Barber Vintage Festival 2015

Brittens and more at the 11th Annual Barber Vintage Festival.

| January/February 2016

In 10 years, the Barber Festival has grown to become the largest vintage motorcycle event held anywhere in the U.S. Two sets of numbers tell it all: 6,000 — that’s how many people attended the first event in 2005; 69,264 — that’s how many people Bruno Event Team, the event management company charged with corralling the annual Barber Vintage Festival, says attended the annual three-day event in 2015 — a 1,054 percent increase.

That growth is hardly surprising to the Barber faithful, and it’s likely largely thanks to them that it’s occurred. Simply put, once you’ve been, you’ll tell everyone you know that if there’s only one show they can attend, it has to be Barber — and as the event’s growth curve suggests, people are listening.

Brittens on track

2015 marked the 20th anniversary of New Zealand engineer John Britten’s death. The designer and builder of the now-legendary V-1000 race bike, Britten left an indelible mark on the motorcycle industry, and the Barber crew was determined to honor his legacy by getting as many as possible of the 10 V-1000s built together at Barber. They succeeded brilliantly, with nine on hand.

Britten’s widow, Kirsteen, took the spotlight during the annual Friday night charity dinner, held this year in the Barber basement, the nine Brittens prominently displayed in the adjoining restoration workshop. That was Friday night, and it got even better Saturday and Sunday when five of the Brittens took to the track. The wail of even one Britten, its 999cc quad-cam V-twin pumping out 166 horsepower as it romps down the track, is incredible. But to hear five at once was utterly magical. It was the experience of a lifetime, and everyone watching knew it.

American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association vintage racing on the Barber Motorsports Park’s 2.38-mile track is a signature piece of the event, and the races here draw more riders than at any other vintage event, with racers vying for top honors in 42 different classes.

The Ace Corner returned, taking its now regular place inside Turns 14-17. A joint effort between Ace Café North America and Dime City Cycles, the Ace Corner draws a larger — and younger — crowd of classic bike fans every year. This is no small thing, as there were more 20-40 year olds attending the festival than ever before.

2/11/2016 10:49:05 AM

Britten no. F003 was the lone bike missing. It's owned by the government of New Zealand, and is on display in the Te Papa Tongarewa Museum in Wellington, NZ. Rumor has it that the bike was planned to be in attendance, but insurance policies and transportation timelines didn't work out.

2/11/2016 7:51:32 AM

I cannot be the only reader who wonders where the 10th Britten was which did not make it to this big event. Do you know the where and why of the missing 10th Britten? It was fun and interesting to read this article and see your pictures of these rare and shockingly successful racing bikes built by the genius engineer John Britten from New Zealand. The tragic loss of such a talented soul 20 years ago already, and after the proven superiority of his bike's design, continues to represent a great example of how one man with such drive and the help of his dedicated bike building crew can overcome so many obstacles, and finish on top.

Ride 'Em, Don't Hide 'Em Getaway

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