By MADOLINE MARKHAM
Vintage race cars and all manners of a street festival will once again roll into Mountain Book Village on the evening of Friday, May 20. The interactive celebration of historic and contemporary racing will offer an opportunity to see the cars and drivers up close, as well as music and festivities in shops and restaurants. The event serves as the opener of the Legends of Motorsports races at Barber Motorsports Park, May 20-22.
“We had such a positive response last year that we couldn’t imagine not coming back,” said Rena Shanaman, president of Legends of Motorsports. “Race participants told other drivers they needed to come to Barber and come to Birmingham and experience it.”
Road rallies have long been a tradition for Legends events, so when plans were first made to come to Birmingham in 2010, Shanaman discussed the idea of a road rally with Barber and, upon visiting, decided Mountain Brook was an ideal location. “The scenic highway 78 route [from Barber] looked perfect,” she said.
“It’s probably the most enthused I’ve seen Mountain Brook,” Sperry Snow said of last year’s event.
“We’re hoping for good weather, minimal disruption to the village, and that people will appreciate the unique experience the rally is for our city,” Mayor Terry Oden said.
What exactly makes it so unique? “For people who love beautiful cars, it’s a wonderful way to enjoy them in family-friendly atmosphere,” Shanaman said. “You can talk with car owners in an up-close and personal way, an atmosphere more casual than the track during the race. It’s a wonderful preview of the Barber weekend.” There will also be a private reception in the village for the drivers that will draw them to the public event.
“I like to see the cars running and cranked up,” Mayor Oden said.
Anyone who comes has the opportunity to talk with drivers and take pictures with their cars. Visitors can also meet Bobby Rahal, retired driver and founding partner of Legends of Motorsports.
Adding to the local festival atmosphere, Mountain Brook Village shops and restaurants will be open all day, and many will offer open houses and other festivities. There will also be music and giveaways in the village.
“It’s sort of like a summer street party,” Shanaman said. “The community comes out and sees neighbors with the backdrop of gorgeous cars.”
Hannon Davidson of the Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce recommends visitors arrive around 4 p.m.
The first road rally of 50-60 club cars will process in down Montevallo Road with police escort around 4:30 p.m. These more contemporary cars include Porsches, Ferraris, Lotuses, Mustangs and Corvettes and are owned by members of local car clubs. They will circle around the middle of the village before parking in a Club Car Village in the Western parking lot. Other parts of the lot will remain open for public parking.
Twenty-five historic Legends race cars will roll in arrive around 5:45 p.m. and park in the inside circle of the village. Each of these cars will compete in the Legends of Motorsports at Barber later in the weekend. In addition to the cars that drive in, Legends hopes to bring in some race cars on trailers like historic Formula One Grand Prix cars.
“We are hoping people will come line the streets event and welcome the drivers,” Shanaman said.
Legends of Motorsports’ car categories include the Historic Grand Prix, Thunder and Lightning Production Cars, 2.0 Liter Sports Racers, IMSA/FIA GT, Can/Am, Formula Libre, GT 2000 and Classic Monoposto.
The event will conclude around 7:45 p.m. when the cars without headlights will proceed back to Barber for their races the following day.
From 4 to 8:30 p.m all roads that run through the village will be closed, but the outer loops around the village including Culver Road and Petticoat Lane will be open.
For up-to-date information on parking, merchants’ specials and other event details, visit the Chamber of Commerce website, www.welcometomountainbrook.com. For more information about Legends of Motorsports at Barber Motorsports Park, visit www.legendsofmotorsports.com or www.barbermotorsports.com/legends.