Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Barber Superbike Races

The weekend of September 24 I made my fifth annual trip to the AMA Superbike races at Barber Motorsports Park outside of Birmingham, AL. En route to the track on Friday I visited two covered bridges - the first was the Euharlee Bridge in Euharlee, GA, northwest of Atlanta. It was built in 1886 and carried traffic until 1976. This made number 12 of the 16 covered bridges in Georgia that I have now visited.

Just down the road from the bridge is a cemetery containing 339 slave graves. The are identified with simple rock headstones, and a boy scout recently added a wooden cross to each as part of his Eagle Scout project.

A bit further down the road is the largest (in terms of power generation capacity) coal-fired power plant in the United States (and the second largest in North America), the Bowen Power Station. The two smokestacks in the middle are nearly 1000 feet tall!

I then visited the Coldwater Covered Bridge in Oxford, AL. It was built in 1850 and is Alabama's oldest surviving covered bridge.

These guys were enjoying a leisurely swim near the bridge.

That made for a pretty full Friday, so I grabbed some dinner and headed on to the motel for a quiet evening of reading and a bit of TV.

I started Saturday morning with a hearty Cracker Barrel breakfast and made it to the track around the time the day's activities were cranking up.

Couple of vintage Indians.

One of the first things I checked out was The Wall of Death, a wooden cyclinder about 20 feet in diameter and 15 feet in height inside which some crazy codgers ride some ancient motorcycles (the oldest was a 1929 Indian) parallel to the ground!

Fuzzy photos, but they give you an idea of what they were doing!

One of the things that I love about the Barber complex is the collection of sculptures that adorn the grounds.

Neat old Harley sidecar rig, complete with oil drip pan. :-)

I got to meet John Hopkins, a former MotoGP racer who is now racing AMA Superbike. The XXI tattooed on his arm is his racing number. Note the piece of broccoli his is munching on; motorcycle racers for the most part eat very well and exercise a lot and are in stellar shape.

No, this isn't a female racer's bike - it's Huntley Nash's, and he was racing in honor of his mother, who died from breast cancer in 2006. It was very exciting to see him win his race, and he donated a portion of the winnings to breast cancer research.

The man, the legend - Erik Buell, founder of Buell Motorcycles and head of Erik Buell Racing.

The only law enforcement agency I've ever seen to use Honda Goldwings.

And, a few action shots.

This ingenious contraption was built by an Ole Miss engineering student that I met and spoke with. Very nice and bright individual. Pretty amazing front-end he designed.

After leaving the track I went out in search of a third covered bridge, the Waldo Covered Bridge a few miles southeast of Talladega. A lady with a Birmingham magazine was also out there photographing the bridge as part of a story on covered bridges in Alabama. She gave me some tips on some good ones north of Birmingham in Blount County that I'll have to visit in the future.

I awoke Sunday morning to rain falling, so instead of heading back to the track I headed on homeward. I'd pretty much gotten my fill of racing on Saturday, anyway, so it worked out well, and I got home at a decent hour. Yet another good trip to Barber, and I eagerly look forward to my next!


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