Overwhelming, but in a really good way. That’s the best way to describe the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. Officially categorized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest motorcycle museum, the collection at Barber contains over 1,400 motorcycles with over 650 on display at any one time.
Over 20 manufacturers are represented, and the collections spans over 100 years of motorcycling’s history. This is truly a destination that no motorcycle enthusiast should miss.
Founded by George Barber in 1995, the museum started in downtown Birmingham, Alabama before moving to its current location in the Birmingham suburb of Leeds in 2003.
The 144,000 square foot museum comfortably rests on the grounds of the Barber Motorsports Park, with the entire back half of the building overlooking the popular 2.38 mile track.
George Barber started as a car racer, racing Porsches and racking up 63 victories. From that background, he began collecting cars, but quickly realized there were numerous world-class car collections that already existed.
On the other hand, there really wasn’t a world class motorcycle museum that truly captured the history of the sport. Barber saw an opportunity, began collecting motorcycles, and the rest is history.
This past weekend, the largest gathering of Britten Motorcycles occurred at the Barber Vintage Festival at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.
As many of you know, John Britten was a brilliant motorcycle designer from New Zealand who built a total of ten Britten V1000 racing motorcycles before his untimely death from cancer in 1995, at the age of 45.
These bikes were definitely ahead of their time and Britten’s engineering genius has been admired, even well after his passing.
George Barber, the founder and owner of the Barber Motorsports Park and Museum, was an early Britten backer and owner, who decided to pay tribute to Britten at this year’s Barber Vintage Festival.
Nine of the ten Brittens ever produced were at the event; the most ever gathered in one place, at one time. The only Britten not present was number three, which is owned by the people of New Zealand and is proudly displayed at the Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand.
Throughout the weekend there were multiple events that paid tribute to John Britten and the amazing motorcycles he designed and fabricated. This included Brittens on the track during the daily lunch intermission.
Beautiful weather, rolling green hills, and a world class facility; all punctuated by a crowd of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts. Welcome to the Barber Vintage Festival at Barber Motorsports Park.
This year marks the 11th anniversary of the event and the crowd was as big as ever. Last year, over 65,000 people attended during the three day event and this year didn’t seem any different.
Of course, the highlight of this year’s event was the largest gathering of Britten V1000 motorcycles ever (which we’ll cover in-depth in a separate article), and as always, there was great vintage motorcycle racing by the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association (AHRMA).
Everywhere you looked, there were motorcycles. The amazing thing about this event is the variety. Unlike many events where the focus is on one type of motorcycle, Barber focuses on a little bit of everything.
There is positive momentum around America’s new MotoAmerica series, which will takeover duties from DMG and AMA Pro Road Racing, starting next season. We have already seen the series’ new class structure, which makes significant steps to parallel what’s going on in the World Superbike Championship.
Today, we see MotoAmerica’s efforts on its racing schedule, a hot-ticket item after DMG’s five, then six, race schedule this season. American fans should rejoice, as eight races are on the calendar, which reads like a greatest hits album of American race tracks.
Supporting both American grand prix at COTA and Indy, as well as the WSBK round at Laguna Seca, the provisional MotoAmerica calendar includes, Road Atlanta, VIR, Road America, Barber, and NJMP. West Coast racing fans are still S.O.L. though, with only one race west of The Rockies on the docket thus far.