Monday, April 23, 2007

AMA Superbike Races in Birmingham, AL

This past weekend I attended the AMA Superbike races at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, AL. On my way there on Friday I stopped by Kennesaw Mountain National Military Park, site of a Civil War battle, just northwest of Atlanta. There isn't much historical to see, but there are around 16 miles of trails; I hiked the one-mile trail to the top of the mountain; it was a pretty strenuous hike, at about a 10-20 degree incline most of the way. The view from the top was pretty incredible; you can see Atlanta to the right in the first photo:

While gearing up to leave I had a pleasant conversation with a gentleman from Cleveland who is retired from the Air Force and rides a Goldwing and a V-Strom 650. From Kennesaw I took back roads and meandered toward Ft. Payne, AL, where I visited Little River Canyon and Falls.

Highway 176 heading south from the falls is a scenic drive; it is very windy and offers several overlooks of the canyon. Along the way is this interesting rock formation:

Upon arriving in Birmingham I headed to my friend Bo's house, where I stayed while I was there; he's a fellow Ninja 250 rider. We had dinner at La Hacienda, a great Mexican restaurant in Pinson.

Saturday morning I headed to the track; unfortunately, Bo had guard duty that weekend and was unable to attend the races, so I was on my own, but I still had a great time. I wandered around the vendor exhibits and the paddock, checking out the race bikes. I met Earl Hayden, father of Nicky (current Moto GP champ), Tommy, and Roger Lee. I saw him in Roger's pit area, and the next thing I know, the fellow next to me yells out, "Hey Earl!" Earl came walking over, and it turns out they were buddies, so they got to talking; I just stood there and listened to them talk; I think Earl thought I was with that fellow; I got all sorts of inside scoop about Nicky and Moto GP! Before wandering off I shook his hand and introduced myself. Cool!

I watched qualifying and the races throughout the day, and then headed back home to Bo's house. We drove into downtown Birmingham and met up with Phillip, a friend and coworker of Bo's. We had an awesome dinner at Jim and Nick's Barbecue and then proceeded walk around downtown, hitting a couple of cool bars along the way. It was a really fun evening, and I really enjoyed exploring downtown.

Sunday morning I headed back to the track. Since there wasn't much going on before lunch, I rode down Highway 25, which is a really fun twisty road. Last year Bo, Tom, and I rode as far as 29 Dreams, where we had breakfast, but this time I rode it all the way down to Vincent, where it meets US231; the whole of the road is twisty and fun. I rode it back up to Leeds and to the track.

While wandering around the paddock I was able to meet Tommy Hayden and got him to sign my hat.

The Leeds police department did a highly commendable job of directing traffic out of the track; following the last race, I was on I-20 within just a few minutes and on my way home. I arrived home around 10pm. What a great weekend! The weather was absolutely perfect, the racing was great, visiting with Bo and Phillip was a lot of fun, and I ate some great food! Couldn't have been finer!

All the photos I took can be found here.


At Tuesday, May 01, 2007 2:01:00 PM, Anonymous James Warren said...

Nice writeup Payne! As always.

Thats awesome that you got Tommy Hayden to sign your hat.

Shae Fouchek's signature is still visible on mine from the AMA race in VIR last August.

Cant wait for this years races at VIR.


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