USF1 to test F1 car in America

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USF1 will test in the shadow of Barber Motorsports Park's massive spider

USF1 has confirmed its 2010 F1 preparations will begin at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. Peter Windsor told the official F1 website:

We’ve got the dispensation from the FIA, which is fantastic, because we are not based in Europe. We are the only team that does have a test circuit outside Europe, so it is totally logical for us that we run the car the first time in the US at the beginning of February.

See below for more pictures and a map of the track.

The 17-turn circuit is around 400 miles from USF1’s base in Charlotte, North Carolina. It’s one of America’s newest tracks having opened in 2003.

The winding layout features rather more gradient than you would see on a typical modern F1 track. It is also quite a bit shorter than a typical F1 track at 3.7km (2.38 miles).

It also has one very unusual addition – a series of sculptures of giant animals including a spider and a dragonfly.

The lap record at the track is a 1’09.455 set by Will Power during an IRL test. IF USF1’s car can’t beat that we’ll know they’re in trouble.

USF1 will join the other F1 teams to test in Spain before the season begins at Bahrain, which suggests that although their Barber test dates have not been confirmed they must be quite early in February.

If you’re an F1 fan in America who’s planning to go and see the test please leave a comment below.

Barber Motorsports Park track pictures

The Barber Motorsports Park has been used for testing by the Indy Racing League, which will race there for the first time later this year. Here are some pictures from their test which give a good impression of what the track looks like:

Barber Motorsports Park track map

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Image (C) Indy Racing League

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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89 comments on “USF1 to test F1 car in America”

  1. Prisoner Monkeys
    8th January 2010, 12:33

    Jeebus, Keith, are you trying to give me a heart attack with the pictures of giant spiders?

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      8th January 2010, 12:34

      Also, if anyone posts pictures of giant spiders from here on in, I will end you.

      1. What about incredibly zoomed in photos of very small spiders?

        Good to see another track get some F1 rubber laid on it. Looks like it’s got a fair bit of undulation too.

      2. Lol! So tempted to post spider pictures right now :P But I won’t be so mean. The legs do look a little… scary lol
        The track looks good and seems to receive a positive response on this site. If F1 ever does return to the US is it plausibe that it could host a race?

        1. Of the road racing courses in America only the Indianapolis road circuit has the required level grade for safety/infrastructure to hold a Grand Prix. Looking at these pictures I can think of a few reasons why Barber might not be. It only seems to have low-level barriers, not the tall crash barriers you see in F1, especially around the pit lane. I suspect the gradient exceeds the maximums allowed for a new circuit too.

          1. I think the track looks great, but I agree, no more spiders please Keith. lol

          2. Plus they’ll need to actually build a pitlane complex. So far it just seems to have a ‘parking lot’ in which the Indycar teams can pitch their garage gazebos.

          3. José Baudaier
            8th January 2010, 22:02

            I’m sure all of these changes can be made if it is to have a F1 race there.

          4. Having spent some memorable weekends at Barber, it makes perfect sense to test USf1 there. It was originally designed for motorcycle racing, but is also used for Grand Am and sports car clubs. And it features a world-class museum (and I’ve seen racing museums everywhere.) The track is extremely smooth, though not very wide, which would eliminate it from F1 consideration. But there ARE permanent pit facilites, ojkay. And I’m blown away by the spiderphobes ya’ll have across the Atlantic! (and I’m a lady, not afraid of spiders.) Maybe I can sneak in the USF1 test!

    2. I finally get a F1 event near me and if I go I will have to endure giant spiders!…I HATE spiders!!

      The track is very close to me (I live in Georgia) so,if I go I will be sure to try and get the scoop on the first running of our USF1 car.

      1. Where in GA? I’m in Atlanta.

        1. @mfDB

          Twenty minutes down Interstate 75 in Marietta.

          Keith….looks like you have a f1fanatic chapter here in Georgia.By my count we have four of us here.Send t-shirts please :)

          1. 5 if you count my Dad, he reads, but doesn’t post. Definitely a Georgia chapter going. I grew up in Marietta…

          2. Make it six. In Atlanta and interested in going.

        2. so am I!

          1. Live in Tucker, work in Chamblee

  2. Lucky drivers those who can enjoy this circuit in an F1. I’ve played this circuit in rfactor and it’s absolutely gorgeous: the gradients, the flow… Soooo unlike modern F1 circuits!!

    1. That looks like McLean’s corner on Donnington…

    2. Did you notice that the ant is eating the Stig!! 8O

      1. oh yeah! lol

    3. Why is there a giant ant eating the Stig’s cousin? lol

      1. I see that another ant is holding a bottle of Coca-Cola, which is headquarered nearby in Atlanta. I presume Coke, and whoever is represented there by The Stig’s double, have some sort of sponsor deals with the track. It is quite unconventional for adverts at circuits- not exactly the usual fare from FOM.

        Hmmm…I wonder if Bernie shows up at the test, can we get one of the ants to eat him as well? ;)

    4. Fantastic pic

  3. I thought this was a fictional track for rFactor, I had no idea it was a real circuit! I absolutely adore this track and it is an absolute pleasure to drive and to look at, USF1 has just gained some major appreciation haha!

  4. It’s definately an awesome track, I wondr if it could be given an extra mile or two in the same vein and become the US’s long desired Grand Prix venue.

    The big question for me about USF1 is weather they can attract the talent from the american motorsports industry to be competative. They’re clearly far to far away to attract European talents in numbers, almost like Toyota were. Can a team be competative in a motor heartland intrested in other things? I suppose the first indication, like Keith says is by how far they can break the tracks lap record.

    1. Add a mile and…a lot of that stuff that make it a FIA standard compliant track.
      I absolutely support that, looks very interesting.

      1. Ditto. Although what the FIA would want it to do to “upgrade” it might end up making it worse, sadly. That high gradient corner would have to go for a start.

  5. I think this post needs an Arachnophobia Warning

  6. Barber was designed as a motorcycle track, but it’s hosting it’s first IRL race in April (already got my tickets for that!) There is only one small grandstand and the rest is just open sitting on the hillsides. If USF1 plan to run on a Saturday or Sunday, then I’ll go for sure. I can’t take off work to go watch testing during the weekdays, but Barber is close enough to me that I can drive there for the weekend.

  7. For me, that I’m not used to gradient tracks anymore, this image is gourgeous!!!

    1. That’s cool thanks for posting it. I image a similar map for Shanghai or Abu Dhabi would be a lot flatter!

  8. I’m about a 12 hour drive from there. Would be nice if I could go. Have to see if they’ll let people in to see.
    Would be great if it was on a weekend.

  9. Hi,

    I read that USF1 will not make it onto the grid. 3 News items lead to that conclusion.

    1) They have not done any crash testing according to Auto Motor Sport (that puts them 2 month behind every other GP team!) Source: Auto Motor Sport – Ger

    2) Apparently USF1 was the only team that voted against the banning of the selling of the rights to be an f1 Team. – F1Fanatics website

    3) Still no confirmed driver line-up for 2010

    I guess USF1 is not going to be there for the first race – Testing pictures would prove otherwise.

    1. 1. Auto Motor Sport is far, far from the most accurate or trustworthy source for F1 news. I would trust Planet F1 before I would trust them, wich says alot.

      2. The selling of the rights vote has been deined by the team’s people numerous times.

      3. So what if they don’t have their drivers confirmed yet- that is supposed to happen in the next two weeks, from what I hear close to the operation.

      USF1 will be there. What really disappoints me is that they appear to be lining up to rookie pay drivers, neither of whom has a single F1 start to their name. I remember the big thing about them employing at least one American in the first year was they they wouldn’t have experience- no problem, but if they have two rookies with zero experience in the car, neither of whom is an American, what’s the point?

      1. Absolutely agree about Auto Motor und Sport. I still don’t get how a respected car magazine that sends experienced journalists to all the races can be so inaccurate. I’m occasionally following their website, here are some of their other “highlights”:
        -calling Piquet’s replacement “Sébastien Grosjean” in several articles
        -Confirming Button and Rosberg as Mercedes GP drivers on the day Mercedes GP was announced
        -recently running a big article about the new points system being illegal and the teams planning a protest – strange that the teams don’t seem to know about that.

        Overall, Auto Motor und Sport is propably the least reliable site out there.

    2. Am I the only one sick of hearing people whine about the crash testing issue? A lot of that work can be done by computer simulation now. There really is no need to waste resources building parts just to destroy. They only need to do an actual physical crash test when they want the final car to pass inspection. Some people are so quick to argue that crash testing can’t be done via simulation, but I would be these same people wouldn’t think twice about getting into a commercial airliner. (You all do realize these are extensively crash testing in simulation during design now. They don’t build thousands of variations of airline parts take them all up in the air and drop them.) One would expect that people would realize that if the process can be effectively utilized on planes, things shot into space, etc., then its really not much at all to take that process and apply it to F1 cars that will for the most part be moving in only two dimensions.

      1. At any rate, the test has now been done: USF1 car undergoes crash test (Video)

  10. I love the track, only a few hours drive for me. So if I am able I’ll be there for the test.

    As far as holding an F1 race, I think that’s very doubtful. There is absolutely nothing around that track as far as hospitality. I remember the teams complaing about Indianapolis not being good enough, so a lot had gone over to Chicago. This is also in the heart of NASCAR country. It will be interesting to see how well the IRL race goes.

  11. What exactly is the “special dispensation” USF1 have been granted?

    “We won’t make you fl to Jerez for pre-season testing” ??

    I would assume teams had freedom to go where they wished. Is Barber Motorsports Park not FIA approved or sommat?

    1. Interesting question. The sporting regulations just say:

      No track testing is permitted at sites which are not currently approved for use by Formula 1 cars. In order to ensure that venue licence conditions are respected at all times during track testing, competitors are required to inform the FIA of their test schedule in order that an observer may be appointed if deemed necessary.

      1. I can only assume this is what the special dispensation is related to.

        With the demise of Formula 1 at Indy (booo!) I imagine there are no FIA-certifed tracks to test on. Montreal is miles away, and presumably buried in snow at this time of year anyway.

        Saves them having to fly to Europe for testing. Which again questions the wisdom of having a factory Stateside… but they’ve made their carbon fibre bed so they’ll have to sleep in it :)

        1. Indy is stil certified. They invited the FIA to look at the new MotoGP configuration and it was approved.

          I think the reason USF1 didn’t try to test at Indy is obvious: it is freaking cold there this time of year! Hell, there may be ice and snow on the track. Alabama will be much warmer.

  12. Good news for american fans hoping to get a preseason view of USF1. I was just hoping they would test a VIR . Closer to them and ME!

    Barber is an awesome track , mid 1:30’s with a 125cc shifter kart.

  13. any bets on their fastest lap? how much faster would you expect it to be than an IRL car?

    1. couple of seconds probs. I predict the F1 car should aim for 1 to 1’05 mins…

    2. I’m almost certain that they won’t break the lap record first time out (this is a new team after all). But they should go for it in the second test. If they don’t break it at all, they’ll be in trouble but we won’t know for sure until we see them on the same track as the other newcomers. In my opinion they’ll all start the year at least 3 seconds away from pole position and over one second away from the nearest established team, with the possible exception of STR. We shouldn’t expect miracles from them, they’ll be happy if they make it to the finish line in the first few races.

  14. I live about an hour from Charlotte and I’ve been to Barber before and it’s a great track. However, it would be much more logical to test at Virginia International Raceway. It’s only about 3-4 hours away on the NC/VA border and is by far the best circuit in the US. It’s in the middle of nowhere, but ask anyone who’s driven it, professional or otherwise (I’ve driven it in the otherwise category), and they’ll tell you it’s great. Especially the pros. Has a little bit of everything and would be great for testing. A lot of drivers in other series will show up to drive in the Daytona series race just for kicks. Check it out on google maps if you you get a chance. It’s just outside a town called Danville, Virginia.

  15. If I were closer I wold so go. But I am not.

  16. I live in Atlanta so I’m pretty much right between Charlotte and the Barber track!! My Dad and I will be there “for sure”. Anyone else going?

    Kieth, can you help by posting dates and times as soon as you see them? I’ll take my cameras out there and try to get some good pics!

    I sure hope everyone that says USF1 won’t be there is wrong. Even if they are at the back, I think this will be good for F1 and the US, and it will be good for me!

    1. well! i would’ve thought its a fictional for Rfactor doing…

    2. plz tell me the way of booking and getting tickets…just to know about

  17. I would be surprised if they go faster than the IRL cars straight out of the box. Ferrari didnt manage it at Laguna Seca and while Toyota did, it was a sorted car with an experienced driver and it took a few laps.

    1. Actually, the Laguna Seca track record that Toyota were gunning for was set by a Champ Car, not an IRL car. Sadly, the IndyCars now used in the IRL have their engines detuned for reliability and are typically two or three seconds slower…at least. IIRC, a couple years ago, at some of the tighter street circuits, the LMP2 cars in the ALMS would outqualify them. It’s a shame, as the Panoz/Cosworth spec car that Champ Car introduced in its final season in 2007 was quite a fast machine–Bourdais broke Zonta’s Toyota record at Laguna by half a second.

  18. Just noticed the track is between Leeds and Birmingham!

    Maybe it’s just me but I always find it strange reading about towns in the US that have the same name as our British ones.

    1. Yea, in the US you find either British, French, Spanish, or American Indian names for just about everything. Makes sense though…I bet the folks that settled Birmingham, AL were from, well, Birmingham England…
      Everything was named by the people that settled the area and if they didn’t know what to call it they named it after the local Indians.

      1. José Baudaier
        8th January 2010, 22:44

        Doesn’t need to go so deep as Birmingham, AL for this, just need to think the most famous American city: New YORK.

  19. One big question? WHO WILL BE DRIVING THE CAR! Enough with the secrets Peter! ANNOUNCE YOUR DRIVERS!

    1. There are sculptures all over the property, some of them really neat. Personally, I like the bugs; something different and very photogenic on TV.

  20. Oh and by he way, What the #%*# is with the spider?

  21. I meant, by the way

  22. I seem some footage of this track with indy cars going around. Looks a good track. In some respects i would like to see tracks like this in F1 with the scenery around it. Doesnt look to rich like Abu Dhabi. The cameras will focus more on the racing than the surroundings (Abu Dhabi hotel, monaco boats etc)

    I wish there was a track to every teams home country. German teams will have Nurburgring. British teams will have silverston. Italian teams will have monza etc etc and american teams will have indianapolis or this track :)

    1. Cool idea, but just one hitch. Force India is just across the road from Silverstone, yet is registered in India, where there currently is no F1

      1. I meant to say no F1 circuit. So where do they test?

        1. they can be giving an option, if a team has there home country force india will have the right to choose where they want. Or they get to have the closest F1 registered track. Which is i dont know, my geography aint very good.

          1. tbh i think its a great idea. Teams dont have to fork out money to travel half way around the world to the only test track. Its a good way to cut costs. places like germany have 2 tracks. they can use 1 for testing and 1 for the race.

            Also good for the fans who follow there national team. If every team has a home race. People will beable to go watch them. Force india for instance. If they can somehow find a track close to home. Im sure people from india who follow them will be willing to travel to watch them.

          2. you do realise that the German teams are actually based in………….. England. As is Force India. As is the Malaysian registered Lotus.
            So if they were to test in their ‘home’ country, they WOULD be travelling half way around the world to do so, which would be vastly more expensive than what they are doing now!
            And the German teams wouldn’t be able to test in Germany during winter given it is cold and snowed in. Nor would the English teams. Which means the only teams able to test would be the Italian teams.

            Its not a great idea. Its a terrible idea.

  23. i don’t care for the giant bugs at all :/

  24. Absolutely my favorite American track to race in RACE07/GTR Evo. etc..Can’t imagine racing it in a car with as much downforce as an F1 car :O.

  25. @mfDB

    I live in Rome, GA, which is in northwest Georgia. I am originally from Atlanta though. I will be attending the test also.

    I can’t wait to have F1 back in America, even if it is only for a test session. Hopefully the powers that be can get the US race back on the F1 calendar.

  26. Makes you wonder why they built the spiders in the first place.

  27. Re: the spiders

    I live in Birmingham (the one in Alabama) and I’m a regular at the track. George Barber has a wicked sense of humor, an appreciation for art, and more money than God. So there is bizarre art all over the place at the track. My favorite is a sculpture of a zombie climbing out of a culvert in a track-side retaining pond.

  28. I and many from Atlanta will be there!

    1. HounslowBusGarage
      9th January 2010, 20:24

      Chris, I hope you take and post loads of photographs and give us a lap-by-lap report! Enjoy.

      1. Yea, I’ll be there too and will take my nice DSLR. I will attempt to post the pics or send them to Kieth!

  29. Well,it certainly looks like us southern boys and girls are interested in more than NASCAR!Six or seven people from Georgia….I am lovin’ this!I hope my job will not prevent me from going to this test.I would really like to meet you guys.

    1. I think we’re closer to 10 in GA alone, a few of my friends will go, but don’t post here…yet…

  30. wow a lot of F1 fanatic users live near this track! good to see, strong motorsport culture in general i’m guessing? The track looks good (how ridiculous is that rule about gradient change?), i like the sculptures i think they look great and are original, but then i have no phobia :) Why the secrecy with their drivers? It’s no like they are preparing to surprise us all with Mika are they?

    1. The Hak is back!? If only, then he can beat up on m schumacher again.. the good old days. Well not too old.

  31. I would definitely like to attend the test session also.

    Unfortunately, early indications from Birmingham are that the sessions will not be open to the public…

    “If the test session does occur, it would be closed to the public, Hallman said”

    1. The track will likely be closed to the public but the museum will be open. It’s five stories overlooking the track. It’s a good vantage point.

  32. just testing….so no big deal.

  33. Well, I’m in Chicago, and there is 100% no chance of a test here any time soon, but my dream is to see an F1 car test in person at Road America. I don’t know about a race, because the requirements of the F1 circus would destroy its soul. Maybe Autobahn CC, that doesn’t have a soul yet, and it looks like a good circuit.

    Anyway, how awesome would it be for the test to be at Road Atlanta, even though there is no runoff at turn 12.

  34. “Anyway, how awesome would it be for the test to be at Road Atlanta, even though there is no runoff at turn 12.”

    Would be my dream come true!

  35. When will they return in Europe to do testing with the other teams?

  36. You guys, when is testing going to be done, I live in mobile and I would not mind taking the trip to see the car! Please give test date

  37. Interesting…

  38. I just discovered your forum. I’m in Birmingham, just a few miles from the Barber track. I’m disapppointed to hear that USF1 testing will not be open to the public. The recent IRL testing was open and it is probably due to the huge fan response that they are coming in April for an official race. Frankly though the track, while great for viewing, is not a great track for cars. It’s too narrow and the straight is too short for the cars to streach their legs. Passing is difficult too. It’s beautiful though. George Barber did a great thing in building this and an even better thing in keeping it in private hands where he can maintain control over the quality of the facility.

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