Surely we’ve all experienced over-assurance from others how a movie is going to be “so awesome,” or how a concert event is “the most amazing thing you’ll ever see.” My experience at the Barber Motorsports Museum had been slathered in such praise long before I arrived, setting me up for almost certain disappointment. For this reason, I could not be happier to comment on my visit there today by confirming that it is nothing short of INCREDIBLE!
Anyone with even the slightest interest in motorsports, its history, or the motorcycles and cars that have evolved since man first started racing is going to be heart-swept by the Barber Motorsports Museum. As if its contents aren’t enough, the museum’s setting in rural Alabama (just east of Birmingham), the 2.38-mile on-site racetrack, and building that displays this incredible collection of motorbikes and cars are all First Class.
At any given time, around half of George Barber’s 1200 motorcycles are on display in the 5-story museum that overlooks the racetrack outside. The oldest bike having been manufactured in 1902, over 200 manufacturers from 20 countries are represented in the fleet and names like BSA, Norton, and Maybach-Daimler adorn the scene (photo of the Maybach-Daimler Reitwagen below.) An information card helps explain each vehicle in the museum, its history, and sometimes why it was a success or a failure. The card in front of the Reitwagen replica credits it as being the 1st motorcycle ever built, reminding us with nostalgic undertones “this is where it all began.”
Don’t pass through Alabama without seeing this museum and planning on at least 4 hours to do so. In fact, don’t hesitate to make a special pilgrimage of sorts with some of your motorcycle-riding friends especially to see this fantastic tribute to motorsports. Like baseball fans traveling to Cooperstown or football fans to Canton, your trip to see this museum will be as unforgettable as the experience once you’re there.