A Day At The Races: Patrick Dempsey Comes To Alabama and Barber Motorsports Park

April 1, 2012 | By | Comments (3)

This weekend has been a thrilling one in Leeds, Alabama. Located about 16 miles outside Birmingham (Southern Living‘s headquarters), Barber Motorsports Park is home to the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. It’s a gem for the Birmingham metro area, hosting races and events that draw a national crowd. (It’s also home to the Porsche Driving School of North America, but we’ll get to that in a minute.)

A group of Southern Living editors had the pleasure of attending the race yesterday. Truth be told, we were excited to get to meet one of the drivers, Patrick Dempsey of “Grey’s Anatomy.”

But what we learned was so much more. First, Barber Motorsports hosts car (including Indy) and motorcycle races (AMA Superbike Races). Fans come from around the South — and the U.S. — to the track, which is located on 740 acres. The setting is beautiful — like a race track was deposited in the middle of pristine Alabama countryside.


In addition to hosting races (and being home to a vintage motorcycle museum), Barber is also home to the only Porsche Driving School in North America. We got to take a spin with one of the instructors in this amazing Porsche. At one point we went 120 miles an hour — what a thrill!


It was just as exciting to meet the drivers and their families competing at the event. We got to know the folks at Dempsey Racing (who is sponsored by VisitFlorida.com), and check out their cool cars:


Based in Atlanta, the team was founded when Patrick Dempsey teamed up with his instructor, Joe Foster. Among the drivers are Here is Lutz, FL resident Charles Espenlaub. And then, of course, there’s Dr. Derek Shepherd, er, Mr. Dempsey (who was most gracious posing for pictures).


Did the chance of spotting Patrick Dempsey get us there? Yep, it did. But we found ourselves walking the grounds talking about how much fun it would be to go back for another race. Watching fast cars, enjoying the beautiful Southern weather … what else could a girl ask for? (OK, a dash of George Clooney would be nice too.)

We’ll be back.


Question: Do you love car racing? We want to hear from you! Leave us a comment and tell us why.  










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  3. Carol Ann

    McDreamy was a pretty good reason to make it out to Barber’s this weekend! It is a jewel in Birmingham’s crown. And Mr. Dempsey speaks highly of it when he’s back home in Los Angeles. My daughter-in-law worked for an Organic Garden designer there and one of her clients was Patrick Dempsey. On the many occasions when he brought her lemonade and cookies, he asked where she was from and when she answered Birmingham she expected the kind of response that most snooty, celebrity-type people give….”Oh. Sorry.” But not this guy. He loves Barber’s. He loves Birmingham. And he loves the friendly people he meets when he comes. Nice guy. And not too shabby to look at either.

    April 2, 2012 at 10:45 am

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