pose with it).

Day 2: Turn 13 and another blind corner that saw a ton of action of cars overcooking it and losing control in our corner.

An elevated station with good views out towards the front straight, the straight between 4 and 6 and 6 and 7, and of course 10 to us.

Day 3: Race Day: Turn 6 the cherry on top station. It’s the hairpin corner that saw a ton of excitement over the weekend. And we too got some opportunities to wave the yellow flag. Nothing too crazy, but exciting nonetheless.

I had a wonderful time and I appreciate this opportunity more than anything. Events like this make you want to come back over and over again and tell everyone I know how great Southern hospitality is.

Alabama Grand Prix (IndyCar) the Debrief

I had an incredible time at this year’s Alabama Grand Prix.

Not really much to say other than everything about this trip has been awesome. Under the circumstances I had an absolutely awesome event! Getting sick before the trip put a little hindrance on the mood and well being, but that’s just how it goes.

Here’s some pictures from the weekend:

I was surprised to see IMSA trailers in the paddock. Then I realized that both Porsche GT3 Cup and the Mazda Prototype Challenge were participating. And since everything else was a spec series, including IndyCar’s with their identical Dallara bodies. The USF2000, the Mazda MX-5 Cup and the IndyLights. Only the Prototype Challenge offered some variety.

The Ginetta LMP3 didn’t make an appearance but there were more than one Norma’s (even if just on display).

So glad I came on Thursday during the promoter’s test day so I could snap these shots in the paddock. Otherwise there would have been no opportunities to visit pit lane/paddock during the rest of the event. We were in a perfect spot on Race Day to see the driver’s parade:

And that’s a wrap!

Would love to come back another year for another awesome experience at Barber Motorsports Park!

IndyCar Will Soon Use Digital Flags (Lights) Finally!

Great news!

IndyCar series will soon start utilizing a light-flagging system, much like many of the elite global series including FIA Formula 1, FIA Formula E, FIA WEC, Blancpain Endurance Series, etc.

They’re pretty late to the party. The first time I used the FIA TSB digital light panel system was during the 2012 F1 season… a full five years ago! Since then, I’ve used it around the world from the 24 hours of Le Mans in France to 24 hours of Spa in Belgium. To a small club event in New Zealand!

The light system is an important supplement to the traditional flagging system using physical flags, and is one of my favorite roles to work as at a track because there’s so much responsibility on your shoulders when operating one of these digital panels.

Why?

Because digital panels streamline the process.

In a traditional scenario, if something happens, the person on flags displays the correct flag. The observer/communicator sees that flag displayed and radio’s it to Race Control. When they receive the news Race Control spread the message back to the marshaling group, both communicators and rescue services. As well as to teams, TV, even drivers… for those that have displays of real-time info on their fancy steering wheels. With a push of a button, all of those steps become one. The light comes on as a flag, it is better visible to the drivers on track. It is also immediately visible to Race Control, to the Teams, to the TV, to other marshals in the neighboring stations automatically adjusting their flags too, for example waving yellow automatically creates a standing yellow in a preceding station and a green at a following station. The computer does this automatically, no additional input is necessary from the marshals at adjoining stations unless their individual situations change.

Well, today IndyCar announced that they are testing a system of lights and gave us a little waterproof box controller to play with and give feedback…   and to my surprise and amazement, the prototype is shit! I mean these systems have been around and in actual use for at least five years, I know because I’ve used them personally. And the designers of this box still made the same mistakes that plague the older/primitive systems.

It’s a shame the people that design and develop these are not the ones that will actually use these devices themselves. And I’m afraid any feedback we provide will be shelved without serious consideration.

But here it is…

This waterproof box bullshit is stupid. Why? Because chances are you will be using this device when it’s raining out. Umbrellas aren’t always allowed, we don’t always get proper shade from the rain, so how the fuck do you keep this fragile thing dry when it’s open???

You can’t… it will probably get flooded and malfunction.

The design must be such that it is waterproof when opened, in the condition it would typically be used. So having a seal-able watertight box for storage is nothing what reality calls for.

Why give users buttons they are not allowed to use?

There’s no fucking reason any flag point on track would require a “RED” flag button. That decision comes from race control and they are the only ones who should have control of it. Placing a button onto individual station controllers is pretty dumb and only accomplishes creating confusion. And assuming it does work, placing it so close to one of the most used buttons in the box: “BLUE” flag is calling for trouble… Imagine hitting “RED” flag accidentally when a faster car approaches slower car for a pass…   I’ve done that. Not with red flag but with a “SURFACE” flag, and never seen cars hit the brakes harder instead of pushing gas to pass.

That is my other suggestion. Put neutral flags next to BLUE flag, one of the most used flags in the box. You should only have WHITE or GREEN flag buttons next to Blue. But never anything serious or important like RED, SURFACE, YELLOW or WAVING YELLOW.

That said, the box design is the easiest part of this whole system development. I’m very excited about what they told us the actual lights will look like to display to drivers. That will be awesome and potentially leapfrog other series already using digital light panels.

I’m especially looking forward to using this myself.

Ironically, several people at this morning’s presentation jumped to conclusions that this box will replace existing flaggers. I call bullshit on that! Traditional flaggers have a place at today’s race tracks, unfortunately they are taken for granted by every series out there, and most of the people in Motorsport from drivers to fans. Nobody respects marshals and that’s a shame. But there will always be need for them, even if just to push the appropriate buttons to display the correct warning flags.

Post Card from Alabama Grand Prix and MX-5 Cup Season Opener at Barber

Greetings from one of the prettiest racetracks in the United Sates!

I took advantage of an amazing opportunity again to work with Flagging by Faynisha crew for the Honda INDY Grand Prix of Alabama where the Global  MX-5 Cup is making it’s season debut under a brand new sanctioning body: IndyCar…

Why the fuck would MX-5 Cup switch to IndyCar is beyond me. I don’t see any connection whatsoever other than playing a support role during events like these. But MX-5 Cup had already played a support role under it’s previous sanctioning body: SCCA Pro… so I don’t see what justified this move. Similarly, I am dumbfounded why IndyCar out of all the other “sports car” sanctioning bodies like IMSA which would have been a more natural choice, or even USAC.

But anyway, 2017 season is underway. The cars haven’t really changed. Most of the liveries are exactly the same as last year’s, the only thing different is the IndyCar sticker on the front and rear bumpers.

I arrived Barber on Thursday knowing there would be a promoter’s day in full swing, so I quickly registered and rushed to the paddock to take some shots of the Miatas:

Lovely statues adorn most of the circuit!

And there’s those IndyCar stickers…

And a few shots of my NC after two day and over a thousand mile road trip to get down here from New Jersey:

I really can’t recommend this facility enough to anyone I meat. Well worth the visit and especially for a race weekend like this one!

MX-5 Cup Season Opener at Indy Alabama Grand Prix Road Trip in my Miata

What a freaking week it has been…

I thought the recent Power Steering O-ring or the fucking squirrel were going to be my biggest issue on this amazing 1,000+ mile trip I had planned in my Miata down to Birmingham, Alabama for the Alabama Grand Prix (and most importantly the Mazda MX-5 cup season opener there).

I was wrong. The squirrel or whatever the hell the rat bastard it is has been back visiting my car. No nuts left this time but there’s a small pile of shit on the battery like last time. Ugh! The moth balls didn’t work. Neither did the traps. I’ll have to adjust when I return.

But I had a different nut problem altogether that made me less than optimal for this trip bright and early in the morning… I had some kind of peanut allergy that completely knocked me out for three days straight and I still don’t know what the hell happened to me.

So the day I broke my power steering o-ring mentioned in the last article, I bought some Planters peanuts. They are delicious. I buy them all the time, especially when they go on sale. I had a bunch the same day. I had a bunch the next day. And by the third day when I felt I was developing flu-like symptoms I ordered spicy Indian food to self-medicate, and had some delicious peanuts for desert. By Saturday I was fucking dying! Fever through the roof. Throat hurting like a mutherfucker. Couldn’t swallow. Coughing up dollar coin size chunks of hardened flem. And there I am still eating peanuts… because why not?

Sunday I was completely bed ridden. And Monday… and Tuesday. I started researching what the fuck happened. And it turns out peanuts are a cunt of a thing… they trick your immune system to think they are bad for you. So your body starts fighting a problem that isn’t there. How? I have no fucking clue. But I know what hell I went through over the past few days and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemies!

The flem bit was nasty, but something I could get over. I’m taking pills, and the next phase is caughing which will be annoying. But because of all those days of high fever my lips exploded with fever blisters. I didn’t think it was possible to get more than one at a time. But boy did they pop… First one, then second, then third, fourth and finally fifth all on the upper lip. I didn’t think it was physically possible. But now I look like some kind of a diseased mutherfucker.

Holly crap was this a bad experience!

And tomorrow 1,000 mile road trip to Birmingham commences.

I can’t wait! (even if I probably won’t be 100% until I get there).

Really looking forward to this event. And to the opportunity of visiting Barber Motorsports Park, in my opinion, America’s most beautiful race track. Can’t wait to see the Miata’s too! Fingers crossed my car doesn’t shit itself on the way there.

How about a Road Trip to the South: Volunteering MX-5 Cup at Barber in Alabama and PWC at VIR?

I would really love to plan a Southern Road Trip to Alabama and Virginia for some awesome car racing. The trip would be approximately 2,000 miles long and last two weeks with a weekend at Barber Motorsports Park volunteering for the Global MX-5 Cup and it’s parent sanctioning body IndyCar. Followed by a fantastic weekend at Virginia International Raceway volunteering for some classes of the Pirelli World Challenge which would include Sprint X, GTS and the TC/TCA/TCB support series which all feature Miata’s.

How cool would that be?

I think it would be fantastic! But how do I make it work?

Challenge #1: Money!

My concern isn’t just driving down 1,000 miles to Birmingham, Alabama… that’s actually an easy part, and I could make it happen relatively cheaply. There’s only $1 in tolls crossing the Delaware River from New Jersey to Pennsylvania and then smooth sailing all the way down i81 which is my preferred route to travel to Florida. The problem is if I plan this now when I’m still unemployed it would be super tough requesting time off from an employer if I do find a job which obviously presents a predicament… should I make contacts now hoping to be accepted or wait until later time when I know for sure I am not committed to actual paying work… I don’t know.

Both the Barber event and VIR event pay for participation. At Barber Motorsports Park, Flagging by Faynisha organizes marshals. They pay some money which would certainly offset the fuel and some of the accommodation costs involved in getting there. Similarly, VIR pays employees for participation at non-club events. And even though last year both the Global MX-5 Cup and Pirelli World Challenge were under the SCCA Pro umbrella, this year neither one is. The MX-5 Cup went with IndyCar as it’s sanctioning body while Pirelli World Challenge switched to USAC for the same reasons. And that will be interesting to see how and what, if any, will the differences be within the series. I suspect little to none, but I am curious to say the least.

There would be a few days to kill between the event in Alabama and the next event in Southern Virginia on the North Carolina border, which is about 500 miles drive from Barber. I would imagine instead of heading directly to VIR I’d make a few day stop in Georgia and maybe spend some time exploring Atlanta. It’s a nice city with nice food and I would love to have a few delicious meals there, like the amazing Fried Chicken and Waffles I sampled on my last visit to Barber where I flew via Atlanta and spend the night before flying back through Philadelphia (hey, the flight was cheap… $35 bux cheap). Anyway, it would be pretty amazing.

And I think I’ll put this high up on the list of events I’d like to participate in this year.

Since neither event is SCCA sanctioned and neither of the marshal bodies are run by SCCA people, I wonder if I should even renew my SCCA membership this year?

Stay tuned…

Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama the debrief

The third and final stop on my April marshaling extravaganza, whirlwind tour of the south ended in Alabama. And to my surprise and amazement it was the best experience yet! I was impressed, I was surprised and very pleased with the whole experience and I’m happy to share my story below.

So a few months ago I saw a friend of mine bragging about doing an event at Barber… sweet, I looked it up, saw that my weekend was free on those dates, researched some flights and booked a deal! Of course flights were expensive directly to Birmingham, Alabama so I booked a $35 each way flight to Atlanta and then picked up a $1 Megabus ride to the destination. After doing all that I went on MotorsportReg.com to sign up and BAM! Barber is not staffed by SCCA….  DAMN! So I went back to my buddy and asked him for help convincing Flagging by Faynisha crew that I’m a worthwhile flagger.

Luckily she said YES!

Well, to start the journey I would begin in California… because as soon as I arrived New Jersey I was getting ready to leave the same day for the trip south. My SFO flight arrived 5am. I got picked up by my parents, taken home to do my laundry, breakfast, sleep… and then pack for the bus trip to NYC to take a Megabus to Philadelphia where I got on a plane to Atlanta, where I picked up the Greyhound for Birmingham.  A CouchSurfer picked me up for the first night where I got some much needed sleep and on the second day I took the city bus to the airport to pick up my rental car for the weekend. I got upgraded to a full size Huyndai Sonata that was a fuel hog, I think I put less than 100 miles on the car and paid more for fuel than I did in California, and fuel was almost half the cost in Alabama.

The same day I picked up my rental I went over to Barber Motorsports Park to have a look-see and register. I popped into the Barber Motorsports Museum which seemed like an overwhelming place for motorcycle enthusiasts, got sent to the Hampton Inn on the road leading into the track to register, where register I did, and then returned to the track with my credentials to actually have a tour of the paddock and even got a chance to pop into race control.

The first day was a bit rainy but it didn’t stop me from taking a million pictures particularly of all the Pirelli World Challenge cars getting their tech inspections done. For an open wheeler weekend the highlight of my trip was enjoying those beautiful and exotic PWC cars which were so amazing. The SIN cars returned to the track this time around after crashing (both of them) at COTA. There were all four KTM Xbows. The field of Ginettas grew by one. All in all a fantastic showing of wonderful machinery.

For the next three days I got to check out how Flagging by Faynisha folks ran the marshals at Barber and I was pleasantly surprised that the atmosphere in the morning meeting was a lot more pleasant than at many of the other pro events elsewhere.

I was put on the team with my buddy Robert who got me into the event and another Road Atlanta marshal on Turn 1 which was amazing, but for race day we were moved to Turn 10 which was just as amazing because that’s where the driver presentations were taking place in front of the big grandstand and the ferris wheel. Turn 10 especially was a wonderful blue flag station and the PWC race I got to work didn’t have it’s usual full course yellow nonsense, so I got my money’s worth for sure.

The rest of the time at Barber I was admiring how amazingly manicured the circuit was. It seems like not a single strain of grass was out of place. There were statues everywhere you look, some cooler than others. A big spider carrying a motorcycle. A few alligators sticking their heads out of the water at one of the many ponds around the property. Prancing horses… Elephants. Amazing!

I like this place. I really like it a lot.

I think I’ll post a new thread on how wonderful Barber Motorsports Park really is. For now I’d encourage everyone in the position to work with Flagging by Faynisha to reach out and join the group to marshal future events at Barber. If nothing else besides the pleasant experience at a world class facility, you’ll even get paid at the end of the day for rendering your services. The $90 bux per day I received absolutely paid for the entire trip of mine from New Jersey.

I loved it!

grand prix of alabama barber motorsports park honda indy 32

grand prix of alabama barber motorsports park honda indy 31

grand prix of alabama barber motorsports park honda indy 33

grand prix of alabama barber motorsports park honda indy 29

grand prix of alabama barber motorsports park honda indy 25

See you next time Bama!

Thank You Very Much to Flagging by Faynisha and Barber Motorsports Park

It’s not often that I go to a new racetrack that really impresses me… Barber Motorsports Park made me say “wow!”

This post will outline all the things I liked about visiting Barber and working with Faynisha and a hopefully give a few tips to other facilities and organizations to improve the enthusiast experience.

I think the main thing that Barber Motorsports Park has going for it is the brilliant location. Surrounded by luscious green forest the track is tucked away yet close to the city of Birmingham which is just minutes away via Interstate 20. Yet, Mr. Barber has gone to great lengths to carve out an amazing facility that totally utilizes the nature it is surrounded by. I say this because I counted at least half a dozen little ponds around the track which I’m sure contribute to keeping the place green when it actually gets hot. The weather was particularly pleasant during my visit though I can’t imaging temps in the 70’s lasting much longer into the summer, it probably gets stinken hot. Besides the little ponds, one of which featured my favorite sculpture at the track: several alligators sticking their heads out of the water making for a very realistic scene. There were countless statues of elephans, prancing horses, spiders, some sort of tigers or other big cats, etc. And of course lots and lots of motorcycles all around. Even the gates to go to various places around the track featured a motorcycle on their design. But the biggest draw to the whole facility is of course Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum which proclaims to have the worlds largest collection of motorcycles and sports cars too….  I read that statement right on the billboard off the Interstate, and I would imagine they’re right, although I feel that visiting such a facility would be a lot more special with someone who could narrate what all those bikes actually are, where they raced, and who raced them.

grand prix of alabama barber motorsports park honda indy 2 barber museum honda

Just as impressive as this private track was the group organizing the marshals. Flagging by Faynisha LLC is a private entity responsible for staffing events there with marshals. Faynisha recruits them, Faynisha trains them and Faynisha pays the people for their participation. The group of marshals I worked with for the Indy weekend was fairly diverse, with people of various ages and skill sets present. Many of the workers came from Road Atlanta whom I worked with during SCCA staffed events. The marshals all wore FBF t-shirts which was pretty cool, it was sort of the uniform for the event until Sunday where Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama t-shirts were distributed for race day.

grand prix of alabama flagging by faynisha

I noticed that there was a lot of respect for Faynisha and her partner Tom at the event. Marshals were in a positive mood, people paid attention at the morning meetings. And then everyone got a ride out to station on two trams. Both Tom and Faynisha carried on with their work for the event. Faynisha manned the radios at Race Control while Tom seemed to run the Gridding duties on pit lane. Everything went like clockwork and whenever people had questions they made sure to ask Faynisha on the radio and she always came back with answers. I say this because there didn’t seem to be much of the typical backtalk and backstabbing you’d come across at other more loosely organized events. I thought the group ran the event in a very professional manner and everyone was very detail oriented and polite. People worked together on a lot of calls which was awesome. And I did not feel out of place working with a new group, they made me feel welcome which was very much appreciated.

The reason I wanted to thank Flagging by Faynisha particularly is because often times when I watch other people try to recruit new marshals the immediate go to suggestion is: join SCCA! And that couldn’t be more wrong. The problem with joining SCCA is the very immediate fee of up to $95/per year which scares people off right away. For folks living in Birmingham or near to Bama or Georgia it is easy to get in touch with FBF and not only save the membership fee, they could get paid $90/per day for marshaling big events like this Indy event I went to. Now how would that improve recruiting? I think it certainly would. And if people like to marshal and get paid for it, they would consider expanding their marshaling to other tracks and perhaps then joining SCCA to get the license to do that kind of marshaling…. which even then isn’t always necessary as it’s possible to flag at COTA without SCCA license, I’m sure other tracks too….   So my biggest praise for Faynisha’s organization is for the fact that it offers an alternative for Motorsport enthusiasts to become volunteers without getting scared off by fees, and dues, and various hierarchies, and bureaucracies. There’s a boss in place: Faynisha and it is easy to work with her to develop your career as a marshal.

grand prix of alabama barber motorsports park honda indy 1

I was most impressed with Barber and FBF and hope I get another opportunity soon to marshal there. What a pleasant experience!

Three Week Foodie Tour of the South, with some Racing Sprinkled In

Over the past three weeks I’ve got a chance to sample some amazing foodie experiences around the southern part of the country while marshaling various events in Texas, California and Alabama. My goal is to share my opinions on the places I liked and others that didn’t really do it for me anymore, while promoting the idea that there’s so much more to do when traveling for Motorsport events than just being stuck at the circuit all the time.

foodie tour long beach california in-n-out burger and fries animal style

I’ll start with my visits to the In-n-Out burger joint. It is a fast food place and as such not exactly a culinary phenomenon, but we don’t have it in New Jersey and everyone rants and raves about them on the west coast, and specifically in California so I had to have it. Was it as good as everyone claims it to be? Not particularly. I think I’m In-n-Outed already. The burgers are fantastic, for sure. But I think the fries killed the experience for me. There was an In-n-Out in Austin, Texas my host and I went to during the MotoGP before trying one in Huntington Beach, California during the Long Beach Grand Prix and the problem is the same: french fries go cold quickly making them taste like paper… especially when you get them done animal style, the cheese just puts a hard layer over the thin cut fries ruining the taste of the potato (I’m assuming that’s what they’re made of). That said, next time I’m in Cali I’ll probably have one again, minus the fry.

Another chain that really didn’t do it for me was Shrimp Basket in Irondale, Alabama. I like the idea of seafood to mix things up but this joint didn’t really live up to my expectations and I left disappointed. The food was mediocre, small portions and overpriced.

foodie tour alabama grand prix irondale shrimp basket

Similarly, I was very disappointed in Boomerang’s food truck at COTA, the Aussie flag peeked my interest as I absolutely love to have meat pies whenever I travel to Australia. But this place ruined it for me. The pie was basically a miniature pot pie which is nothing like the proper Aussie/Kiwi pies, and at $10 a pop they’re grossly overpriced, considering real OZ pies go for $2-4 bux.

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I had to have one when I saw the truck, but I’m sorry I did.

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Now to the foodie experiences that I seriously enjoyed…

Meches Tacos is an excellent taqueria less then a minute away from COTA that serves amazing breakfast tacos…. simple yet excellent! So good in fact I ate them before I realized I should take a picture. Look for it on FM 812 in Del Valle, TX just past the track entrance when traveling from Austin.

Unlike my last trip to Austin for PWC in March where I focused primarily on BBQ joints for dinner, this time around Tex-Mex was the name of the game, and the highlight of my visit was a trip to Baby Acapulco’s. I was feeling pretty exhausted and a bit under the weather so I ordered Baby A’s tortilla soup to help self medicate, and that stuff was pretty awesome. Again, was too hungry to take a picture but I did snap a shot of a similar lunch at Pappasito’s Cantina at Dallas Airport on my flight home…. another excellent choice for quick and good meal when traveling to Texas.

foodie tour motogp at cota texas papasito's cantina

I enjoy visiting Pappas restaurants in Texas ever since a friend of mine took me out to the Pappas Steakhouse in Houston. Now whenever I’m in Texas I try to visit one of the establishments depending what I’m in the mood for… Tex-Mex at Pappasito’s or seafood at Pappadeaux.

Some chains of course are better than others. We went to a bunch of bad ones in Southern California which was surprising considering how saturated the market is there with good authentic Mexican food. But we also went to some really great places. One was a hole in a wall bar serving simple sandwiches on rye bread called Joe Jost’s. I ordered the hot dog which was actually Polish kielbasa and a liverwurst pate style thing on rye. This place was a few minutes drive from the temporary circuit downtown and full of people when we went. Funny enough all the drinks were served in margarita style glass, even beer.

foodie tour long beach california bar food

Next awesome stop was actually adjacent to my flag point. After two days of eating the same exact sandwich provided by Cal Club I couldn’t stand the idea of having the same thing on Race Day so we climbed the fence and went to Islands fine burgers and drinks. The root beer float I got to start off my meal really hit the spot on a warm and sunny day. But the highlight of the meal was my bacon avocado burger and those excellent fries. It was very delicious!

foodie tour long beach california islands root beer float

foodie tour long beach california islands burger

I felt like I needed a nap after that big  meal, and the uneventful IndyCar race that followed almost succeed putting me to sleep.

The final meal on the trip before flying out of town took delicious to the next level. I’m a sucker for Motorsport advertising, and when I saw a beautiful Dodge Viper racing in the Pirelli World Challenge series wrapped in Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles livery I had to see what the fuzz was all about. After visiting the Mazda HQ in Irvine I made my way to their Anaheim location to give it a go.

roscoe's fried chicken n waffles 1

Boy did that hit the spot. I requested the chicken breast with two giant waffles. The meal was so big this was one of those rare occasions where I didn’t finish it. I don’t normally leave food on the plate after I’m done eating, but this time I just had no place to put it, I was completely stuffed. And very satisfied. The freeflow of fruit punch and lemonade in a distinct two tone as pictured was a nice touch and something I hadn’t really seen before at a chain restaurant. Another good sign the place was packed for lunch!

roscoe's fried chicken n waffles 2 fruit punch and lemonade

Lucky for me, just a week later I had another Southern place to compare these friend chicken and waffles to. As I got an opportunity to stop by a real soul food place in downtown Atlanta on my layover heading home from Alabama. Glady’s Knight’s Chicken & Waffles wasn’t a planned visit, but since I was staying in a cheap motel just a block away and there weren’t too many other options in the area, I jumped on the opportunity to give it a try. Comparing the two I would vote for Roscoe’s as my more favorite, the chicken was juicier and the pancakes were more affordable. But the Hotlanta joint definitely had a better ambiance inside. And instead of the fruit punch and lemonade combo they had a sweet tea and lemonade instead… and after a week or so in the deep south, sweet tea became my go to drink every time!

foodie tour atlanta soul food fried chicken and waffles

foodie tour atlanta soul food sweet tea and lemonade

Now I’ll finish this write up with the really good stuff!

Alabama took me by complete surprise when I arrived there. It was nothing what I had expected. And while I always remind myself to travel with an open mind, arriving in Birminham blew my mind!

The foodie experiences were a major contributing factor to the mind-blown phenomena, and by sharing the pix below I’ll attempt to explain exactly why.

The first thing I learned about Southern Cuisine in Alabama is that they have a special sauce for their meals unique to the region. It’s called the Alabama white sauce and it’s best served on chicken or turkey although some friends that recommended it prefer it on pork too… So of course I went out hunting for this amazing white sauce.

And I found it at Saw’s soul food restaurant downtown.

foodie tour alabama grand prix birmingham saws sampler

My CouchSurfing host lives just about a mile down the road and was happy to show me this joint. She even recommended the sampler plate to try more of the things on the menu. She was completely right, everything was delicious and I really did enjoy the sauce.

foodie tour alabama grand prix birmingham saws juke joint sausage

A few days later my buddy Robert and I went to the other Saw’s location called Juke Joint, which had a different menu but equally delicious food. I ordered some amazing sausage and fried green tomatoes. I also ordered sweet tea fried chicken sandwich to go so I can have it as lunch at the track the next day. Both were fantastic options!

foodie tour alabama grand prix birmingham golden rule sampler

foodie tour alabama grand prix irondale bama white sauce

Speaking of taking food to the track, on Friday a whole group of Road Atlanta flaggers went to Golden Rule BBQ joint just a few miles from the track for a big dinner. There I got to sample some amazing sliced pork again served with the local white sauce which is vinegar and mayo based with pepper and other stuff added for flavor. I had so many leftovers there was no need to buy lunch the next day.  It was such an delicious experience I’m happy to say that out of all the Southern food I got to sample on the trips to Texas and California, Alabama wins hands down for having the best food!

I am so looking forward to my next Grand Prix Foodie adventure.

Post card from the Grand Prix of Alabama

I must start by saying how ridiculously impressed I am with Barber Motorsports Park and the group that organizes the marshals there: Flagging by Faynisha. This event was a real pleasure and joy to work because of all the positive vibe I got on this trip, at pretty much every step of the way.

I’ll leave the details for a later post but suffice to say I had a blast. The trip started on the same day that my Long Beach GP trip finished, I booked a combination of public and private transportation services which included bus rides, train rides, airplane flights, etc. One of the most roundabout ways of getting from New Jersey to Alabama. But I made it, and I had a great time along the way.

I want to thank my buddy Robert Carnright for organizing the marshaling part of the trip for me and introducing me to Faynisha. Couldn’t have done it without the help… and super glad I did!

Some photos from the event:

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Welcome to Barber Motorsports Park, just about 10 miles outside of Birmingham, Alabama right off of Interstate 20

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Probably the biggest attraction of the facility is it’s amazing museum: Barber Motorsports Museum ( I only took a sneak peek)

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IndyCar going through tech inspection

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Indy Lights going through tech inspection

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The Holmatro Safety Crew that work all IndyCar events

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Mazda Road to Indy support series which include USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights… all cars obviously powered by Mazda

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A very diverse driver range, this one hailing from Malaysia

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My favorite support series was the PWC: Pirelli World Challenge

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The Sin cars were back, and after the smash ups in COTA they were kicking ass! One had a very impressive win, starting from the front, stalling, dropping to last and coming back to win!

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KTM Xbow GTS piloted by my neighbor from NJ Brett Sandberg

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More diversity in the Pro Mazda series, Argentine, Canadian, American and Australian pilots

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I was lucky enough to visit race control on my first day to Barber, was pretty interesting perspective I don’t normally get to see

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Some Ginetta GT4 cars from the GTS class

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Maserati Gran Turismo GT4 contributing to the variety in cars

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I love all the statues around the circuit, these were at the gates to the paddock, while my favorite were the alligators in the pond

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First few days were spent at Turn 1, VIP treatment for sure!

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For race day we were bumped to Turn 10, another excellent spot

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Stay tuned for a more detailed write up on this awesome experience.