IRL: Sweet home Alabama?

April 2, 2009
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barberWhile Indy Racing League teams and officials are heading to St. Petersburg, Fla. for the April 5 season opener, their mind may be wandering to not-so-far away Alabama.

In March, IRL teams made their third testing trip to the Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham. When about 20,000 spectators showed up for the two-day testing run, that got IRL officials’ attention.

“[Barber officials] told us they liked our property and think they can build a business around an [IRL] race there,” said Terry Angstadt, president of IRL’s commercial division. “It’s nice to hear that. They couldn’t have rolled out the red carpet at that track and in the surrounding community more than they did.”

Angstadt said there is a solid shot the Barber road course could be added to the IRL slate in 2010 or 2011. Several turns in the course would have to be widened to accommodate passing, Angstadt said, and widening pit row also would be nice. Despite it being in the heart of NASCAR country, it’s a market IRL officials are eager to penetrate.

“It’s not a DMA that jumps out, but if you look at the three-hour radius, that’s 24 million people,” Angstadt said. “Firestone loves this market. There are lots of automotive manufacturers there, and since we left Nashville (Tenn.) it could give us a stronger presence in the Southeast."

Another problem, said Angstadt, is there are no grandstands. But he thinks those could be relatively easily added. The facility does have a sizable media center and museum.

“It’s like Augusta (home of The Master’s), with rolling elevation and magnolia trees,” he said. “It’s the prettiest motorsports facility you’ll ever lay eyes on.”

With the IRL looking to add races earlier in the year, Alabama could be a good fit.

"We have capacity at the front end of our schedule,” Angstadt said. “Ideally, we want to start our season in March and end in October. We have 17 races now, and I could see expanding to 20 pretty comfortably.”

Alabama isn’t the only new location IRL officials are considering. Facilities in Cleveland, Houston, Brazil and China also are being studied, Angstadt said.
  • I hope the IRL keeps an eye on their growth. Too many races will make it tough on teams in this economy. Hard to tell when the recession will be over. They also need to work on establishing history at courses. I hope they do not get into the business of hopping from track to track to get the best deal.

    Alabama would be a great spring break track. Lots of northerners down for vacation. 20,000 for a test is a good show.
  • China? wow!
  • Which oval will get dropped for the Barber roadcourse? Did anyone tell _TG that Brazil is in South America and not by Greencastle?
  • It'll be grate. And there really isn't any need for grandstands. :lol:

    Can somebody please tell talkin' Terry that he does not sound smart. No, wait, he's a great comedy source, tell him to keep on monetizing his paradigms.
  • You guys need to calm down a bit. It looks like TOneys got a potential title sponsor on the hook -->

    Let's wait a bit and see if this one gets away too.
  • It's perfect. Hopefully it will kill the rotten stench coming from the track.
  • It's one thing to post the kind of comments and hate you guys continue to harbor, but it's another thing to put up a link like you did SSD. While on one hand it is humerous, on the other, you may be crossing the line of no return.
  • What else would you expect from them. It just confirms that they have no lives. I mean who else would take time to do something like that for a series they hate? I have more important things to do with my life.
  • BerwickGuy:

    Humor. it works. :lol:

    Gawd knows the IRL doesn't.
  • Da Hooey:

    Tell that to Briscoe, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Justin Wilson.

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