Brittens at the 11th Annual Barber Vintage Festival

Reader Contribution by The Motorcycle Classics Staff
article image

One of 10: The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum’s Britten V-1000. Photo by Neale Bayly.

The 11th Annual Barber Vintage Festival at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, happens Oct. 9-11, 2015. This year’s event pays tribute to New Zealand architect and engineer John Britten, the visionary creator of the incredible Britten V-1000 race bike. Drawing from a clean sheet of ideas and built using composite materials, John Britten’s V-1000 was without question the most innovative motorcycle of its day and quickly proved the soundness of its creator’s design on tracks around the world. Unfortunately, John Britten died at the age of 45 in 1995, after just 10 of his iconic pink and blue V-1000s were built.

The 2015 Barber Festival is slated to feature the largest gathering of Britten V-1000s ever held, with at least six machines expected to be on hand — and possibly more. Barber museum executive director Jeff Ray says the Brittens will be the centerpiece for this year’s museum fundraiser, An Evening with Britten.

The dinner event will be held in the museum restoration shop and will feature an interview with John Britten’s wife, Kirsteen. The owners and caretakers of the assembled bikes will be on hand as well, answering questions and discussing their machines. The Friday night event will be followed by a not-to-be-missed parade lap on Saturday, with at least four of the Brittens on the track! The Brittens will also make appearances in the race paddock throughout the day. There’s no word yet on dinner ticket prices, but festival updates are being posted regularly on the Barber Festival website.

Other event features include the American Motor Drome Company’s Wall of Death, with vintage Indian motorcycles running circles inside a 15-foot wooden drum; the Ace Corner inside turns 14-17, a special area hosted by Dime City Cycles and Ace Cafe North America for fans of café racers, customs and specials; the annual AMCA and VJMC shows; the Century Parade, a special exhibition race for bikes 100 years old or older; plus hundreds of vendors in the America’s First Fan Zone and one of the best vintage motorcycle swap meets in the country.

We’ll be there, hosting our annual Motorcycle Classics Vintage Bike Show on Saturday, Oct. 11, this year celebrating the 40th anniversary of the last Norton sold in the U.S., the 1975 Commando 850. Former Norton employee and current Barber restoration expert Brian Slark will help with judging, and we’ll award trophies in five classes including Featured Marque (Norton), British, American, European, Japanese and Custom. Oil specialists Spectro Oils will give a seminar on understanding motorcycle oil for vintage motorcycles at our tent at 10 a.m. Saturday and Matt Wiley from Race Tech will give a seminar on vintage suspension tuning at 12 noon. So bring your scoot — Norton Commando or otherwise — and join us for the day.

An estimated 65,000-plus enthusiasts attended the 2014 event, making the Barber Festival the largest vintage motorcycle event in the U.S. Those record crowds and the resulting long lines into the park motivated the museum to make changes to aide entry into this year’s festival. Wristbands will be the only credentials, and you won’t be able to enter the Barber Parkway without one. Cars will be encouraged to park off-site, with a short shuttle ride ferrying festival goers into the park. A limited number of on-site car parking passes will be available for $10.

Like every Barber Festival before, this is guaranteed to be the vintage event of the year, so whatever you do, don’t miss it! More details are on the festival website.

Motorcycle Classics Magazine
Motorcycle Classics Magazine
Motorcycle Classics Magazine Featuring the most brilliant, unusual and popular motorcycles ever made!