Saturday's competition at Barber will be the third race on the calendar for the Rolex Sports car series, also known as Grand-Am. They are a two class endurance series, with Daytona Prototypes (purpose build closed top cars, with mid mounted engines) and GT vehicles (production bodied cars from marques such as Porsche, Chevrolet, and Mazda) competing simultaneously for timed events. This weekend's race in Barber will last Two hours and forty five minutes (2:45), a 'standard' event for the series. Grand Am also runs some longer format races, like their 24 hour race on the road course at Daytona and a 6 hour event on the full course at Watkins Glen. Look for rough competition as these cars designed to take a beating fight for every inch of asphalt around the thin curves. (Saturday 16:00 EST)
Indycar will also be at Barber this weekend, running their event Sunday afternoon. After the crash-filled event in St. Petersburg last week expect the drivers to try to keep the cars on the track and out of each other. This is Indycar's second race at the Alabama track, however they have been off season testing partners, so the drivers who have had the time to get out a practice in the winter months should have a big advantage. Passes here will be slight, due to the ease of defending a position in the narrows. An aggressive driver here could cut his way through the field, or ruin the day for himself and other drivers if he gets it wrong. Either way I'm looking forward to it. (Sunday 15:00 EST)
Formula 1 continues their Far East excursion this weekend in Malaysia. The Sepang Circuit, designed by German Herman Tilke. It is a 3.44 mile circuit, opened in 1999, and purpose designed for top tier motor sports, with the ability for fans to see most of the action in mind. The big question of the weekend doesn't have to do with the track, it has to do with the weather. Unlike some racing where the event is postponed due to rain, Formula 1 has special rain compound tires, allowing the race to go on though everything but a tornado. In the Malaysian heat (regularly over 90F for the race) and humidity it is already second only to the the middle-eastern desert races for driver fatigue. Then factor in the threat of a thunderstorm, making this a race only for the strongest drivers to prevail. Red Bull still has the advantage in car speed, but the McLaren drivers has proven their worth in wet conditions, and the Ferrari, Mercedes, and Renault teams also have enough talent in their cars. Rain is often considered an equalizer in grand prix racing, taking the success away from the car and into the hands of the drivers willing to take risks, and able to pull it off when they do. Looking forward to it as always. (Sunday 4:00 EST)
The GT1 Championship holds their second round of the year this weekend in Belgium, at the 2.5 mile Zolder Circuit in Belgium. It is a 10 turn course, sporting lots of elevation change, putting a different form of stress onto the cars and drivers. With the series's two race a weekend format, it's hard to tell who had the advantage at the opening round two weeks ago, but after this weekend there should be a clearer picture. Of note, Vanina Ickx, daughter of Belgian Formula 1 and endurance racing legend Jacky Ickx, will make her debut in GT1 sprint racing competition in a Ford GT. It is always a good competition in GT1 thanks to their one hour race format, with two races per weekend, allowing one bad day to be made up for by a strong performance the next time out. (Race 1 10:00 EST : Race 2 8:45 EST)
Well thats the weekend in racing, I will be trying to catch as much of it as I can. Check out my twitter @XPSMcLaren for live updates as things happen, and look for a full report sometime next week.
PS: I will apologize in advance if I get incoherent on the twitter, that 4:00am race in Malaysia is going to be a killer on my sleep cycle.