Master frame builder and former Isle of Man racer Colin Seeley with Randy Baxter’s circa-1973 Seeley-framed Triumph Trident.
The Barber Vintage Festival is always something of a pinch-me event. Did all that really happen? Did I really meet and talk to famed frame builder Colin Seeley? Did I really ride an absolutely perfect 1982 Triumph Bonneville Royal? Did I really hang out with former Ducati-riding 1977 Daytona Superbike winner Cook Neilson? Yeah, I did, and you might have too if you were at the 14th Annual Barber Vintage Festival.
We haven’t seen any official attendance numbers, but we’d expect 2018 attendance to be about even with the past few years, meaning roughly 60,000-plus vintage bike fans on hand. That number is actually even more impressive when you consider this year’s weather; insufferably hot and humid on Friday and Saturday, and with absolutely zero air movement. The only reason we survived was thanks to Alabama resident and friend of the magazine Howard Boone, who after Friday’s intense heat returned on Saturday morning with a generator, a huge shop fan and two stand up fans to push air through our tent. Wow. Talk about going above and beyond — you saved us, Howard!
The Rob Iannucchi/Team Obsolete ex-Dick Mann BSA Rocket 3.
The featured marque at Saturday’s Motorcycle Classics Vintage Bike Show was BSA/Triumph triples, and we were treated to a nice selection of bikes, including a pair of 1969 BSA Rocket 3s and a half-dozen Triumph Tridents, plus two very special machines: the Rob Iannucchi/Team Obsolete ex-Dick Mann BSA Rocket 3, a historically important machine recently restored to running condition by Iannucchi, and a Seeley-framed Triumph Trident owned by Randy Baxter of Baxter Cycle. Brian Slark of the Barber Museum and Mark Mederski of the National Motorcycle Museum helped judge the bikes, and Colin Seeley personally handed out our top award for Best Triumph/BSA Triple, which went to Baxter for his circa-1973 Seeley. One of no more than four built by Seeley himself, it’s possibly the only running survivor. And run it did, as Randy Baxter proved, firing it up with a push-start to the thrill of everyone there. The sound it makes is glorious, a sound I’d planned on sharing here — and would have if I’d actually hit “record” when I set my phone to video mode.
Volunteers giving Randy Baxter a push to fire up his Seeley-Triumph; what a glorious noise.
Frank Lipinski took our Editors’ Choice award for his immaculate and completely original 1982 Triumph T140LE Royal. Showing 8,000-plus miles on the clock, Frank’s Royal looked new, but like every bike in our show it was a perfect runner. That brings up an interesting point, namely that of the 52 bikes that graced our lawn, every single one — save the Dick Mann bike, which was understandably trailered in, and Rick Booth’s unpowered art bike Aqua Naught — rode in under its own power. That includes the three Zündapps — three! — that were on hand.
Frank Lipinski took our Editors’ Choice award for his perfect 1982 Triumph T140LE Royal.
Better still, around 30 of those bikes joined us the next day for our Sunday Morning Ride. Sponsored by our good friends at Hagerty Motorcycle Insurance, the ride was a casual 35-mile run through the surrounding hills, taking in a section of SR 25 known locally as the mini Tail of the Dragon. OK, so it has only a fraction of the real Tail of the Dragon’s turns, but it’s still a fantastic bit of black top, snaking up and over several ridges through the Alabama wood and just ripe for riding. Check out this short video from Hagerty showing our group saddling up and heading out for the ride.
Richard Campbell’s immaculate 1940 Zündapp KS600, one of three Zündapps on hand.
Great bikes, an amazing location, and of course great people. If you weren’t there, you missed it again — so don’t miss it in 2019! Look for more photos of the 14th Annual Barber Vintage Festival in the January/February 2019 issue of Motorcycle Classics. — Richard Backus
Heading out for the 2018 Sunday Morning Ride.