Motorcycles

Nine reasons why the Barber Vintage Festival is the one motorcycle event you cannot say 'no' to

Nine reasons why the Barber Vi...
There's something for everyone at the Barber Vintage Festival
There's something for everyone at the Barber Vintage Festival
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Barber Motorsports Museum -five floors of gearhead nirvana
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Barber Motorsports Museum -five floors of gearhead nirvana
Britten motorcycles on display at the Friday night charity dinner -ninety percent of the total production run was in this room that night
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Britten motorcycles on display at the Friday night charity dinner -ninety percent of the total production run was in this room that night
Room of dreams: Racks and rows of motorcycles stored as spares and future projects. It's heaven's waiting room as well, since many of these machines will find themselves in the new museum rooms opening next October.
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Room of dreams: Racks and rows of motorcycles stored as spares and future projects. It's heaven's waiting room as well, since many of these machines will find themselves in the new museum rooms opening next October.
"Deja Blue"- an exact replica of the famous Ducati 750 SuperSport 1977 Daytona winner "Old Blue" is displayed in the museum along with rider Cook Neilson's leathers and helmets
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"Deja Blue"- an exact replica of the famous Ducati 750 SuperSport 1977 Daytona winner "Old Blue" is displayed in the museum along with rider Cook Neilson's leathers and helmets
BMW custom by Xcrambler on display in Ace Corner
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BMW custom by Xcrambler on display in Ace Corner
Triumph custom in Dime City-Ace Corner bike show
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Triumph custom in Dime City-Ace Corner bike show
A famous Norton Commando, entered in the Dime City-Ace Corner bike show
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A famous Norton Commando, entered in the Dime City-Ace Corner bike show
Where else can you see a parade of 100 year old machines running around a race track?
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Where else can you see a parade of 100 year old machines running around a race track?
Britten #001 is still owned by the family. Lots of unique details on this one.
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Britten #001 is still owned by the family. Lots of unique details on this one.
Only open to the public during a few weekends a year, this room of stored bikes is largely made up of machines donated to the museum. The shelves are five high!
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Only open to the public during a few weekends a year, this room of stored bikes is largely made up of machines donated to the museum. The shelves are five high!
Another look at the storage racks. Once the museum opens it's expansion, expected to debut at next years Barber Vintage Festival many of these will be on display.
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Another look at the storage racks. Once the museum opens it's expansion, expected to debut at next years Barber Vintage Festival many of these will be on display.
It may cost extra to get into this Ace Corner area but the music and cold beer help sting the blow of the added expense and plenty joined the private party. Great spot to view races, too.
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It may cost extra to get into this Ace Corner area but the music and cold beer help sting the blow of the added expense and plenty joined the private party. Great spot to view races, too.
Kawasaki KZ 1000 for sale in the swap meet area
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Kawasaki KZ 1000 for sale in the swap meet area
This was a tribute to Cook Neilson and his Daytona win for sale in the Ace Corner area
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This was a tribute to Cook Neilson and his Daytona win for sale in the Ace Corner area
This Harley Davidson "Century Bike" made it to the parade lap by first competing in the cross country Cannonball Rally
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This Harley Davidson "Century Bike" made it to the parade lap by first competing in the cross country Cannonball Rally
Cannonball Rally bikes lined up for the lunchtime parade laps that fill the mid day racing down time
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Cannonball Rally bikes lined up for the lunchtime parade laps that fill the mid day racing down time
Vintage Indian Cannonballer - it always feels good to cross the finish line
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Vintage Indian Cannonballer - it always feels good to cross the finish line
Eric Bahl has done the Cannonball several times. This is his 1915 HD at the Barber Vintage Festival.
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Eric Bahl has done the Cannonball several times. This is his 1915 HD at the Barber Vintage Festival.
The highlight of each day was surely the Britten's on track
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The highlight of each day was surely the Britten's on track
Kirsteen Britten takes to the track with George Barber at the wheel of his Porsche 505 Spyder
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Kirsteen Britten takes to the track with George Barber at the wheel of his Porsche 505 Spyder
Custom Indian Scout built by Analog Motorcycles
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Custom Indian Scout built by Analog Motorcycles
Classic Italians - A Laverda and Moto Guzzi in the bike show in the Fan Zone
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Classic Italians - A Laverda and Moto Guzzi in the bike show in the Fan Zone
Century bikes on display in the AHRMA racing paddock. One of the greatest things about this weekend is the remarkable amount of access the fans have to the machines in the paddock area.
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Century bikes on display in the AHRMA racing paddock. One of the greatest things about this weekend is the remarkable amount of access the fans have to the machines in the paddock area.
A 1932 Jawa Speedway built in Czechoslovakia appearred in the AMCA show
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A 1932 Jawa Speedway built in Czechoslovakia appearred in the AMCA show
1950 Vincent Rapide in the bike show - a slighter cheaper way in to the rare air of Vincent collecting, this stunning machine is the entry version of the storied Black Shadow
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1950 Vincent Rapide in the bike show - a slighter cheaper way in to the rare air of Vincent collecting, this stunning machine is the entry version of the storied Black Shadow
Vintage Moto Guzzi Falcone Turismo 500 single
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Vintage Moto Guzzi Falcone Turismo 500 single
A magazine in the Midway has its own show on Saturday. This year the featured marque was the Norton.
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A magazine in the Midway has its own show on Saturday. This year the featured marque was the Norton.
Dunstall Norton on display. Dunstall was a popular builder of speed equipment and bodywork. In it's day this was the rig to have.
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Dunstall Norton on display. Dunstall was a popular builder of speed equipment and bodywork. In it's day this was the rig to have.
Art in the fan zone - "Motorcycle on pole"
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Art in the fan zone - "Motorcycle on pole"
1942 Harley Davidson XA in the swap meet. The small print say's "Hasn't seen light of day since 1972" - it was later sold.
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1942 Harley Davidson XA in the swap meet. The small print say's "Hasn't seen light of day since 1972" - it was later sold.
Vintage 1957 BSA Goldstar for sale in the swap meet. It's clear some of this old metal is now real money in the bank. $45,000 will take this one home.
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Vintage 1957 BSA Goldstar for sale in the swap meet. It's clear some of this old metal is now real money in the bank. $45,000 will take this one home.
This "Ducati" for sale in the swap meet started life as a Cagiva Alizzura 650 SS. We would call this a Resto-Mod these days.
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This "Ducati" for sale in the swap meet started life as a Cagiva Alizzura 650 SS. We would call this a Resto-Mod these days.
One of the things you can expect to see here, due to the strength of the vintage Japanese motorcycle club is numerous rare and beautiful old Honda's like this 300 Dream. It is actually a "fusion" bike where one was made to mimic another.
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One of the things you can expect to see here, due to the strength of the vintage Japanese motorcycle club is numerous rare and beautiful old Honda's like this 300 Dream. It is actually a "fusion" bike where one was made to mimic another.
Beautiful Honda CB-92 Benly series in the VJMC bike show. This was Honda's first "sport bike".
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Beautiful Honda CB-92 Benly series in the VJMC bike show. This was Honda's first "sport bike".
Also spotted parked out front of the museum, this rare vintage Nimbus belongs to Bryan Fuller
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Also spotted parked out front of the museum, this rare vintage Nimbus belongs to Bryan Fuller
One of the highlights of the AHRMA races is the side car races. This one seems to have broken out of the paddock for a visit to the museum.
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One of the highlights of the AHRMA races is the side car races. This one seems to have broken out of the paddock for a visit to the museum.
It's an ever changing ride in and out bike show in front of the museum all three days. This Ducati 250 Scrambler customized by well known TV car and bike builder Bryan Fuller, is resting for a moment in between rides in front of the museum.It was also ridden to the show from Atlanta.
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It's an ever changing ride in and out bike show in front of the museum all three days. This Ducati 250 Scrambler customized by well known TV car and bike builder Bryan Fuller, is resting for a moment in between rides in front of the museum.It was also ridden to the show from Atlanta.
Dual Triumph motors made this 1953 dragster Dubble Trubble famous. It was the 1st one.
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Dual Triumph motors made this 1953 dragster Dubble Trubble famous. It was the 1st one.
BMW with side car taking a break, in the AHRMA paddock
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BMW with side car taking a break, in the AHRMA paddock
Pair of British Matchless singles in the swap meet - the red G-85 was one of 102
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Pair of British Matchless singles in the swap meet - the red G-85 was one of 102
What one might find for sale in the swap meet really runs the gamut from pristine to scruffy - this respectable example of a Ducati 750 Sport was at the upper end of the spectrum
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What one might find for sale in the swap meet really runs the gamut from pristine to scruffy - this respectable example of a Ducati 750 Sport was at the upper end of the spectrum
A Ducati 888 SPO in the AHRMA paddock being passed by one of the dozens of CT 70 Honda's that circle the facility all weekend long
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A Ducati 888 SPO in the AHRMA paddock being passed by one of the dozens of CT 70 Honda's that circle the facility all weekend long
Stunning 1946 Triumph 5T Speed Twin among the t-shirts
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Stunning 1946 Triumph 5T Speed Twin among the t-shirts
It's not always for sale just because it's parked in the swap meet. This lovely old Moto Guzzi 850 Eldorado made a pretty good way to get like minded people to check out your booth. This weekend is a big social scene and the swap meet is at the center of the hub.
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It's not always for sale just because it's parked in the swap meet. This lovely old Moto Guzzi 850 Eldorado made a pretty good way to get like minded people to check out your booth. This weekend is a big social scene and the swap meet is at the center of the hub.
Super clean Honda CL-350 Scrambler in the swap meet
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Super clean Honda CL-350 Scrambler in the swap meet
This Ducati Darmah would make a great project bike and unlike some of the other vintage Ducati models, the Darmah's are still undervalued. They are becoming increasingly popular because of their "electric leg".
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This Ducati Darmah would make a great project bike and unlike some of the other vintage Ducati models, the Darmah's are still undervalued. They are becoming increasingly popular because of their "electric leg".
Meguro became Kawasaki - this bike is rare, rare, rare!
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Meguro became Kawasaki - this bike is rare, rare, rare!
Close up of the Meguro tank logo
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Close up of the Meguro tank logo
Classic British "Cammy" Velocette in the swap meet
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Classic British "Cammy" Velocette in the swap meet
BSA Bantam 2 stroke in the swap meet -every schoolboy's dream
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BSA Bantam 2 stroke in the swap meet -every schoolboy's dream
Italian Delorto carburetors were used on a lot of different models (including some BMW's) and these days the prices are going up and up ... they were favored by many tuners
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Italian Delorto carburetors were used on a lot of different models (including some BMW's) and these days the prices are going up and up ... they were favored by many tuners
Vespa Purse or Murse, depending on who buys it!
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Vespa Purse or Murse, depending on who buys it!
Ned a license plate for a restoration project? This vendor's got you covered. MC plates have become vary colectible.
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Ned a license plate for a restoration project? This vendor's got you covered. MC plates have become vary colectible.
There is no better way to spend an afternoon with your daughter than riding around Barber Vintage Festival in a rig like this "shopping"
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There is no better way to spend an afternoon with your daughter than riding around Barber Vintage Festival in a rig like this "shopping"
There's something for everyone at the Barber Vintage Festival
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There's something for everyone at the Barber Vintage Festival
The AMAPro Flat track display was a little race museum, complete with videos of last season's (insanely competitive) racing, free snacks and cold drinks
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The AMAPro Flat track display was a little race museum, complete with videos of last season's (insanely competitive) racing, free snacks and cold drinks
Friday night's always popular museum fund raising dinner. This year (because it was Britten) they had to turn people away it sold out so early.
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Friday night's always popular museum fund raising dinner. This year (because it was Britten) they had to turn people away it sold out so early.
Even John Britten himself never saw them all together this way
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Even John Britten himself never saw them all together this way
Front wheel of the Britten Streamliner
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Front wheel of the Britten Streamliner
Britten Streamliner, pilots view from inside the cockpit
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Britten Streamliner, pilots view from inside the cockpit
Britten Streamliner - rear view. That's the frame that holds the rear bodywork. The details worth studying (like all the other 8 Britten's) were unique and beautiful.
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Britten Streamliner - rear view. That's the frame that holds the rear bodywork. The details worth studying (like all the other 8 Britten's) were unique and beautiful.
After dinner the patrons were invited into the spotless Barber basement workshop to get a close up look at all nine bikes
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After dinner the patrons were invited into the spotless Barber basement workshop to get a close up look at all nine bikes
Each Britten was displayed with it's owners name and production number
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Each Britten was displayed with it's owners name and production number
As well as a rose on the tank for the missing man, John Britten
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As well as a rose on the tank for the missing man, John Britten
This is bike #001 - the design details on this one were especially unique
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This is bike #001 - the design details on this one were especially unique
Bike #001 still belongs to the Britten family. The only bike that wasn't there is in a museum in New Zealand. It belongs to the people of New Zealand and is considered a national treasure.
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Bike #001 still belongs to the Britten family. The only bike that wasn't there is in a museum in New Zealand. It belongs to the people of New Zealand and is considered a national treasure.
The list of things John Britten designed is staggering, this is one of his engines
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The list of things John Britten designed is staggering, this is one of his engines
Kirsteen Britten gave a talk about John, some of the things he did and even a couple of stories about the tribulations of living with an eccentric genius (i.e. he sunk the family boat twice). She is a really fine public speaker, and absolutely charming in person.
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Kirsteen Britten gave a talk about John, some of the things he did and even a couple of stories about the tribulations of living with an eccentric genius (i.e. he sunk the family boat twice). She is a really fine public speaker, and absolutely charming in person.
All the owners were given special Vanson leather jackets numbered to match their Brittens
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All the owners were given special Vanson leather jackets numbered to match their Brittens
George Barber shows off his new Britten jacket
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George Barber shows off his new Britten jacket
The Britten owners lineup with Jeff Ray, Barber Museum CEO in the rear
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The Britten owners lineup with Jeff Ray, Barber Museum CEO in the rear
Friday night cocktail reception on the brand new "glass bridge" outside the museum over the race track
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Friday night cocktail reception on the brand new "glass bridge" outside the museum over the race track
Setting up for dinner in the museum basement as seen from the skywalk above
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Setting up for dinner in the museum basement as seen from the skywalk above
Heading into the museum at dusk for the Britten dinner. The park stays open all night so the party never really stops until Sunday afternoon.
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Heading into the museum at dusk for the Britten dinner. The park stays open all night so the party never really stops until Sunday afternoon.
Motorcycle brands, styles, sizes and ages - at Barber's unlike any other motorcycle event in the world there is absolute diversity. This is truly the motorcycle weekend that represents all just as well as none in particular. Ticket sales came from 49 states. Attendees ride street, track and dirt In a sport that tends to stick to its own, this weekend blurs all the lines.
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Motorcycle brands, styles, sizes and ages - at Barber's unlike any other motorcycle event in the world there is absolute diversity. This is truly the motorcycle weekend that represents all just as well as none in particular. Ticket sales came from 49 states. Attendees ride street, track and dirt In a sport that tends to stick to its own, this weekend blurs all the lines.
Loading in the precious metal for the dinner
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Loading in the precious metal for the dinner
Brittens in the museum basement
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Brittens in the museum basement
Britten F-001 under the shadow of the new glass bridge
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Britten F-001 under the shadow of the new glass bridge
Calm basement garage before the party
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Calm basement garage before the party
The Chase by Ted Gall. Metal sculptures, each one is 45' tall and weighs between 3500 - 3800 pounds
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The Chase by Ted Gall. Metal sculptures, each one is 45' tall and weighs between 3500 - 3800 pounds
Somethings been added to that Meguro Kawasaki, a sold sign
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Somethings been added to that Meguro Kawasaki, a sold sign
Childs "dime store" sidewalk ride in the swap meet
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Childs "dime store" sidewalk ride in the swap meet
Looking for a little extra attention for your product? Pull it out and let the sun hit on it, this shiny red Honda 400 Four Super Sport seems to be stopping people in their tracks.
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Looking for a little extra attention for your product? Pull it out and let the sun hit on it, this shiny red Honda 400 Four Super Sport seems to be stopping people in their tracks.
Wagon of treasures! This swap meet shopper appears to have had an epic day.
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Wagon of treasures! This swap meet shopper appears to have had an epic day.
Honda RC-04 replica in the swap meet
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Honda RC-04 replica in the swap meet
1954 Meyer -German 2 speed trike. That sign on the seat say's "Be Unique!!! Where you gonna find another one?" $5500 would have taken it home but it did win the pickers contest, earning it's owner a free spot in next years swap meet.
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1954 Meyer -German 2 speed trike. That sign on the seat say's "Be Unique!!! Where you gonna find another one?" $5500 would have taken it home but it did win the pickers contest, earning it's owner a free spot in next years swap meet.
Judging the Picker's contest - that's a Moto Guzzi police bike the judges are looking over
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Judging the Picker's contest - that's a Moto Guzzi police bike the judges are looking over
When you bring a vintage Douglas to the swap meet, it just seems right to bring an Oriental rug for it to rest it's rubber on
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When you bring a vintage Douglas to the swap meet, it just seems right to bring an Oriental rug for it to rest it's rubber on
Custom builds in the fan zone
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Custom builds in the fan zone
That lovely Ducati custom started life as a 900 Super Sport, a bike gaining popularity with custom builders almost as fast as old Honda's used to be
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That lovely Ducati custom started life as a 900 Super Sport, a bike gaining popularity with custom builders almost as fast as old Honda's used to be
Three time world SBK champion Troy Bayliss raced this in AMAPro flat track this year. This is it's last stop before it heads to it's next home in a museum.
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Three time world SBK champion Troy Bayliss raced this in AMAPro flat track this year. This is it's last stop before it heads to it's next home in a museum.
Vintage Honda cub motor on display in the swap meet
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Vintage Honda cub motor on display in the swap meet
Ossa dirt bike for sale in the swap meet
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Ossa dirt bike for sale in the swap meet
Need a couple lifetimes worth of Moto Guzzi parts? Here you go! (brown tarp included).
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Need a couple lifetimes worth of Moto Guzzi parts? Here you go! (brown tarp included).
How about a genuine Easy Rider style chopper advertising the mesculin lifestyle for only $9995?
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How about a genuine Easy Rider style chopper advertising the mesculin lifestyle for only $9995?
Ducati ST4S - the for sale sign says "Owner too old" (old maybe, but not stupid, that's a full on Ducati superbike motor standard equipment in that tourer and it's flies)
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Ducati ST4S - the for sale sign says "Owner too old" (old maybe, but not stupid, that's a full on Ducati superbike motor standard equipment in that tourer and it's flies)
AHRMA racer heading into Charlottes Web
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AHRMA racer heading into Charlottes Web
Man Holding Motorcycle Sculpture on the park grounds
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Man Holding Motorcycle Sculpture on the park grounds
It's a ride in and out motorcycle show all weekend long here at the museum
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It's a ride in and out motorcycle show all weekend long here at the museum
Checking out the details on the Fuller "Dirty Duc"
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Checking out the details on the Fuller "Dirty Duc"
This is either a super sweet Ducati 900SS or it's a starter kit for a custom build. These days it could go either way.
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This is either a super sweet Ducati 900SS or it's a starter kit for a custom build. These days it could go either way.
TV show host and well known custom builder Bryan Fuller heads into the Barber Museum
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TV show host and well known custom builder Bryan Fuller heads into the Barber Museum
Watching the races from Ace Corner
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Watching the races from Ace Corner
Vintage BMW R-32 motor close up
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Vintage BMW R-32 motor close up
Vintage BMW in the AMCA area
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Vintage BMW in the AMCA area
Manx Norton's are iconic and valuable, they make them still in replica kits which cost more than the originals
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Manx Norton's are iconic and valuable, they make them still in replica kits which cost more than the originals
BMW R-17 with period sidecar
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BMW R-17 with period sidecar
A custom Honda build for sale in the Ace Corner section
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A custom Honda build for sale in the Ace Corner section
Lucky builder, looks like both George Barber AND Cook Neilson wandered by with sharpies and a little extra time during the weekend
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Lucky builder, looks like both George Barber AND Cook Neilson wandered by with sharpies and a little extra time during the weekend
BMW R-32. The R-32 was its 1st motorcycle.
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BMW R-32. The R-32 was its 1st motorcycle.
This artist paints with chopsticks. His work was for sale in the swap meet
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This artist paints with chopsticks. His work was for sale in the swap meet
AHRMA Ducati superbike racer
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AHRMA Ducati superbike racer
That's the "Globe of Death". Three riders traveling up to 60mph in a small sphere.
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That's the "Globe of Death". Three riders traveling up to 60mph in a small sphere.
The "Wall of Death" emulates vintage board track racing
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The "Wall of Death" emulates vintage board track racing
Another Bryan Fuller custom creation in the fan zone
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Another Bryan Fuller custom creation in the fan zone
Just because AHRMA is amatuer racing doesn't mean it's cheap to do it - one look at this line of carbon coated horsepower and you can see the faster classes are hotly contested
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Just because AHRMA is amatuer racing doesn't mean it's cheap to do it - one look at this line of carbon coated horsepower and you can see the faster classes are hotly contested
Jim Dillard III on his vintage Aermacchi leaving the track with a grin
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Jim Dillard III on his vintage Aermacchi leaving the track with a grin
Ducati superbikes waiting their turn
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Ducati superbikes waiting their turn
Jim Dillard III of Richmond VA heads on to the front straight on his 200GP class Italian Harley Davidson Aermacchi
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Jim Dillard III of Richmond VA heads on to the front straight on his 200GP class Italian Harley Davidson Aermacchi
Ducati AHRMA Sport Classic racers
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Ducati AHRMA Sport Classic racers
Here the grids are as full as they can be - everybody wants to ride Barbers
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Here the grids are as full as they can be - everybody wants to ride Barbers
Lining up to race
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Lining up to race
Chris Jensen of Fords, NJ on his Ducati 749 racebike heads onto the front straight
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Chris Jensen of Fords, NJ on his Ducati 749 racebike heads onto the front straight
Fan access is incredible at Barbers, pay one $60 weekend fee (that's $20 day) and you can get right up to this million dollar racebike for a close look
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Fan access is incredible at Barbers, pay one $60 weekend fee (that's $20 day) and you can get right up to this million dollar racebike for a close look
Drag racer Chris Hand starts this nitro fueled drag bike a few times a day. It's an ear splitting wonder, he brings it just for display every year
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Drag racer Chris Hand starts this nitro fueled drag bike a few times a day. It's an ear splitting wonder, he brings it just for display every year
Former Superbike racer (and now accomplished author) Paul Ritter selling his book in the AHRMA paddock
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Former Superbike racer (and now accomplished author) Paul Ritter selling his book in the AHRMA paddock
888 SPO in the AHRMA paddock
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888 SPO in the AHRMA paddock
Someone forgot the for sale tags
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Someone forgot the for sale tags
Racing past the giant spider in the track center
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Racing past the giant spider in the track center
Big grids make for tight racing and the spectators love it
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Big grids make for tight racing and the spectators love it
Some guys don't even bother to unpack the trailer - just pull it in a spot, stick signs on the tanks and hope for the best
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Some guys don't even bother to unpack the trailer - just pull it in a spot, stick signs on the tanks and hope for the best
Camping is popular here and even the swap meet provides a great setting for sleeping under the stars here
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Camping is popular here and even the swap meet provides a great setting for sleeping under the stars here
The missing man, John Britten was on everybody's mind all weekend. Gone too soon.
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The missing man, John Britten was on everybody's mind all weekend. Gone too soon.
Ducati 860 in Hailwood livery
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Ducati 860 in Hailwood livery
George Barber, the man who makes it all possible and his personal Britten
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George Barber, the man who makes it all possible and his personal Britten
Britten spares on display
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Britten spares on display
Vintage Honda CL77 on display
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Vintage Honda CL77 on display
Britten motor closeup
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Britten motor closeup
Vintage Honda Dream tank close up
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Vintage Honda Dream tank close up
F-001 in front of the painting that the weekend poster was made from. The original painting will be auctioned off later in the evening to raise money for the museum.
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F-001 in front of the painting that the weekend poster was made from. The original painting will be auctioned off later in the evening to raise money for the museum.
Vintage Honda Dream
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Vintage Honda Dream
Three Honda CX 650's posing in the swap meet
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Three Honda CX 650's posing in the swap meet
Here's a better look at the painting for the event poster
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Here's a better look at the painting for the event poster
Clutch side of the Britten display motor
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Clutch side of the Britten display motor
Barber Museum restoration specialist (and lucky guy with his name on the Britten) Chuck Huneycutt finishing his time on track
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Barber Museum restoration specialist (and lucky guy with his name on the Britten) Chuck Huneycutt finishing his time on track
Another crazy swap meet find - 1940's powerbike
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Another crazy swap meet find - 1940's powerbike
Andrew Stroud, who was one of the few people that actually raced for John Britten, leaving the track
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Andrew Stroud, who was one of the few people that actually raced for John Britten, leaving the track
Ants sculpture behind the museum
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Ants sculpture behind the museum
Barber Vintage Festival
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Barber Vintage Festival
Vincent Grey Flash replica AHRMA racer
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Vincent Grey Flash replica AHRMA racer
Five Brittens on track, incredible.
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Five Brittens on track, incredible.
Yamaha custom AHRMA racer
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Yamaha custom AHRMA racer
Harley Davidson KR display in the upper paddock
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Harley Davidson KR display in the upper paddock
Brittens heading under the new glass bridge
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Brittens heading under the new glass bridge
All weekend long, Brittens doing wheelies (and stoppies) was kind of a common sight - really
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All weekend long, Brittens doing wheelies (and stoppies) was kind of a common sight - really
Waiting for the rest of the pack
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Waiting for the rest of the pack
What happens when you are gridded next to a 2 stroke. Hold your breath!
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What happens when you are gridded next to a 2 stroke. Hold your breath!
The AHRMA paddock
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The AHRMA paddock
Britten tank close up
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Britten tank close up
Barber Museum - it's like no place else on the planet
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Barber Museum - it's like no place else on the planet

Every October there’s a three day party in Birmingham, Alabama, for motorcyclists of all persuasions. Unlike most brand-specific get togethers, this event honors one and all, from the beginnings of motorcycling history to the wonderous two-wheeled technology of today. The event is kid-friendly, exceptionally well organized, incredibly welcoming and spotlessly clean.

It’s called the Barber Vintage Festival and it’s unlike any other event in the world.

Here are the nine reasons why the Barber Vintage Festival is the one motorcycle happening you cannot say no to.

Britten the featured marque in 2015

Even John Britten himself never saw them all together this way
Even John Britten himself never saw them all together this way

Every year Barber Vintage Festival picks a theme to expand upon, and as this year is the 20th anniversary of the passing of legendary New Zealand motorcycle designer John Britten, it presented the perfect opportunity to host a tribute to his work.

Nine of the 10 existing Britten motorcycles were on hand, including the famed "Streamliner," as was the Britten family. To a Britten enthusiast, getting eyes-on just once in a lifetime might have to do, so to see them running in a pack on the track, racing in AHRMA and all displayed together in the Barber Museum was such a rare sight – even John Britten himself never got to see it.

The tale of John Britten is a fairytale equally enchanting as that of fellow-Kiwi Burt Monro, who gained international acclaim for his home-grown innovation thanks to the movie The World's Fastest Indian.

Each Britten was displayed with it's owners name and production number
Each Britten was displayed with it's owners name and production number

Britten was another motorcycle innovator from New Zealand, who put a whole new spin on "homebuilt" motorcycles. Built from the ground up, each of his V-twin motorcycles was a spectacular vision of "outside-the-box" thinking and captured the imagination of the world. In the early 90’s he brought an example to Daytona and was allowed to run it in Battle of the Twins where he made quite the display as his rider rode the rear wheel, flashing the peace sign to spectators as the competition tried to catch them. Sadly, John succumbed to cancer at age 45, robbing us all of what might have been.

This is bike #001 - the design details on this one were especially unique
This is bike #001 - the design details on this one were especially unique

Brittens were sold with a tuning laptop in each crate which was remarkably innovative for the time. Expensive even then, (prices varied, but around US$75,000 seems to be the range), they are now among the most treasured motorcycles in the world and easily worth more than 10 times that now.

With only 10 Brittens on the planet, George Barber saw to it that nine of them made it to the Vintage Festival. Think about that for a moment – that's 90 percent of the entire production run in one spot, turning the Barber Festival into an defacto Britten festival.

The missing man, John Britten was on everybody's mind all weekend. Gone too soon.
The missing man, John Britten was on everybody's mind all weekend. Gone too soon.

Indeed, one of them was already there, because George Barber invested in John Britten’s dream early on and was one of the first buyers. He is to this day an original owner of the first Britten group. Those who attended the annual Motorcycles by Moonlight museum charity dinner got to see them all in one room. This proved to be much more intoxicating then any of the beverages served, at least until the next day when five were paraded on the track at once, with a couple on the back wheel in true Britten fashion.

Kirsteen Britten gave a talk about John, some of the things he did and even a couple of stories about the tribulations of living with an eccentric genius (i.e. he sunk the family boat twice). She is a really fine public speaker, and absolutely charming in person.
Kirsteen Britten gave a talk about John, some of the things he did and even a couple of stories about the tribulations of living with an eccentric genius (i.e. he sunk the family boat twice). She is a really fine public speaker, and absolutely charming in person.

Kirsteen Britten, John’s wife, was on hand to speak about John’s life and passion. She also flagged off the parade lap with the bikes on the track

Five Brittens on the track at once: never before and probably never again

Kirsteen Britten takes to the track with George Barber at the wheel of his Porsche 505 Spyder
Kirsteen Britten takes to the track with George Barber at the wheel of his Porsche 505 Spyder

Kirsteen Britten leads the parade of Brittens while seated on the back of George Barber’s Porsche Spyder

George Barber and his staff

The Southern gentleman turned around on the tram. "Is everything all right? Is there anything you need?" He had white hair and look of concern as we rode around the track. None other than Mr. George Barber himself was sampling the service being provided at the grounds that bear his name. He patiently moves through the crowds like a host at a Derby Day party, making sure everyone is content and everything is sufficient. One of the hallmarks of the Barber Vintage Festival is plain old Southern Hospitality.

Friday night's always popular museum fund raising dinner. This year (because it was Britten) they had to turn people away it sold out so early.
Friday night's always popular museum fund raising dinner. This year (because it was Britten) they had to turn people away it sold out so early.

Some meets have organizers and staff that interact with their patrons more like taskmasters with whips. Not so at Barber’s. All staff will treat you with courtesy and genuine concern. They want to make sure you’re happy and help if you’re not. It’s important to ask and listen, to learn to improve. It’s a mandate that comes directly from the top, Mr. Barber himself. And it’s the secret sauce to how they always manage to take it up several notches every year.

George Barber shows off his new Britten jacket
George Barber shows off his new Britten jacket

The gentleman who makes it all possible, George Barber

The "Wall of Death" emulates vintage board track racing
The "Wall of Death" emulates vintage board track racing

The Museum and Grounds

It’s the first thing you see when you enter the park and frankly, it’s just plain majestic. Five stories of poured concrete with a glass front that brings to mind more upscale hotel than motorcycle museum. Barbers is often described as an 850 acre botanical garden with a race track and what is commonly regarded as the best motorcycle museum in the world. The grounds are spotless, and the crowds at BVF respect that.

Heading into the museum at dusk for the Britten dinner. The park stays open all night so the party never really stops until Sunday afternoon.
Heading into the museum at dusk for the Britten dinner. The park stays open all night so the party never really stops until Sunday afternoon.

There is a huge camp area and it’s popular, with good bathrooms and lovely views. The ground staff knows what’s nesting here, what has babies, and concern for the surrounding environmentally sensitive river is paramount.

Camping is popular here and even the swap meet provides a great setting for sleeping under the stars here
Camping is popular here and even the swap meet provides a great setting for sleeping under the stars here

The race track is sold out most of the year for track days and corporate functions, Porsche and Mercedes have offices on the grounds. So while it’s probably true that the grounds and racetrack each sets a world standard, it’s the museum that stands alone in it’s unlikely to ever be contested "Best In The World" status.

The state of the art dedicated building holds roughly 1600 motorcycles and is currently undergoing an expansion that will double its size. Inside the vast collection is the largest Lotus car collection in the world as well as many machines a staunch enthusiast will recognize as the core MOMA Art of the Motorcycle exhibit. You could easily spend a day in the museum alone and many do just that.

The Racing

Sparse grids, single file races? Not at Barbers. This is the race entrants look forward to all year, so much so that AHRMA, the series that sanctions the weekend had to find a way to limit entry’s by requiring pre-Barber qualifier races in order to get in.

Watching the races from Ace Corner
Watching the races from Ace Corner

The resulting full grids, top name racers and busy paddock make for outstanding spectating. The best part? It’s all included in the price of your standard BVF gate admission. If you get tired of watching the road races (which includes the Century race and of course the Britten on track exhibition), there’s vintage MX dirt track racing thru the surrounding woods as well.

Need a couple lifetimes worth of Moto Guzzi parts? Here you go! (brown tarp included).
Need a couple lifetimes worth of Moto Guzzi parts? Here you go! (brown tarp included).

The Motorcycle Swap meet

The swap meet has six hundred vendor spaces and sells out months before the event. and the Barber staff works hard to keep the focus on small vendors. Jeff Ray CEO noted years ago that when one mega meet kept increasing its fees due to popularity, the smaller guys got nudged out. Soon it was nothing but professionals selling reproduction parts and services.

Former Superbike racer (and now accomplished author) Paul Ritter selling his book in the AHRMA paddock
Former Superbike racer (and now accomplished author) Paul Ritter selling his book in the AHRMA paddock

He realized that attendees have a "lust for rust," that they like to find those small treasures like the Pickers do. In fact the swap meet has a pickers contest. The entrants with the most unusual item entered, are awarded a trophy and a free space the next year.

Vendors have been known to make sales just as they pull in

The Century Race

Early on the Museum began "The Race of the Century." To enter, participants had to have a motorcycle at least 100 years old. Each year the field got larger and the speeds faster. By 2012 (1912) better brakes and dual speed rear ends were making it really interesting. Last year they realized that they were now getting into the era of 3 speed transmissions and big V-twins. Speeds would be approaching 80+ mph. The focus shifted to a parade lap for 100+ year old motorcycles. The happy result is the Indian – Harley wars might never end. At least not while Barber is offering such a choice battlefield.

The year the field consisted of a couple of Harley Davidsons that had been battle tested in a Cannonball cross country run, a Triumph single and an Indian V-twin.

Another facet of the mid-day activities on Saturday is a parade lap of honor for any machine that had participated in the Cannonball race, a cross country rally for pre-1936 or pre 1916 motorcycles depending on the year. It’s quite a show – the gambit ran from flat tank Harley Davidsons to Art Deco BMWs.

Crossing the finish line always feels good – 1929 101 Indian Scout

Motorcycles On Parade

We’ve all heard the term "Three Ring Circus," where three separate shows were going on at once under the Big Top. Multiply that times three at The Barber Vintage Festival.

Meguro became Kawasaki - this bike is rare, rare, rare!
Meguro became Kawasaki - this bike is rare, rare, rare!

Early on the VJMC (Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club) and AMCA (Antique Motorcycle Club of America) became one of the foundations for the festival. Each club was given an area to stage a ride-in bike show. It was popular and as the festival grew, more shows sprung up; formally and informally. Motorcycle Classics magazine took over the formal task of the "main" bike show and with the promise of the winner making the magazine owners started turning up with bikes from all 49 states. Soon Ace Café joined the party with one of their own as well – for an additional fee you could enter its build-off show and sip adult beverages while watching the races (by paying admission to a private area).

Beautiful Honda CB-92 Benly series in the VJMC bike show. This was Honda's first "sport bike".
Beautiful Honda CB-92 Benly series in the VJMC bike show. This was Honda's first "sport bike".

A Honda CB-92 and Honda S-90 on display in VJMC area

This artist paints with chopsticks. His work was for sale in the swap meet
This artist paints with chopsticks. His work was for sale in the swap meet

The Art

One of the most unexpected things about Barbers is the applications of art in its public spaces. They vary from whimsical (like the giant ants carrying away a motorcycle and rider as well as a giant Coca Cola bottle), the ultra-serious (The Ted Gall sculpture "The Chase" on the museum’s front lawn) and the iconic (the giant spider in the race track front straight grass by the Charlotte’s Web turn). A walk around the track might take you past a pride of lions on the hunt, an Indian totem, giant flowers with spinning petals, Don Quixote on his horse, and a man seemingly drowning in a lake known as the "Zombie Frenchman." Art is all throughout the museum too and it’s not just interesting, it’s remarkably clever – a real car in parts displayed to resemble a giant model car kit, and "trees" made of motorcycles that seem to grow thru the museums floors are but two examples of many. It’s not a stretch to suggest a visit here for the art and artistic displays alone.

That's the "Globe of Death". Three riders traveling up to 60mph in a small sphere.
That's the "Globe of Death". Three riders traveling up to 60mph in a small sphere.

Thrill Shows

One of the favorite past times at any motorcycle event is the Motorcycle Thrill Show and like everything else at Barber’s they deliver three times more entertainment than you might expect. The traditional stunt show is taken over the top (literally) by the On The Edge motorcycle stunt show. Based in the UK this accomplished quartet of trials bike experts pull off the impossible numerous times a day.

Nestled in the fan zone is a strange looking metal mesh ball that houses as many as three genuine "daredevil" riders at a time all somehow managing to miss each other as they ride inside the sphere fast enough to glue themselves with centrifugal force upside down at speeds up to 60 mph. The three "man" team is actually two guys and a gal and the crowd loves that reveal, which is saved until the end. More surprising is that this, like many carnival shows, is a family business and the globe (and show) date back to 1912 when the Uris family took it on the road.

Completing the trio is an old fashioned Wall of Death. This mother of all carnival shows is run by the American Motor Drone Company and showcases the vintage American sport of board track racing using antique Indian and Harley Davidson motorcycles. Fans stand inches from the riders who scream by and grab dollar bills from the crowd as the whole platform sways with the force of the machines inside it. If you have never seen it this authentic (and memorable) piece of Americana it’s like stepping thru a doorway back in time.

Want to attend the Barber Vintage Festival in 2016?

Plan ahead. Camping and swap meet spots sell out in days once sales open. This year’s crowd of 69,000 attendees was a record but there were almost no lines to get in or anywhere else, and buying your $60 (or less with advance purchase) three day pass is part of that lovely no-waiting-in-line process. The website is really informative, check out this link for the FAQ.

In the meantime, take a closer look at all of these reasons (and more) to put this ebent on your agenda in our extensive Barber Festival photo gallery.

1 comment
Jetwax
Great coverage. Had a great time at "Sound of Thunder 2015" in Christchurch, NZ, earlier this year, where the Brittens were displayed along with his truck and MB 280SL. If you're interested in seeing more of the Chch event, here's a YouTube link that shows the Brittens on display and being ridden & lots of other links down the side . . . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3LJjYFI5Z0 Enjoy d'-)