After about two weeks to re-charge, we’re back to racing this weekend at the Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. It still amazes me how the fans down there took to this event in its first run last year and I’m looking forward to seeing if that holds true again this weekend.
I’m also a bit intrigued by two new competitors that will make their IZOD IndyCar Series debut this weekend, James Hinchcliffe and Simon Pagenaud, who’s subbing for an injured Ana Beatriz (wrist) at Dreyer and Reinbold Racing. We’ve seen what Hinch can do in FIL and during the Open Test at this track, but as I’m sure he knows, testing and racing are two different things.
Meanwhile, we haven’t seen Pagenaud, the reigning American Le Mans Series LMP champion, in open-wheel since the final season of Champ Car. But he’s got the talent to do the job and he’ll have help from teammate and fellow Champ Car alum Justin Wilson – always a good thing to have on a road course.
Then, of course, there’s the continued rivalry between Dario Franchitti and Will Power. How will it turn this time?
As we are in Alabama this weekend, the mixtape certainly leans toward the country side of things. While I certainly have a few favorite artists from that genre, I find myself often needing to be in a “mood” to sit back and listen to it for extended periods of time. With that said, I needed some help from my Dad, who’s much more in tune with country music.
His support, as always, is greatly appreciated.
Track: “My Kinda Party”
Album: “My Kinda Party” (Broken Bow)
Leading off is a track that’s meant to encompass the whole weekend at Barber Motorsports Park. Last year, over 50,000 fans saw Helio Castroneves take the checkered flag to cap off a major success for the beautiful facility. While some weren’t sure how IndyCar would take in a market that definitely loves its NASCAR, it became evident very quickly that this was quite the party indeed.
We’ll see if even more people line the Birmingham road course this year.
HANK WILLIAMS, JR.
Track: “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight”
Album: “Major Moves” (Warner Bros./Curb)
Can’t have an Alabama mixtape without Bocephus. You probably know this tune as the opener for ESPN’s Monday Night Football, which is a good claim to fame for a song. But for this weekend, it’s also another tune that’s supposed to be a backdrop for the entire event. Let’s hope for some rowdy racing this weekend.
Well, maybe not St. Pete rowdy.
Track: “All I Wanted Was A Car
Album: “5th Gear” (Arista)
Who hasn’t been in this situation before? Oh, to be 16 again and just about breaking your back to save up enough money for a new ride. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was more than one youngster this weekend at Barber that winds up inspired to do this after watching the IndyCars zip through Charlotte’s Web.
Maybe they can’t buy the No. 10 Target Honda-powered Dallara, but, hey, they could buy an Accord…or a Cobalt…or an Exige if they really work hard!
Track: “Sweet Home Alabama”
Album: “Second Helping” (MCA)
Track: “Mountain Music”
Album: “Mountain Music” (RCA)
I must admit this is not my favorite Alabama tune. That honor goes to “Thistlehair The Christmas Bear” from their 1985 Christmas album; it’s a tune that always got played at the Estrada household during the holidays. But last I checked, it’s April, so we’ll go with another classic from the boys from Fort Payne – a tune that rolls peacefully like a river until the raucous final minute that’s filled with blistering banjos and fiddles.
Track: “Jerry Was A Race Car Driver”
Album: “Sailing The Seas of Cheese” (Interscope)
Alright, time for a curveball. This track’s certainly a unique creature – I’m really not sure how to describe the song, except that it involves a race car driver, a retired fireman and a very bad ending for one of them (Moral of the story: Don’t drink and drive, kids.). Remember the lesson, but please, enjoy the head-banging.
Track: “Rockin’ Down The Highway”
Album: “Toulouse Street” (Warner Bros.)
Long before Michael McDonald injected blue-eyed soul into the Doobies’ DNA, the band was more of a country-rock hybrid. This version of the Doobies produced multiple songs that are still played on the radio today, but in my opinion, “Rockin’ Down The Highway” is the best of the bunch. Luckily for IndyCar drivers, they don’t have to worry about the highway patrol!
Track: “Machine Gun”
Album: “Machine Gun” (Motown)
One of the top American funk bands of the ‘70s and ‘80s, the Commodores first met as students at the Tuskegee (Ala.) Institute (now Tuskegee University) in 1968. Before they struck it big, their talents won lots of fans around their home region. This tune in particular remains a go-to song at live sporting events -- and yes, it was in Boogie Nights, too. It’s even gotten some remix love from the masterminds behind Gran Turismo (you’ll find it in GT4)! Original or remix, it’s my favorite instrumental outside of “Soulful Strut.”