Inside the Barber Vintage Festival

Get ready for the 9th Annual Barber Vintage Festival in Leeds, Ala.

Barber Vintage Festival

Logo for the 9th Annual Barber Vintage Festival, October 11-13, 2013, at Barber Motorsports Park.

Photo By MC Staff

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The hotels and motels around Leeds, Ala., are filling up fast, and camping spots at Barber Motorsports Park will be thin on the ground in no time as the 9th Annual Barber Vintage Festival, Oct. 11-13, 2013, at Barber Motorsports Park draws near.

A record 57,000-plus vintage motorcycle enthusiasts descended on Barber’s 740-acre park last year, and the Vintage Festival’s explosive growth — more than 10-fold since the first festival in 2005 — has made it one of the biggest events on the vintage scene, second only to Vintage Motorcycle Days at Mid-Ohio.

It doesn’t hurt having the world’s preeminent motorcycle museum in your backyard, but the festival’s popularity doesn’t hinge just on the museum. The key to success is the Barber organization’s total enthusiasm and engagement for the festival. It starts with founder George Barber and extends to every member of the staff, with everyone making sure the event goes smoothly.

Last year, Ace Café and Dime City Cycles set up the Ace Corner in the infield at Turn 17 for a celebration of all things café. It was an event within the event, and it worked so well it’s returning for 2013. This year’s Ace Corner will again feature Dime City Cycles, along with Café Racer TV and other cool cats from the café scene, plus a biker build-off, an on-site Ace Café and a Saturday night band party.

Also returning is the Century Race for bikes 100 years old or older, won last year by Wheels Through Time museum founder/owner Dale Walksler riding his 1912 Indian. The American Motor Drome Wall of Death also returns, with daredevils on vintage Indians and Harleys riding the wall of a 14-foot tall, 30-foot diameter wooden drum. Amazing stuff. Expect to see the AeroShell Aerobatic Team flying overhead on Saturday, and of course don’t miss the always excellent swap meet.

The Friday night Motorcycles by Moonlight also returns. A fundraiser for the museum, Motorcycles by Moonlight treats donors to an evening of excellent food and even better company. Special guests this year are famed Italian motorcycle designers Miguel Angel Galluzzi and Pierre Terblanche, both formerly with Ducati. Galluzi is best known as the designer of the Ducati M900 Monster, the bike that launched the naked bike category and now 20 years in production, while Terblanche is acclaimed for creating the Ducati Multistrada, the Sport Classics line and the controversial 999 Superbike, recognized as a milestone machine. International motorcycle journalist, vintage racer and regular Motorcycle Classics contributor Alan Cathcart will interview Galluzi and Terblanche during the dinner.

Throw in vintage racing with rounds 17 and 18 of the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association/CPL Systems National Historic Cup Roadrace series, Legends of Motocross, Speed & Sport observed trials and Penton Cross Country and you have a weekend of vintage motorcycling not to be missed. And when you visit the museum, take a look out the trackside windows toward Turn 9: The construction you’ll see is a new museum annex. Plans call for a four-story building housing the museum’s car collection, special exhibits and maybe even a new banquet hall, connected to the main museum by a 30-foot wide, glass-covered walkway.

And don’t miss the Motorcycle Classics/Dairyland Cycle Barber Vintage Bike Show. Our featured marque this year is BMW, celebrating the Bavarian marque’s 90th anniversary. We’ll have a special trophy for Best In Show BMW, along with trophies for best restored and best rider in five other categories including British, European, American, Japanese and Custom. BMW owners and riders are especially encouraged to join us, and even if you don’t enter your bike we’ll have a special parking corral for all BMW riders. It’s an event not to be missed. MC