Barber Vintage Festival Keeps Growing

Reader Contribution by Richard Backus
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Best of class: Clive Taylor and his 1956 Norton Model 99 Dominator.

The 11th Annual Barber Vintage Festival continued the event’s seemingly unstoppable growth curve, with a reported 69,264 motorcycle enthusiasts attending the three-day event Oct. 9-11, 2015. That impressive increase over last year’s 65,365 underscores the Barber festival’s rising popularity with motorcycle enthusiasts of all types, vintage or otherwise.

The annual Motorcycle Classics Vintage Bike Show, held every year since the first festival in 2005, drew an impressive selection of classic bikes. Norton was this year’s featured marque, with Commandos taking center stage. Fifteen Nortons lined up in front of the Motorcycle Classics booth, taking pride of place along with dozens of Japanese and European classics. We awarded trophies in five categories, along with Best Norton and an Editors’ Choice award. Clive Taylor took home our Best Norton award for his stunning 1956 Norton Model 99 Dominator. 1956 was an important year, marking the first upgrade of the 500cc parallel twin introduced in 1949 that would continue to define Norton for another 30 years, right up to the end of Commando production. Editors’ Choice went to Dave Swigler’s 1972 Dunstall Norton Commando 750, an original machine in excellent running order.

Editors’ Choice: Dave Swigler and his 1972 Dunstall Norton Commando 750.

The genius of John Britten, designer of the Britten V1000 that beat the best at Daytona and elsewhere in the early 1990s, was celebrated in the museum and on track, with nine of the 10 V1000s built on display in the museum basement and five — count ’em five — V1000s out on the track for exhibition laps on both Friday and Saturday. Barber employee and former racer Chuck Honeycutt rode the museum’s V1000, which he raced once at Talladega, pulling wheelies on the front straight to the delight of the crowd. Unbelievable, and an experience we all knew would never pass our way again. It was another excellent weekend — exactly what we’ve come to expect of the Barber festival. — Richard Backus

Chuck Honeycutt on the Barber museum’s Britten V1000.

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