7th Annual Vintage Festival

Barber Motorsports 048

The 7th Annual Vintage Festival is an event you just can’t miss if you are interested in motorcycles and/or racing. Barber Motorsports Park hosts the Vintage Festival and this year it runs from 7-9 October 2011 which is a beautiful time of the year to be outdoors enjoying high performance motorcycles jockey for the first place position so they can take the coveted checkered flag. Don’t be fooled though, there is not only vintage motorcycle racing during the festival but auctions and swap meets are part of the entire weekend.

The deals you can find are amazing and you just may find that one part you’ve been searching for to complete your latest restoration project. Additionally, vendor tents are ready and able to fulfil your desire for food, drinks, hats, t-shirts and other assorted souvenirs.

 

Within Barber Motorsports Park there is the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum which is a not to be missed benefit of attending the Motorsports Park and well worth the modest $15 admission charged. This 5 story tall, 141,000 square foot building is home to more than 1250 motorcycles spanning 100+ years. There are motorcycles from all over the world (20 countries) and 200 different manufacturers! Also, the museum boasts a 59-seat multimedia theater. In the basement, which is only open to the public three times a year (The Vintage Festival weekend is one of those times), is the restoration shop, machine shop, race shop, and buffing/polishing shop.

Barber Motorsports Park is conveniently located in Leeds, Alabama and getting there is easy. Just 15 minutes drive time from Downtown Birmingham and only 10 minutes from the Birmingham International Airport off of Highway 20 by the Bass Pro Store. From Huntsville it is an enjoyable 2 hour drive south on Highway 65 and then east on Highway 20. The race track consists of 16 challenging turns on the 2.38 mile long paved track.

Barber Motorsports Park is an impressive, highly professionally operated, motor vehicle race track. Safety is of utmost concern and their insistence on safety makes the event one the entire family can attend and enjoy. All access to the track is strictly controlled and monitored to ensure only authorized persons are on the track, in the paddock area, or on the pit row. Safety briefings are mandatory for people gaining access to areas where accidents could occur. Professionally constructed fencing and crash walls are strategically placed to protect drivers and spectators. Emergency response vehicles, to include a medical evacuation helicopter, and professional responders are available on-site to render immediate assistance should an accident occur. Not only is the track well maintained but also, the grounds are meticulously manicured with shrubs, hedges and flowers, making the entire experience that much more memorable.

Trams run daily and no fee is charged for riding them. These are extremely handy as you make your way around the spacious and scenic property. The trams stop at parking lots, concession stands, track viewing areas, and the paddock.

Some helpful pointers and inside information for you to use prior to coming to Barber Motorsports Park. Bring your camera, binoculars, lawn chairs or blankets, and an overhead cover/pop-up tent. They are all welcome and very handy at making your visit more enjoyable. Another item to consider bringing is a FM radio so you can tune into 106.3 FM and hear all the race annoucer’s commentary on the racing action.

Approximately 20 vintage motorcycles engaged the track at 8:00 AM and started getting accustomed to the twists and turns which make racing at Barber exciting to watch from a spectator’s perspective and pure adrenaline fun from a rider’s viewpoint. At 52 degrees F first thing Friday morning it was perfect for an outdoor event to begin. The sky was crystal clear and sunny with the temperature steadily rising to 82 degrees as the day progressed.

As I wandered around the paddock, talking with some of the race teams that had come to race, it quickly became apparent that the people attending were serious about racing motorcycles but not so serious that they didn’t have fun and couldn’t take time out to talk and share information.

Friday was a day for fine tuning the motorcycles. This doesn’t mean the riders were taking it easy, they were riding full out and the odd rider got to test out their leathers.

If this is any indication of the agressive racing that is to come this weekend, it should be a great show.

Later in the morning of the 7th the side cars came out to play. Seeing the passenger hanging out the side of the bike, with their bodies inches above the pavement while travelling at high rates of speed is sure to get your blood pumping, One slip or miscalculation and you get your road rash reward. Very exciting racing to watch and highly recommended you come out just to see this.   

 

Saturday, the 8th of October brought more fantastic weather. Racing started in ernest and during the lunch break everyone in attendance got to watch a spectacular aerobatic display by the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team flying four North American T-6 Texans. The precision formation aerobatics included loops, rolls, and featured downward bomb bursts using strategically placed pyrotechnics on the infield.

Not only is racing on the track an exciting event but also, there is the “Wall of Death”. The American Motor Drome Company’s “Wall of Death” is an extreme performance where daredevils riding Vintage Indian and antique Harley Davidson motorcycles on the inside of a verticle wall. The motorcycles travel up 15 feet above the ground to where you are observing just inches away on a high elevated platfom. You have to see it to believe it!

Motorcycle clubs had booths set up throughout the park. Moto Guzzi, The Antique Motorcycle Club of America, and The Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club were just a few of the clubs participating. The Ducati Ducstock was a popular display where Ducati fans could meet and discuss their favorite bikes and get information on the latest Ducati offerings.

Moto Retro Magazine had a booth with their latest copies. There were plenty of smiling faces at the parts swap area. Everything from motorcycle repair manuals, to parts, to complete bikes in a variety of stages of restoration were available for sale or trade.

 

 

 

Barber Motorsports Vintage Museum provided seminars in the Museum Theatre and in the basement level restoration area. Seminars were provided at no additional charge beyond the price of admission to the museum, what a great deal! The list of presenters included Don Hutchinson of Hutchinson Cycles (Wake Field, Massachusetts), John Healy the moderator for the Triumph Motorcycle forum at www.britbike.com, Leo Goff the engine development guru from Memphis Motor Werks (Memphis, TN), Steve Hall the Rolls Royce trained co-owner of The Panel Shop located in Stratford, CT, and Max Nightingale, one of the co-founders of Alpha Bearings. If you want to learn about motorcycles in addition to watching some great racing Barber is the place to be.

What’s that? You want to buy a bike at a great price? Well, the motorcycle auction may just be the place you have been searching for to locate that once in a lifetime deal. Auctions America set up shop at Barber Motorsports Park and was auctioning off motorcycles. All sorts of motorcycles. If you weren’t here you missed out. Remember this next year and be sure to attend the 8th Annual Vintage Festival and put a bid in on that dream bike you’ve always wanted or just a beginner bike for your son or daughter.

You just never know what you will see or what new friends you will make at Barber. One new innovative piece of motorcycling gear I got to learn about was a Helmet liner/Do-Rag from 2UpTouring (www.2UpTouring.com).  The new friend I got to meet was Anna, the creator of the Helmet Liner/Do-Rag. When you order one be sure to tell them Huntsville Explorer sent you.

You may be wondering why it is called a Park and not a racetrack. Well, the park has camping areas, walking trails, art sculptures, fountains, and majestic scenery which all add up to “Park” as far as I’m concerned. The camping areas are perfect for Recreational Vehicle (RV) and/or tent camping. Portable toilets are conveniently placed throughout the park and near camp sites. There are also showers available thereby eliminating that problem of trying to feel civilized while camping.

More to come as the weekend continues…..Pegasus

One comment to 7th Annual Vintage Festival

  • Samir  says:

    Great writeup! I bumped into Steven last night at Mickey’s and he told me about the site. 🙂

    I want to invite you to co-publish your car and bike enthusiast-related content on Huntsville Car Scene.com, with a link back to your original article here on hsvexplorer.net. Feel free to get in touch anytime if you’ve got any questions, 615-512-5520.

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