The 8th Annual Barber Vintage Festival and MotoGiro-South: Southern Breeze

Café racers make the scene at the 8th Annual Barber Vintage Festival, while small-bore exotics hit the back roads of Alabama in the MotoGiro-South.

| March/April 2013

A record 57,000-plus vintage bike enthusiasts attended the 8th Annual Barber Vintage Festival, adding even more momentum to a show that’s become the de facto king of classic motorcycle events in the U.S.

The basic ingredients to success — old bikes, great people and an amazing (OK, mind-blowing) venue — have always been in place at Barber. And while there’s no denying the Barber organization’s apparent advantage of deep pockets, what makes their event special and what really drives its growth is something money can’t buy: Engagement.

The level of engagement at Barber is palpable, starting with the Barber staff (who in the best Southern tradition make each and every attendee feel like the show just wouldn’t be the same without them) and extending to every vendor, every vintage racer and the collectors who haul in literally acres of vintage motorcycles. An amazingly positive vibe drives a lot of talk about Barber, and as word spreads the event draws a wider audience every year, broadening the appeal of vintage motorcycling.

Café racers on the prowl …

The burgeoning café scene took center stage at Barber in 2012, with the legendary Ace Café London and Dime City Cycles occupying the infield area at Turn 17, where they were joined by dozens of other café specialists including Loaded Gun Customs, Cafe Fabrications and Biltwell. Rolled cuffs and greased-back hair were the order of the day, as café fans loaded up on fish and chips and checked out the impressive selection of café builds on hand, including Mabel, the stunning Dime City Cycle/Iron & Air Magazine giveaway bike and easily one of the nicest machines on display at the Ace Corner.

Outside Turn 17 the festival delivered everything we’ve come to expect from Barber, including a top-notch swap meet and American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association racing, with rounds 17 and 18 of the AHRMA/CPL Systems National Historic Cup Roadrace Series taking place on the world-class Barber track. Vintage dirt bike fans took in AHRMA Trials and Cross Country, and the Race of the Century for bikes 100 years old and older returned, with Wheels Through Time’s Dale Walksler leading the 10-strong field to take the win on his 1912 Indian.

There is, in fact, always so much going on at the Barber Festival it’s almost impossible to take it all in. If you didn’t want to watch the racing action you could wander the pits for a close-up look at vintage race bikes, or head over to the museum for any one of 18 tech seminars held throughout the weekend. You could also check out Saturday’s Jerry Wood’s Cyclemarket & Auction, or stroll up the hill from the swap meet and check out the always excellent selection of vintage Japanese motorcycles on display at the VJMC. There was also the Antique Motorcycle Club of America’s annual show, which was bigger than ever for 2012.

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