Barber Vintage Festival 2016

Ducatis shine at our bike show and Colin Edwards hands out the awards at the Barber Vintage Festival.

| January/February 2017

It’s possible, just possible, that the Barber Vintage Festival is finally peaking. Not in terms of excellence — it’s hard to imagine putting a cap on the scope and quality of people and machines that define the event — but in terms of sheer size. Until this year, the event has grown almost exponentially every year, from an estimated 6,000 attendees in 2005 to more than 69,000 in 2015. For 2016, that rocketing rise finally ebbed: Just over 73,000 enthusiasts attended the three-day festival, held Oct. 7-9, making this the first year it hasn’t seen double-digit growth.

That’s hardly bad news. As the event matures it keeps getting better. Ease of access to and from the park was the best yet, and if attendance growth really is slowing it means that instead of focusing on crowd control, the Barber folks can continue focusing on keeping it the biggest and best vintage event in the country.

The Texas Tornado

Motorcycle racing is central to the festival, with AHRMA racers plying the park’s 2.38-mile track in the AHRMA/CPL Systems Historic Cup Roadrace on Saturday and Sunday. Every year the Barber crew celebrates racers and engineers past and present, and this year it was two-time world champion Colin Edwards’ turn to shine under the spotlight. Edwards raced for Yamaha and then Honda, his stratospheric rise and aggressive riding style earning him the nickname The Texas Tornado. He won both his World Superbike championships with Honda, in 2000 and 2002.

An affable, almost self-deprecating man who’s clearly more comfortable putting the spotlight on others than himself, Edwards charmed Friday night’s invitation and museum-member-only crowd during an interview with motojournalist Alan Cathcart celebrating the museum’s new 86,000-square-foot addition. He took that same charm to the track on Saturday, lapping the Barber circuit on the same Yamaha TZ250 he rode in his first year as a professional rider, in 1992.

Yet even with all that going on, Edwards found time to come by the Motorcycle Classics tent to hand out trophies and shake hands with winners in our annual Barber Vintage Bike Show. Furthering the impression of a humble man, he deferred any praise of his accomplishments, instead calling out to the crowd with a reminder that motorcycling and motorcycle racing is great only because of their support.

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