March has been a good month for me in terms of freelance writing, with four pieces in three different magazines. This one for Birmingham Magazine titled Birmingham Sportsville, U.S.A., is, without a doubt, the most comprehensive. A story I began working almost a year ago, I wanted to learn how, over the last decade and a half my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, has become a go-to city for an array of special sporting events. Since the mid-1990s Birmingham has successfully the following:
The city is also preparing to open the new downtown baseball complex, Regions Field in the middle of downtown Birmingham. The stadium will be home to the AA Birmingham Barons, marking the first time the minor league club has been in the downtown area since it left Rickwood Field back in the mid 1980s. All of this is happening in a city that has called itself the Football Capital of the South for almost a century.
That phrase can still be seen painted on the side of Legion Field, an aging football stadium known around football circles as the Old Gray Lady - old being the operative term. The stadium which hosted decades of epic University of Alabama football games while Bear Bryant roamed the sidelines hasn’t hosted a Crimson Tide game in almost ten years. These days, Legion Field hosts UAB Blazers home games to tepid crowds, and lost the state high school championships which left for to Auburn and Tuscaloosa (alternating years). Meanwhile, Birmingham struggles to gain support for a multipurpose domed facility that city leaders have wanted to build for close to 20 years.
I had a chance to attend a some cool events, including the 2012 Honda IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama, and I was able to interview some of great drivers including Charlie Kimball and Joao Barbosa for the story. Take a few minutes to read the story and drop me a line to let me know your thoughts.
IndyCar In The Heart Of Dixie
July was a big month for me with two HUGE magazine pieces. This one is a feature story for Tailgater Monthly magazine, a comprehensive look at a weekend at Barber Motorsports Park during the 2012 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama and the Rolex Grand Am 250 March 31-April 1.
If you’re a road racing fan you must put a trip to Barber on your to-do list. The track, located just 10-15 minutes from downtown Birmingham, opened in 2003 and has quickly gained a reputation as one of the finest road-racing facilities not only in North America, but throughout the world. Many of the drivers I spoke to over the weekend, including Charlie Kimball and Joao Barbosa, compared the track to the Cicuit de Spa, the legendary Formula I road-course in Belgium, even if it was originally designed for motorcycles, a fact that can make passing in a four-wheeler a wee-bit difficult.
However, a trip to Barber Motorsports Park doesn’t require you to bone up on your French and it’s located just 30 minutes down I-20 from another landmark Alabama racetrack you may have heard of - Talladega Superspeedway. That’s right, one of the new bright sports on the Izod IndyCar schedule is just a stone’s throw from arguably the most famous NASCAR track in the land.
Sunday’s main event was won by the driver with the best name in motorsports - Will Power - but for many women in attendance, the real main event was an appearance by Dr. McDreamy himself, Patrick Dempsey, a team-owner and driver in Saturday’s Rolex Grand Am 250. I wasn’t able to score an interview with him, but fret not ladies, I did get a few photos of him while signing autographs. Here’s a sample.