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Inside the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

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Inside the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum
Inside the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham, Alabama, and is home to an impressive collection of restored vintage motorcycles. The museum has more than 1,600 vintage and modern motorcycles. There are even race cars present in the museum. The newer museum that opened in 2003 includes a 16-turn 2.38-mile track designed by Alan Wilson.

Who is George Barber, Jr.?

George Barber, Jr. is the owner and operator of the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham, Alabama. He is a businessman and philanthropist, spreading his passion for motorcycles across the country.

George Barber, Jr. created the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham, Alabama. George was the son of George H. Barber, the founder of Barber Dairy. Barber Dairy was the one who helped set the standards for milk pasteurization in the United States. In the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, Barber Dairy bought several smaller dairies, making them the largest milk producer in Alabama. This operation is now a part of Dean Foods. 

George Barber, Jr. was fascinated by the Porsche racers of the 1960s, and with his own cars, he took 63 first-place finishes. After these, he became interested in motorcycles. Barber decided to open a museum, hiring skilled workers to restore vintage motorcycles. The building was initially used as a refurbishing building for commercial vehicles.  Barber also operated a vintage motorcycle racing team that toured the United States and Europe.

Barber’s collection started in 1988 and quickly became the best and largest motorcycle collection in the world.

In 1994, Barber’s collection became the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum when the 501(c)(3) nonprofit status was applied for. In 2002, Barber closed the original building and moved his collection. The new building was opened in 2003 and is visited by several hundred thousand people a year.

Seminars Available From the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

There are several seminars available from the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. These seminars are open to the public. Each one is unique and offers an exciting dive into the world of vintage motorsports.

  • Behind the Bars: American Motocross with Barry Higgins
    • A seminar explaining a short history of American Motocross with Barry Higgins, famous motocross driver
  • Karting: Introduction to Karting
    • A breakdown of the different types of go-karts and how to race them
  • The 123s and ABCs of the Barber Museum Research Library
    • Learn about the different oddities and exclusive information available with the Barber research library
  • Love of Lotus: The Lotus X
    • Lee Clark, the director of restoration at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, explains the restoration process of the museum’s Lotus X
  • Trails Racing: A History with Kurt Comer
    • Learn the history of Trails racing with Kurt Comer, Director of the AHRMA
  • Neale Bayly: The Laverda Project
    • A discussion and walk down memory lane with Laverda owner Neale Bayly
  • Top Fuel Drag Racing and the RNE Team
    • Chris Hand, drag racer and team owner, discusses his journey from street bikes to Top Fuel

The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum Research Library

The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum Research Library and Archives began in 1997. This library and archives were used to help create restorations of the motorcycle and car collections. The library has become one of the largest collections of motorcycle literature in the world. This library contains over 10,000 books.

Along with the number of books in the collection, there are more than 380 motorcycle and car magazines, auction catalogs, service manuals, photographs, parts catalogs, and over 900 videos. The library is the permanent home to interesting memorabilia that includes awards, trophies, models, toys, art, and anything that is motorcycle-related that can be thought of.

The library is used by museum staff for reference and is often invaluable assets for complex tasks they are in charge of. For questions about the museum’s library, the museum can be emailed directly.

Planning a Visit to the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

The museum is located at 6030 Barber Motorsports Parkway in Birmingham, Alabama. There are several different ways that spectators coming to the museum can get here. The routes to Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum are adapted from Motorcycling Alabama: 50 Ride Loops through the Heart of Dixie by David Haynes. This is available for purchase in the museum store.

The Alabama and Georgia State Line Ride

If you are looking to take in the most captivating views of Alabama, this ride along the Alabama and Georgia state lines follow a high ridgeline going southward and then returns to small winding country roads. The elevation of this ride can reach 1,500 feet showing riders the open view of Alabama’s highest point. Passing through the downtown business district of Wedowee shows what mid-twentieth century life was like. The end of the route takes you northeast through woodlands and small farms.

Cook Springs, Logan Martin Dam, and Highway 25

A shorter ride, often completed in an afternoon, this ride can be combined with a visit to Barber. Starting on Interstate 20 in Cook Springs, this route takes those traveling along twisting back roads and the farm country up to the shoreline of Logan Martin Lake. 

Oak Mountain, Highway 25, and Montevallo

With a start and end near Oak Mountain State Park, this route crosses the Cahaba river. It passes near Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park as well as the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge. In the spring, those traveling can witness the blooming of the Cahaba Lilies. 

Talladega National Forest Road

This route has some of the best roads in the state of Alabama. It follows the ridgelines of the Talladega Mountains. The route takes you through hills and woodlands with scenic stops, including the Clay County Courthouse Square, and the remains of the Waldo Covered Bridge.

Cheaha State Park

The beginning and end of this route are in Cheaha State Park. There are many different spectacles here like cabins, hotels for lodging, camping, and even a restaurant with a panoramic view. This route has road and gravel, which is excellent for the dual-sport bike.

Hours and Admission

The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum has different hours at different times during the year. They also offer an assortment of major event weekends. The schedule for each significant event weekend can be found on the website as it is subject to change.

  • April 1 to September 30
    • Monday through Saturday: 10 AM to 6 PM
    • Sunday: Noon to 6 PM
  • October 1 to March 31
    • Monday through Saturday: 10 AM to 5 PM
    • Sunday: Noon to 5 PM
  • Closed on all major holidays
    • New Year’s Day
    • Easter
    • July 4
    • Thanksgiving
    • Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
    • If planning to visit on other holidays like Labor Day or Memorial Day, call the museum to verify their hours of operation

Admission to the museum includes three different tiers. These tiers are for general admission to the museum and not during a significant event weekend.

  • Adults: $15 plus applicable taxes
  • Children ages 4 to 12: $10 plus applicable taxes
  • Children 3 and under: Free

Pets are not allowed in the museum.

Are there tours and field trips to the museum available?

The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum offers tours and accommodates field trips. For those looking to visit the museum as a group, calling or emailing ahead can ensure a tour or rate for your group. 

When planning a trip to the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, there are group rates and accommodations available. There are different types of tours and field trips that the museum handles regularly. 

Tours

There are two types of tours available. These are Premium Museum Tours and Prearranged Group Tours. 

  • Premium Museum Tours
    • These tours can be added to the regular admission price for an additional $15 plus applicable taxes. This tour will include a docent-led tour as well as a visit to the Restoration Level of the museum. Premium Tours are available on Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30 AM and Sunday at 1 PM. These tours are first-come-first-served.
  • Prearranged Group Tours
    • Groups with a party of 10 or more adults can schedule a customizable and docent-led tour. This tour will highlight all the unique features of the museum, including the Restoration Level and the Pedestrian Bridge. Group Tours can include the Barber Motorsports Park.

 

Field Trips

The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum offers guided field trips. These field trips include the best and largest motorcycle collection as well as views of the Barber Motorsports Road Course. 

Guided field trips are prearranged and will be done during weekdays. If the group coming for the field trip is tax-exempt, the paperwork for the tax exemption must be submitted when scheduling the tour.

  • Pricing for Field Trips (does not include applicable taxes)
    • Guided Student Tours: $10 per student for 1 hour
    • Activities Hour: $5 per student for 1 hour
    • Chaperones: $5
    • Teachers and Bus Drivers: Free
  • For those looking to set up a Guided Field Trip visit the website for a point of contact

Field trips can be customized. These customizations can be done for the tours and the activities hours. 

Customizable Tour Options

  • Rolling Through Time (Social Studies)
    • Focuses on the people, places, and events
    • The tour will take you from the Industrial Revolution through WWII and beyond
    • Discusses how motorcycles were developed and utilized, how they impacted Alabama, the United States, and the World
  • Wheels of Technology (Science, Technology, Math, and Engineering)
    • Learn how science, technology, engineering, and math get used in the exciting world of racing
  • Wheels in Motion
    • Learn how math, science, social studies, English language arts, technology, and character education that are used in the world of motorsports

Activities Hour Option #1

  • Build-a-Bike Challenge
    • Students will work together with a restoration crew at the museum to build a motorcycle
  • Design-a-Bike
    • Students create a bike using clay and other techniques that design engineers use today
  • Let’s Go Racing!
    • Students will be able to participate in a race simulation that is made using a video game of the Barber Vintage Motorsports Track

Activities Hour Option #2

  • Diagnose-a-Bike
    • Students will work together as a team to review manuals and consider the symptoms of their motorcycle, determine the diagnosis, and solve a mystery of who owns the bike

Boy Scouts of America Engineering Badge Program

The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum offers a program for the Boy Scouts of America to obtain their Engineering Merit Badge from start to finish. The program is $18 per Boy Scout and includes all of the materials needed, including the patch. The museum does ask that the scouts be prepared for the program by reading the Engineering Merit Badge Book before their visit.

The Engineering Merit Badge Program is offered on certain Saturdays through the year. Contact the museum if you need to find when this is available. Registration is required for this program.

How do museums transport their motorcycles for exhibits?

The owners of vintage bikes will often use a professional moving company to get their bike to the destination it needs to go. Most vintage motorcycles are not ridden for prolonged amounts of time or long distances due to the work that goes into restoring them.

When you need to ship a vintage motorcycle or car someplace across the United States, call upon A-1 Auto Transport to get the job done. At A-1, we understand that your vintage vehicle means a lot to you. We offer special transport for these types of vehicles to keep them safe from the time we pick them up until we get them to the destination you decide. 

For vintage motorcycles and cars, we offer enclosed transport trailers that can protect the vehicle from the debris and weather elements that could impact the paint and other factors that could be costly to fix. When you need a company to transport your vintage vehicle, A-1 Auto Transport is ready to give you a free quote and transport your vehicle where it needs to go.

Joe Webster
Written By:Joe Webster
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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing. 

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood. 

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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