Report and photos by David Ferguson, Rusty Nuts Photography
Legends of Motorsports held the first event of the sophomore season for the Bobby Rahal series at the picturesque and challenging 2.38 mile Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama on May 20-22, 2011.
More than 80 cars from six different run groups were entered in the three-day racing event, a nice bump from last year’s race. The Legends of Motorsports at Barber Motorsports 2011 featured significant entries, highlighted by the cars from the Collier Collection, a 1967 Porsche 910, 1971 Porsche 908/3 and 1965 Ferrari 250 LM.
“This weekend has seen some fantastic competition” said Bobby Rahal, Series Co-Founder and 1986 Indianapolis 500 champion. “The quality and depth of the entrants has grown significantly since we started Legends Of Motorsports in 2010 and we hope by showcasing the quality of the cars entered and the professional administration of our events that our participant list continues to grow.”
Among the Historic Grand Prix racing group, a noteworthy entrant was the new to the United States 1978 Lotus 79 that Will Silk profiled earlier this year. In fact, the car (chassis number one) was so new to the US that when the team arrived at the track on Thursday, the Lotus 79/1 was still in Orlando trying to clear customs.
Former IMSA star Doc Bundy, driver of the Lotus 79, was anxious to get some seat time in his new mount to try and learn the limits of the car. He was further frustrated when the car developed engine problems during Friday’s practice sessions. The problem was traced to a fouled plug, caused by water. It was fixed with Bar’s Stop Leak. This is a 3.0 liter Ford Cosworth F1 engine we’re dealing with. Apparently this type of solution was more common than one would imagine back in the 1970s. Lest one think that someone is blowing smoke by offering that solution, Clive Chapman, son of Colin, was part of the transition team from England.
Reporting on the Legends of Motorsports historic race weekend would not be complete without mentioning the track. Barber Motorsports Park is a gift to the city of Birmingham, Alabama from George Barber. While it is a relatively new track, and thus lacks the history of a Sebring or Watkins Glen, it makes up for that with many unique attributes. The 2.38 mile layout is located in a rather tight area, allowing spectators to see as much as 70% of the track from one spot. It is immaculately manicured and the facilities for spectators and participants are first class. Overlooking turn nine is a five-story museum for motorcycles that boggles the mind. The museum also houses a fair number of cars, mostly Lotus, a favorite of Mr. Barber.
Another unique feature at Barber Motorsports Park is the artwork sprinkled throughout the park. There is a lioness on top of the scoring pylon, ants carrying a motorcycle and driver, numerous dragonflies and flowers, a giant spider set in the middle of the track and much more.
Legends of Motorsports at Barber Motorsports 2011 – Results
The first featured group on Sunday were the 2-Liter Sports Cars/USRRC/Can-Am cars. Pole sitter Joe Blacker kept the pack at bay in his Lola T298 and ended the race where he started: position 1. On the podium with Blacker, were second place finisher Hamish Sommerville in a Lola T212 and third place finisher Roger Mandeville in a Porsche 908/3. (2-Liter Sports Cars/USRRC/Can-Am – Complete Results)
Featured in the second race of the day were the Historic Grand Prix cars that were led to the checkered flag by pole sitter Charles Nearburg in a Williams FW071B. Joining Nearburg on the podium was Chris Bender in his March 821 in second place and the third place finisher was Doc Bundy in a Lotus 79. (Historic Grand Prix – Complete Results)
In the third feature race, the Classic Monoposto cars put on a wonderful show as they battled for the lead throughout the race. Ultimately taking the checkered flag was James King in a Brabham BT-29, with Travis Engen in a Chevron B17-B finishing second and Bob Lima rounding out the top three in his Brabham BT-21. (Classic Monoposto – Complete Results)
In the fourth feature race was the Thunder & Lightning/IMSA GT/Trans-Am group. It was a close battle with Robert Hardison in a Ginetta G4 taking the checkered flag while Bob Leitzinger, in his Lotus 26R, was a very close second and Denny Wilson rounded out the top three in his Lotus Super 7. (Thunder & Lightning/IMSA GT/Trans-Am – Complete Results)
Taking the fifth featured group, the Formula Libre machines, to the checkered flag was Travis Engen in his Lola T97/20. Finishing second in this group was Michael Snowdon in a GRD 272 with Jim Kelleher in a March 80A finishing third. (Formula Libre – Complete Results)
In the last feature race of the day were the FIA Makes/Group C/GTP/GT 2000 cars. Capturing the checkered flag in an Audi R8 LMP was Travis Engen. In second place for the group was Tom Dooley in a Porsche 962C while Steven Read rounded out the top three in a Ferrari 312PB. (FIA Makes/Group C/GTP/GT 2000 – Complete Results)
Legends of Motorsports now begins preparations for round two of the season which will be held in Mont-Tremblant July 8-10, 2011. For event details and ticket information, visit www.legendsofmotorsports.com.
Legends of Motorsports at Barber Motorsports 2011 – Photo Gallery (click for larger picture and description)
[Source: Legends of Motorsports; photo credit: David Ferguson / Rusty Nuts Photography]