Chris MacAllister's Lotus 49
Chris MacAllister's Lotus 49

HMSA Barber Historics 2015 – Report and Photos

The inaugural Barber Historics was staged May 15-17, 2015 at the 15-turn, 2.38-mile Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. Lotus was the featured marque of the event staged by Historic Motor Sports Association (HMSA) in association with ZOOM Motorsports and Barber Motorsports Park.

The Barber Historics 2015 was patterned after the peerless Barber Vintage Festival, now in its 10th year, held each fall for historic motorcycles. Using a similar recipe, the team at Barber is working with HMSA to make the Barber Historics one of the three top historic automotive events in the country.

The event’s Grand Marshal, George Follmer, also celebrated the 50th anniversary of Follmer driving the Lotus 23B to victory in the U.S. Road Racing Championship over the the powerhouse of Jim Hall and his Chaparral. Follmer went on to win championships in both the Trans Am and Can Am series, as well as successfully competing in INDYCAR, NASCAR, IMSA and Formula One.

Bold words, but Barber Motorsports Park may be the best track in the United States. The track is smooth with long run-off areas. It’s surrounded by a deep green forest as found only in the Southeast. The driver, press and crew facilities were first-class, with TV screens show on track action from each turn. The air-conditioned, roomy and clean building featured large windows that allow great views of the track from the second and third floor rooms. The accessible paddock is divided into three, large tiers. Another attraction was the Barber Motorsports Museum, which houses one of the largest Lotus racing car collections in the world. Drivers and crew alike were positive — even excited — in their description of driving the course. It has been a long time since drivers and car owners have come up to me with praise for an event and a track such as the debut Barber Historics.

Senior Photographer Dennis Gray documented the HMSA Barber Historics 2015 offering the following pictures that highlight the strong field of entrants at the debut historic race. We split up Dennis’ photos into two galleries. The first gallery starting below features our favorite images, all displayed in the full-width view of Sports Car Digest, while the second gallery and race results can be found on the last page of the article and gives a comprehensive view of all the photographs. To see more from Dennis, visit HistoricMotorPrints.com.

HMSA Barber Historics 2015 – Featured Photo Gallery

Chris MacAllister's McLaren M8F
Chris MacAllister’s McLaren M8F
John McKenna's 1963 Shelby Cobra
John McKenna’s 1963 Shelby Cobra
Lloyd Hawkins in his Porsche 935.
Lloyd Hawkins in his Porsche 935.
Doc Bundy's Lotus 79
Doc Bundy’s Lotus 79

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Fred Burke's Cooper Monaco in Turn 8
Fred Burke’s Cooper Monaco in Turn 8
John McKenna's Parnelli VPJ-4
John McKenna’s Parnelli VPJ-4
Robert Bodin's Lotus Elan 26R
Robert Bodin’s Lotus Elan 26R
Three of the Group 1 cars in turn 15. Charles Wagner's Ralt RT4 in the lead
Three of the Group 1 cars in turn 15. Charles Wagner’s Ralt RT4 in the lead

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  1. I know there’re a lot more big fast cars that have become historic/vintage since Earle’s first Monterey bash in ’74, and I’m old; but I miss fields as they were a third of a century ago. There are no tiddlers, no boulevardiers either. Where are the Crosley specials, the DB LeMans cars, the occasional Delahaye drophead, the MGTCs and TR2s, Jowett Javelins, the menagerie of Abarths, etc. etc. etc. The fields nowadays look like SCCA/IMSA when the Monterey Historics started. I’m glad the cars are out there but I don’t much give a hoot. Crotchety me, shame shame. But I absolutely insist that those people have fun with their cars, whatever they are!

  2. Anatoly
    You probably do not remember me but I met you during the 79 Sebring 12 hours. Or maybe 77 or 80 but as you say us old guys. You were driving a Lancia Stratos, correct? I am not a member of HMSA or have any connection to Barber. I can say from listening to HMSA guys talk and from what I heard during the HMSA Barber event they would both love to have more period small bore cars and many more pre war cars. Now to the problem. They just don’t seem to turn out in large enough numbers to run a group. I assume that’s 8 to 10 cars for a group. What can HMSA do to drag these cars out of their garages and onto a track? You give me some ideas and I’ll make sure that they are passed on.
    Hope ti hear from you and others who want to see the groups expanded.

    1. Good heavens I do remember you! I wish I could give some suggestions re older cars. It’s kinda a web of things like this: Coronado, for example, pleasantly disengaged itself from Steve Earle’s organization years ago because the naval personnel were too young to care to watch Lotus 7s, Lotus 11s, MGs, Jags and the like. So they went with Trans-Am cars, etc. And I must say that when the lateTom Congleton and I were talking at Monterey and Earle’s first ever Trans Am field went past I was pretty doggone excited. And it seems like the promotion of groundpounders subtly turns off people who might be interested in bringing their narrow-tired machines out. On the flip side, VSCCA events are well subscribed, back east where it seems like whole families carry on the sportycar tradition. Yet even the VSCCA has had mission creep as cars made after ’59 which were closely related to ’59 models are permitted at many of their events. I just mean that it seems that when I see ads relating to vintage events it’s as I mentioned, they look like SCCA/IMSA of a quarter-century ago. Perhaps that this viewpoint comes with advancing age and can’t be helped. There are so many more “historic” cars now, that’s all; and the cute li’l things that scampered around the Eisenhower era roads shrink in comparative numbers to all those perfectly fine but borrrring 911 variants. And finally the old really fast cars are worth so doggone much $$$ they don’t get brought out. I saw a BMW 507 at Pittsburgh once. The late Bob Sutherland (again, about 2 dozen years ago) used to bring out big Ferraris. I fondly remember a Crosley at several of the early Monterey Historics with a racing stripe, down the hood, down the dash, down the rear deck, made of DASH PLAQUES! In ’82 as a result of overhearing a conversation, I drove a Sprinzel Sprite at Monterey 15 minutes after my first unplanned meeting with the owner, as he was worrying about his heart condition. Don’t think stuff like that would happen today as people are committed to driving their own cars due to the trouble of what they’ve had to go through to get into the event: car prep, licensing, equipment checks, etc.Obliquely this relates to the growing popularity of track days–show up and drive, no wheel-to-wheel stuff, etc. I know I’m rambling but with the ever increasing commercialization of vintage racing–“the tracks have to make money”–there’s the tilt towards catering to the great unwashed to sell tickets; the comparatively small vintage community with their generally under 2.5 liter toys doesn’t much interest people who are being sold the idea they should come to a vintage event and see lotsa Vettes. As I like to say, Bobby Jones said “money will ruin sport” and he was right. I had great hopes for Rahal’s “Legends of Motorsport” and staggered around his event at Barber with the carbs falling off my Cooper. My interpretation is that he went for the high-end owners and Robb Report-subscribing spectators and there’s not that Yurrupean level of comfy elitism in the vintage-historic-supercar community in America. Next year I’m going over and doing several events that I’ve wanted to do and some I already did, with my ’55 TBird automatic. At least the USA isn’t under the bureaucratic hand of FIVA/FISA and may it always be so–I can’t find an inspector to look at a few of my cars so the hoitytoity events over there will accept them, such as Villa d’Este and my Romanian-sculptor-bodied MGA. Freakin’ ridiculous. They really do some neat things in France and Italy–you know it’s for fun when the regs say “protests will not be permitted.” It’s late and I’m rambling. Do watch out for my next book, “Steering With Your Knees,” which comes with a t-shirt. As they used to say, Yours for the Sport Toly

  3. Anatoly, you mention “SCCA/IMSA of a quarter-century ago.” That sounds like a long time ago, but it was only 1990. Don’t you mean a half-century? That would still be after the Crosleys and TCs.

    1. I meant that many big vintage events today look like the IMSA and SCCA large/fast car classes of 1990. But as I recall in ’90 Monterey had a fair percentage of tiddlers on track.

  4. Toly your self-described ramblings are spot on and always filled with delightful first-hand information. I’ve met you only once at Hallet Motor Racing Circuit during a CVAR race. As you know CVAR still runs the little tiddlers and we’d love to see you again. Even your old HP National Champ Morgan will be back on track eventually.

  5. That F1 Lotus (25?) looks kind of funny on low aspect ratio tires which have never been run in Grand Prix races. As I understand it, Bernie & Co. are talking about going to more modern tires?

  6. Just another old tiddler here. I was involved from age 12 on in SCCA airport racing in the Southeast Region. Over the years the cars were a Bug Eye Sprite, Elva Front Engine Formula Jr and finally a wicked fast 1275 Mini. I remember meeting Mr.Arutunoff at Courtland, AL in 62 or 63 when we were racing the Elva. As I recall he had a Maserati 2500 GT car? At any rate it was non standard for sure. The main event poured rain and a good time was had by all.

    Mr. Aruntunoff hit it on the head. For many years Monterey and Sears Point were on the always on my calendar but I lost interest as “vintage” became not my “vintage.” Most of the cars that race vintage date from long after my active period – not a Crosley or Berkeley or 750 bubble top in sight.

    I don’t have a Holy Grail solution but I think we will see more and more smaller, specialized events with the tiddlers coming back. The bigger tracks are looking for a different demographic but there are still an awful lot of aging baby boomers who remember those days fondly.

    Again, thanks for re-kindling those long forgotten memories of 50 years ago – driving all night after work on Friday, getting through tech inspection, looking around to see who has shown up in your class, bunking 4 to a cheap motel room, and (literally) bumping into Stirling Moss in the swimming pool. These memories evoke strong memories and that slow passion for the sport that stays forever young.

    Bobby Anderson

    1. Yep, the Stirling Moss Commemorative Race at Courtland in–it must’ve been ’63 if you remember my Flaminia Zagato which I still have. We’d met him at the Targa Florio earlier that year when he was doing a tour with BBC people reminiscing over the tracks where he’d raced before his ’62 career-ending accident. Wish I could really separate how much was the fun of the event from just being young!

  7. You are dead right sir – it was 63. Sir Stirling was a year away from his accident (April 62?) and he was speaking at an outdoor event at our hotel.

    To your point, I made a comment to my wife only this morning about the 60’s. In essence, the remark was that the three passions of my life at the time (social change, music, and all forms of motor racing) were at a peak – and I was young and appreciated all of it as a lifetime treasure. Toward the end of the 60’s I drove a beautiful white 356C Coupe, raced a bada** 1275 Mini, and was a COLLEGE student. Still trying to get back to that lifestyle 🙂