The Motorcycle Cannonball will be hosted as riders finish for the day at Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham, AL on Monday, September 21, 2020.
George Barber started collecting and restoring classic sports cars in 1989, but his interest soon turned to motorcycles. He recognized that there was not a museum which reflected the history of motorcycles around the world and wanted to preserve motorcycle history in the United States in a way that represents an international aspect and to supply an example of motorcycles that until then could only have been seen in books and magazines. This was the theme used in the development of the Barber collection. An interesting aspect of the collection is that restorations are done in-house. Out of the same shop, a vintage motorcycle race team operated with the challenge of maintaining and racing historically significant machinery. These bikes were routinely campaigned around the United States and the world so that they could be enjoyed and appreciated in their original setting, rather than collecting dust in a garage. The Barber Vintage Motorcycle Team has won seven national championships.
In 1994, the Barber collection became the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum when it was granted 501(c)3 not for profit status. On March 14, 1995, the museum was officially opened to the public in the original location on Birmingham’s Southside. The museum operated here until November 1, 2002.
The Museum reopened at its new location at the Barber Motorsports Park on September 19, 2003. Along the way vehicles from the museum’s collection have been featured in exhibits around the world. Twenty-one motorcycles were selected for the famed Art of the Motorcycle exhibit at the Guggenheim’s New York and Bilbao, Spain location as well as the Field Museum in Chicago. England’s Goodwood Festival of Speed has featured cars from the Barber collection. Birmingham’s own Museum of Art has conducted a special exhibit featuring motorcycles from the Barber collection. The Museum has shown Motorcycles twice at Pebble Beach coming home with the first-place trophy both times. In April 2014, Barber was officially recognized by Guinness World Records as being the world’s largest motorcycle collection.
The collection now has over 1700 vintage and modern motorcycles as well as a substantial collection of Lotus and other racecars. It is considered the largest in North America and possibly the world. There are approximately 900 motorcycles on display at any given time. These bikes range from 1902 to current-year production. There are bikes from 22 countries that represent 220 different marques. The common street bike is represented, as well as rare one-off Gran Prix race machinery. Bikes have been purchased from as far away as Australia, New Zealand, and Sweden, but also as near as down the street.
The Barber Motorsports Park, home of the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum is also the home of a World-Class 2.38-mile Road Course, which has been built to FIA and FIM standards. The facility, which has been called the best in the nation, is 45-foot-wide with 16 turns and has 80 feet of elevation change. The paved paddock is tiered so that all competitors have the perfect view. Probably the most unique factor of this facility is that from most points around the track, the spectator has at least 80 percent total visibility of the on-track action.
*Official times announced closer to the event.