There’s a weird symmetry between Simon Pagenaud, who hails from Montmorillon, France and now lives in Charlotte, and Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.
The reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion for Team Penske, Pagenaud made his return to the Verizon IndyCar Series after a four-year absence in a one-off, injury fill-in drive for Ana Beatriz at Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in 2011. That was the first step towards laying the groundwork for a full-time return that followed in 2012 with Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports.
In 2013, Pagenaud and then-teammate Tristan Vautier made a voyage to the Bass Pro Shops right next to the track in Birmingham. This went as you’d expect for the pair of Frenchmen, transplanted into the world of wild animals and game who entered while speaking French and then embracing the store.
Pagenaud’s decisive, aggressive move for the lead on Graham Rahal, his sparring partner the year they competed for the 2006 Atlantic Championship, netted him his second straight victory and helped to propel him from possible to likely championship favorite.
And now heading into this year’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (April 23, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN), Pagenaud and Barber have their latest connection – where Pagenaud learns to speak “Southern” English from an app showcased by his new teammate and Hendersonville, Tenn. native Josef Newgarden.
You can see the video, filmed during IndyCar’s recent open test at Barber last month, above via This is Alabama and aired during Thursday’s NASCAR AMERICA on NBCSN.
If you like racing two-wheel style, make sure you catch the debut of a new multi-year TV broadcast deal featuring the American Flat Track motorcycle racing series on NBCSN.
The 18-round series debuts this Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN with the season-opening race that was held at Daytona International Speedway on March 15.
Going forward, all 18 rounds of the series will be televised on NBCSN in highly-coveted weekend afternoon programming slots without two weeks of each event.
Last season, AFT drew nearly two million viewers on NBCSN with regular primetime coverage on Thursday nights.
This season, the one-hour, tape-delayed telecasts will be part of NBCSN’s regular weekend programing, following or preceding coverage of NASCAR, INDYCAR and Pro Motocross.
AFT is now in its 65th season, with two distinct classes: powerful, twin-cylinder rides in the AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines division, and the competition in the 450cc AFT Singles division.
“We are very excited to kick-off our second season of AFT on NBCSN,” NBC Sports Group Senior Director of Programming Jeff Macaluso. “The 2017 season provided us with some incredible racing and showed us how passionate the riders and fans are of this historic sport.
“The move to weekends this year, around other marquis motorsports properties, is sure to raise the level even higher.”