2010 Barber Vintage Festival

Bigger and better than ever

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Fisheye view of the “wine rack” in the Barber museum hints at the scale of the museum’s collection: It’s motoheaven to the max.

Photo by Vicki Smith

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There’s a good chance you’ve heard the old saying, “There are two kinds of riders ... ” Barber Motorsports Park offers a new twist on that: There are those who have been to Barber, and those who want to go to Barber.

The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum and surrounding complex is a genuine mecca for motorcyclists, and once a year the folks at Barber throw a party just for people like us: lovers of classic motorcycles of all types, ages and conditions. And the 2010 Barber Vintage Festival was bigger and better than ever.

When you arrive, start with the museum and experience “motocoma,” the condition most first-time visitors go into somewhere between the front entrance and the elevator that navigates the museum’s five floors of motoheaven. Check out the view from the sweeping glass windows; if you time it just right you may catch a bit of the AHRMA (American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association) vintage races, the air show — complete with pyrotechnics — or maybe even see Sir John Surtees take a lap or two in a replica of the Ferrari 158 F1 he drove to a world championship in 1964, or aboard a factory MV Agusta of the type he rode to successive world championships in the late 1950s.

Once back out in the park the choices are numerous. For those who never see a project too challenging, it might be best to start in the swap meet area. If you prefer to bid for your next machine, the Bator auction has a big lineup, everything from boxes of parts to a 1923 Harley Davidson JDCA Board Track Racer, and often with no reserve.

In between there are bike shows, an antique fire truck display, even an old fashioned Wall of Death carnival show. There’s a free tram to take you around the park, and from the inflatable chapel (really!) to the AHRMA paddock, the whole show is included in one $45 ticket that gets you in for all three days. Museum admission costs extra, but it’s probably the best $15 you’ll ever spend. And don't miss the Motorcycle Classics tent, where you can chat with the editors of the magazine and renew your subscription.

This is the 6th year of one of the best values in entertainment, and from 6,000 people in 2005, word of mouth and just plain great vibes resulted in well over 40,000 people enjoying this year’s sunshine soaked event.

Located in Leeds, Ala., the Barber complex (more a park really, sited as it is on some 650 forested acres) is 30 minutes from Birmingham and about two hours from Atlanta, making access from literally anywhere in the world cheap and easy. Planning’s already in full swing for next year, when the Barber Vintage Festival will be adding a Ducati National Rally to the lineup, making an already irresistible weekend even better.

It all happens again Oct. 7-9, 2011, so make plans to attend now, and check Motorcycle Classics regularly for show updates. MC