2016 Moto Alabama – 12th Annual Barber Vintage Motorcycle Festival

2016 marks the 12th Annual Barber Vintage Motorcycle Festival at Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Alabama.

The Barber Motorsports Park is home to an excellent road-racing track, as well as the annual vintage festival, which has become a very large and fun event, drawing many tens of thousands of people.

20161007_dsc08590sBarber is also home to the famous Barber Motorsports Museum, which is basically the greatest tribute to the history of motorcycling possible. Its the stuff of fantasies. People have told us for years that we need to go see it, and while we believed them, words just cannot do it justice. You need to go see this place!

After changing the front tire on Kevin’s bike in Birmingham in the morning, we arrived at the motorsports park sometime in the afternoon on Friday, the first official day of the three day festival.

It was somewhat difficult to get the obligatory “in front of the museum” photo amidst the large crowds at the vintage fest:


The Museum was amazing and a bit overwhelming. We spent over 9 hours on three separate days, and still didn’t see everything. I basically want to live there in a small apartment off to one side.

There are five floors, plus the basement, which is open to the public only during special events. There are other levels below that, not accessible to the public. The motorcycles are everywhere: displayed on the floors, walls, and hung from the ceiling. I even appreciated the homage to F-1 cars and a few other notable cars and other motorized vehicles, although the emphasis was definitely on the bikes. They claim everything in the museum runs.

We’ve read Jim Rogers’ book (Investment Biker) about traveling around the world by moto. These are the actual bikes ridden by him and his girlfirend:

A very early production motorcycle from 1894:

The display on board track racing was interesting. Board Track was popular in the United States during the 1910s and 1920s.   100 mph, no brakes, no clutch, no throttle! (speed was regulated with the kill switch! on (full throttle) or off!). Incredible.


A rare Britten:

Field engineering at our campsite:  (get it? he’s in a field?……yikes).

20161007_dsc08640s(The joys of self employment).

While the museum is a major draw, the vintage festival itself had plenty of attractions and events to keep people busy for an entire weekend.

Vintage Trials on Saturday morning:

The fan zone was more like a carnival atmosphere, with vendors, concessions, and various stunt riding shows.

The fan zone also had a vintage motorcycle Show, this one had an emphasis on old Ducatis – I particularly liked the bevel drive Ducati that had a window to see the bevel gears:

We hung around for two of the stunt riding shows – the Globe riders (riding inside a mesh steel sphere), and the wall of death (complete with 1920s era Indian motorcycle still being ridden): (There was a freestyle motocross show that we missed in order to try and catch what we could on Saturday).

The Swap meet held less interest for us, but was a major draw for the festival. If you are into old bikes, the parts you need are there. The swap meet area was enormous and very busy. Throughout the park, there were people carrying various pieces of old motorcycles around.

The bike below was parked outside the swap meet area, and we just happened to catch the owner. Its a (nice) home built electric bike, which of course Kevin loved.


Vintage Motocross racing on Sunday morning:

There was also quite a bit of on track vintage road racing with numerous classes, but I never really got close enough to get good photos.

Our Campsite in Tent Lot B:

20161009_dsc08712sOur neighbors were great, which makes camping in a crowd much easier.

The atmosphere was an unusual mix of race event, club meet, swap meet, and rally. Aside from the plethora of vintage motorcycles, we saw pretty much any motorcycle ever made, past or present, in attendance. A typical rally will generally focus on one subset of motorcycling, this event had ALL the bikes. There were tens of thousands of motorcycles all in one place. The sheer variety of hardware we witnessed was almost overwhelming, and sometime hilarious. Riding around the loop road around the track to the various event locations, you’d see everything from a modern Harley, to a 70’s 2-stroke scooter, to a racing sidecar, followed by a guy with pink mohawk riding a vintage road-racer, to whatever you could think of; it was there. I had fun just watching the traffic go by on the loop road, which was constantly busy. Three days of the crowds and the noise and the constant plumes of 2-stroke smoke was definitely enough. (So many 2-stroke motorcycles, I’ve never seen so many. ALL of my clothing smelled like 2-stroke exhaust).

Tried to get a photo of our bikes in front of the Museum.

20161009_dsc08856s Bye for now Barber, we had a fantastic time. This event was just so much fun. The museum and festival really are a moto enthusiasts dream. I can definitely see going again sometime.

After Barber, we decided to make a few more stops in Alabama before starting our ride back to NC.

This entry was posted in 2013 Husqvarna TR650 Strada, 2016 Barber Vintage Fest, Moto Ride Reports, Motorcycles. Bookmark the permalink.

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