BUCKET LIST: Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum
By Brett Murray
Thursday 30th April, 2020 - 4:00pm
With the motorsport world on hold and travel bans in place for Australia, you might be forgiven for contemplating a future escape.
Speedcafe.com has worked to develop a list of dream places, events and experiences for fans of motorsport and motoring for you to tick off your Bucket List.
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, Birmingham, Alabama
It is somewhat ironic that the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham, Alabama started life as a car collection, but evolved into the world’s largest motorcycle collection.
It is actually recognised by Guinness World Records with more than 1600 motorcycles spanning over 100 years of production, the Barber collection represents 200 different manufacturers from 20 countries.
While two-wheel machines became the focus, the collection also includes a large list of Lotus race cars and other vehicles of significant interest.
Included in the car collection is Dan Gurney’s Lotus 29 which was the manufacturer’s first entry in the Indy 500 and a Ferrari 158 driven by John Surtees during his victorious 1964 Formula 1 World Championship campaign.
Local business guru George Barber raced Porsches successfully in the 1960s before business took up more of his time.
He rediscovered his passion in the late 1980s and his commitment grew to include the museum and the Barber Motorsports Park complex which is located 20 minutes east of Birmingham.
The facility hosts many major motorsport events year on year including their now-famous vintage festival in October.
The park is set on 880 acres (360ha) and includes an FIA Grade Two circuit which has hosted a round of the IndyCar Series since 2010 and which is also home to a Porsche Track Experience.
The infield of the track has a number of large sculptures, including a series of large steel spiders and dragonflies created by artist Bill Secunda, a pair of lions, and a Sisyphean figure pushing a boulder.
The Turns 5/6 complex is referred to as Charlotte’s Web because of the presence of a large spider sculpture prominently placed in the infield near the turn and because it is one of the track’s prime passing opportunities.
The 230,000 square-foot museum is the centrepiece of the park and attracts more than 250,000 visitors each year.
While Barber had a few historic race cars, the first bikes in the collection were acquired in 1988.
The home-grown Harley-Davidson is a favourite of the 200 manufacturers represented in the collection and there are almost 100 examples on display.
Amazingly, 99 percent of the bikes in the museum can be started within an hour and every bike has been restored to its original specifications where possible.
Some bikes are purchased already restored while others are brought back to life on site in the museum’s extensive restoration level.
While there are more than 1600 bikes in the collection, about 900 are on display at any one time with the remainder on the restoration level which can be viewed with a Premium Museum Tour ticket.
The museum folk will tell you that there have been more than 2500 bike manufacturers around the world since 1900.
The Barber collection has samples from 216 manufacturers from 20 countries and bikes have been purchased from as far away as Australia, New Zealand and Sweden.
The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum Research Library and Archives began in 1997 as a research tool to aid in the creation and restoration of the motorcycle and car collection.
The library has since grown to contain one of the largest collections of motorcycle literature in the world, with more than 10,000 books.
The library also includes back issues of more than 380 motorcycle and car magazine titles, parts catalogues, auction catalogues, service manuals, photographs and more than 900 video titles.
It is fair to say that if you are a motorcycle enthusiast then you might want to be booking one of the local motels so you can enjoy a couple of days at this place.
|Address||6030 Barber Motorsports Pkwy Birmingham, AL 35094|
|How to get there||Birmingham Vintage Motorsports Museum located 20 minutes East of downtown Birmingham, Alabama, via the I-20 East. The outlets of Grand River and a Bass Pro Shop are conveniently located at the 1-20E exit to Rex Lake Road.|
|Opening hours, tickets||April 1- September 30 – Monday – Saturday: 10am – 6pmSunday: Noon – 6pm
October 1 – March 30 – Monday – Saturday: 10am – 5pm
Sunday: Noon – 5pm
Adults: $15 +applicable taxes
Children ages 4–12: $10 +applicable taxes
Children 3 and under: FREE
Closed New Year’s Day, Easter, July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. If you plan to travel to the museum during other holidays such as Memorial Day or Labor Day, please call to confirm museum hours.
|Special openings||Premium Museum Tours can be added to your admission for $15 +applicable taxes. This includes a docent-led museum tour and a visit to the Restoration Level. Premium tours are offered Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30 am and Sunday at 1:00 pm. Tours are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Arrive early to reserve your spot.|
|Phone||+1 (205) 699-7275|
|Gift shop||There is an extensive gift and souvenir job in the foyer of the museum.|
|Additional tip||If you choose to visit during a major event weekend, you will need to purchase an event ticket to access the park, along with regular admission to the Barber Museum. Please go to www.barberracingevents.com for schedule.|