Alabama, a Treasure . . . February Adventures

Alabama is not typically thought of as a tourist destination, but we would do well to check out what people from all over the world come to experience. I have been honored in February to participate in two very memorable events, both in Birmingham. As a result, I discovered some jewels in the state that Alabamians should take advantage of.

The first event was an emeritus ceremony honoring Earl Pearce. I, along with two other former AIAA Earl Pearce award winners, presented this great man with a section coin for his achievements.

The second event was an opportunity to race the new Porsche 911 and be interviewed on Bloomberg Radio.

I was born and raised in Huntsville, so I’ve been an Alabamian all my life. I’ve visited the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, the number one tourist attraction in Alabama, dozens of times, as well as other attractions here, but Alabama has much to offer.

The Earl Pearce event was held at the Southern Museum of Flight, a very cool museum featuring all types of flying machines with a special tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen.

Did you know you can attend driving school in Leeds, Alabama, just outside Birmingham, and drive a fast car like a professional race car driver? I raced a Porsche on the speedway at the Barber Motorsports Park. The Porsche Sport Driving School is based at the park and draws students from across the country and around the world. The new Barber Proving Grounds allows companies like Mercedes-Benz to bring in their representatives from all over the world to test their cars to their limits. I was fortunate to experience a condensed version of the Porsche driving school in one day as I competed with a former fighter pilot and a car designer for the best time. It was an exhilarating experience.
And right there on the property is an amazing museum that has the world’s largest collection of motorcycles, in addition to bicycles, sports cars, and race cars. An expansion is underway that will add 84,650 square feet to the 144,000-square-foot facility. Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum was named one of 16 intriguing places to see in 2016 by CNN.
On the way back to Huntsville from Birmingham, I did a stop-off at the Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman to see 125 famous historic buildings and shrines of the world. These were built by a monk with great craftsmanship and patience.
I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of 2016 has to offer. Don’t forget to check out what’s in your own backyard!