George Barber owned and
raced Porsches, but he didn't like the way you
couldn't see the mechanical components without removing
the cars' body panels. A friend suggested Barber
consider motorcycles, which already have their engines
and other parts fully exposed. Barber bought one.
Then another. Eventually, Barber found himself with
1100 such vehicles, dating from some of the earliest
motor-powered bicycles to today's most modern two-wheeled
Barber's collection, of cars and "bikes,"
outgrew a warehouse in downtown Birmingham, Alabama,
where his family was in the milk distribution business.
In addition to dairy products, Barber became one
of the largest real estate developers in northern
Alabama and in 1998 he began converting some of his
acreage near the Interstates into a facility to both
race and showcase his collection of cars and motorcycles.
The result is Barber Motorsports Park and the Barber
Vintage Motorsports Museum, just east of Birmingham
near the intersection of Interstates 20 and 59.
Barber wanted his racetrack to be the Augusta of
auto sports, a racing facility on par with the golf
course that hosts the annual Masters tournament.
His 2.38-mile road course is wide, with 16 turns
and 80 feet of elevation changes. The track has no
grandstands, but is beautifully landscaped and designed
so spectators can sit on grassy hillsides and see
nearly the full span of winding pavement.
The museum is located near the track entrance and
features 144,000 square feet on four floors connected
by curving, freeway style ramps. The bottom floor
has separate restoration shops for cars and motorcycles.
In addition to the world's largest motorcycle collection,
Barber has the largest collection of Lotus cars in
the United States. Nearly all the vehicles are maintained
in running order and often are exercised on the adjacent
track, which also is home to the Porsche Sport Driving
The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.,
with longer hours during summer months. Admission
is only $10 for adults, $6 for those 4-12.
For more information, visit www.barbermusuem.org
or call (205) 699-7275.