Growing up a motorcycle enthusiast in the midwest, I have been spoiled by everything from the flat track racing and swap meet at Wauseon to the Superbike weekend and AMA Vintage Days at Mid-Ohio. But this year I finally had the opportunity to make the trek to Birmingham, Ala. to visit the 10th annual Barber Vintage Festival that was held Oct. 10-12.
If you are a vintage motorcycle fan, this is your Graceland. Not only does the Barber Museum offer the largest collection of Lotus race cars in the world, but it has an amazing collection of more than 1,200 vintage motorcycles from every manufacturer dating back as far as 1902!
The moment you walk through the doors it’s obvious this was a well-planned endeavor. There are very few velvet ropes, and the exhibits are displayed so you can get up close enough to almost smell the history. Mike Hailwood’s Ducati and Giacomo Agostini’s MV Agusta were practically hiding in plain sight among the priceless selection of fully restored vintage marvels, prototypes and history making machines.
The Barber Vintage Festival could easily be spread out over a full week. There’s so much to take in over a long weekend. On Barber’s 740 acres, there’s vintage road racing, trials and cross country racing, the cleanest and best organized swap meet area I’ve ever visited, and an endless
array of exhibits, clinics and industry related vendors from dealers to manufacturers, which truly makes the event live up to it’s festival name.
While most people will never see a Vincent Black Shadow or a pre-war Indian Chief on the road, on this particular weekend it’s not uncommon to see a line of these highly collectable, perfectly tuned, antique motorcycles cruising around the grounds at Barber.
There have always been stories passed around highlighting the sites to be seen at Barber by those fortunate enough to have made the trip, so I must admit I took great pleasure in finally being able to understand the hype firsthand.