“Oh, wow!” I exclaimed upon entering the Barber Motor Sports Museum. It is gigantic! Five towering floors filled with the world’s largest motorcycle collection. It also contains racing automobiles and bikes which adorn every nook and cranny.
There is even a race car on top of the elevator!
A massive sculpture, “The Chase”, commissioned from California sculptor Ted Gall, greets visitors at the entrance of the museum. These three enormous statues of men with masked faces riding large wheels weigh between 3,500 to 3,800 pounds and fits in well with this vast complex.
Birmingham native, George Barber, Jr., son of Barber Dairies founder, George H. Barber is the founder of the Motor Sports Museum. Barber Jr. who ran the dairy was also a real estate developer. Barber had raced Porsches in the 1960s and began collecting motorcycles in the 1970s. In 1994, his collection of motorcycles was established as the Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum. In 1998, Barber Jr. sold the dairy. In 2003 the museum moved to its present Birmingham location. Barber himself was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2014.
The nine hundred and thirty-acre sports complex contains the museum and a 2.38 mile sixteen turn world class road racetrack. The track serves as the site of Indy Car Series Grand Prix of Alabama races.
Of the fourteen hundred motorcycles in Barber collection, some nine hundred are on display at any one time. The museum welcomes some three hundred thousand visitors yearly including some three thousand foreign visitors.
Some two hundred different manufacturers’ from twenty counties over the past one hundred years are represented in the museum. The Lotus 21 is featured in the world’s most extensive collection of Lotus cars.
One display drew particular interest, that of Jim Rogers, a thirty-seven-year-old investment banker who in 1990, with his girlfriend motorcycled around the world. They traveled some six-five thousand miles and setting the world record for land travel. He wrote the book “Investment Biker” about the journey.
A lucrative part of the Motorsports arena is the North American Porsche Driving School where individuals can experience Porsche racing cars on the track. Prices there can range from $1800 for a day to $9600 for four days depending on what level of experience you care to have.
The facility hosts the 14th Annual Barber Vintage Festival in October which will feature the American Historical Racing Motorcycle Association (AHRMA).
This unique automotive museum should not be missed in Birmingham. Individuals who admire motorcycles and cars will flock to this bastion of automotive bliss.