Saturday, December 9, 2006
Barber Motorsports Museum
It's been way too long since my last post. Unfortunately with the new marriage, work and winter setting in, I haven't had a lot of opportunity to ride. I've been working in Alabama since late October. As luck would have it I'm in Oxford which is just 50 or so miles from Barber Motorsports Museum and Track Complex so I took a drive that way today to satisfy my motorcycle cravings. I'm glad I did. Chances are if you ride a motorcycle you've heard of Barber Motorsport Museum. It's a beautiful facility with a world class track behind it. I've been to the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame and it doesn't compare. AMA's building is nice and modern but the Barber building is gorgeous. Based around a central elevator you ride up to the fifth floor and begin an hours long journey down a gently sloping ramp that spirals back down to the ground level. The floors are divided into different eras and themes but there's a little bit of everything on each floor. The back wall is glass and looks out over the track. It was about 58 degrees today so there were only a few hardy riders on sport bikes doing laps. In the parking lot were about twenty young guys with the same number of little Honda Civic tuners waiting to take to the track. The place seems like the spot for motorsports fun.
I walked in, paid my ten dollars and stepped in to Nirvana with a big dopey grin plastered to my face. Right inside the door was a Triumph Daytona 600 race bike and a Yamaha R6 from Michael Jordan's race team. We're off to a good start. Now the only problem is which way do I go? If I had been using my head I would have went straight to the elevator, gone to the top floor and walked down the spiraling ramp to each floor, it's a very neat design. Well in my state of excitement I just took a right and ended up in the Lotus race car section. Pretty and all but not what I was craving. Although there was a beautiful John Player Special. I remember having one in toy form as a child. It really was exciting to be that close to these pieces of history. You could see the worn leather seat in the cramped cockpit and imagine what it must have been like barreling down a straight close to 200mph.
I headed back toward the motorcycle section and was greeted by a Ducati 999R, nice shiny and red, sitting next to a Ducati race bike. Another visitor noticed me looking through the pictures I had taken and asked if I was picking the one I wanted. I laughed and replied that was easy, I wanted all of them.
The museum has an incredible mix of old and new, cruiser and sport bike and odd rarities. George Barber really should be commended. My personal favorites are sport bikes. I love the amazing technology that goes into them. For some reason however, old bikes are more fascinating to me. I've always loved history and I love the way motorcycles fit into history. It's the old yearning for a more simple life I guess.
I regret not grabbing a pen and pad to take notes, but I am proud of how my motorcycle knowledge has grown over the years. I recognized several bikes, especially the Britten V-1000. I even remembered the name.
I know I've been gushing and possibly getting carried away with the praise of this place but I haven't enjoyed myself quite this much for sometime. I must have spent three hours just looking. Truth is even though I got tired I found myself wishing I could rest for the evening and come back the next day. And I really wanted to watch the guys run the track and even watch the little Honda Civics do a few laps.
Bottom line is, if you like motorcycles and to a lesser degree auto racing, you'll love the museum.