A sweet Ducati 900SS in front of the Motorcycle Classics tent at last year’s Vintage Festival. Motorcycle Classics archives
We’re making final preparations for our annual pilgrimage to the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum near Birmingham, Alabama, and the 13th Annual Barber Vintage Festival, Oct. 6-8, 2017. The 2016 event had an estimated attendance of 73,000 bike fans, making this the largest vintage motorcycle event in North America.
The event’s almost explosive growth is easy to understand. To begin with, there’s the world famous Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, an amazing collection of 1,400-plus motorcycles spanning every decade of the industry from its humble beginnings more than 100 years ago to today, all housed in a spectacular, state-of-the-art, 144,000-square-foot building. And it just got bigger, thanks to a new five-story, 86,000-square-foot addition.
Then there’s everything else happening during the Barber Vintage Festival, including the American Motor Drome “Wall of Death” — a 15-foot-high wooden bowl that daredevil riders run on vintage Indian and Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Over at Turn 17 is the Ace Corner, an event within the event, packed with custom builds and cool café bikes — not to mention food and the only beer sold on site! — while on the other side of the park you’ll find the AMCA and VJMC shows. Motorcycle manufacturer KTM will host demo rides in Lot D, and new this year is a Ferris wheel that’s going to be set up in the Fan Zone, giving attendees a chance to take in the event from high in the sky. Oh, and did we forget to mention the regular motorcycle stunt shows and the Globe of Death?
Metal Rescue is back as the title sponsor of the annual swap meet, Mecca for owners looking for parts for their vintage bikes, whatever the make. There’s also the annual Century Parade, an exhibition race for motorcycles 100 years old or older, and AHRMA racers fill Barber’s famed 2.3-mile track the rest of the weekend as they compete in rounds 19 and 20 of the National Historic Cup Roadrace Series. Meanwhile, the surrounding fields and woods will showcase AHRMA vintage motocross, observed trials and cross country races.
We’ll be there as ever, hosting the 13th Annual Motorcycle Classics Vintage Bike Show, this year featuring the Norton Commando to celebrate 50 years since the model was first introduced at the 1967 Earls Court Show in London, England. We’ll award a trophy for the Best Norton Commando, plus trophies for Best Restored and Best Rider in five other categories. Barber restoration expert and former Norton employee Brian Slark will join us as this year’s special judge, and we’ll hold technical seminars throughout the weekend.
If you can make only one event this year, this is the one. For more info and event updates, go to barbermuseum.org — see you there!