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Barber Motorsports Museum

  1. #1
    Changes come butcher bergs's Avatar
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    Barber Motorsports Museum


    After visiting family in Ft Pierce, FL, we took the drive to Barber, which is roughly 10hrs in normal conditions, I found it's actually more like 13hrs with a wife and child. Our main interest was the museum and so we reserved 3 tickets for the guided tour along with general admission.

    We were running very early as the tour would start at 10:30a and go for 2.5 to 3hrs in duration. Upon arrival around 9am (Alabama time) we immediately saw the entire facility is kept well groomed and in excellent condition throughout. We parked the car and as we made our way into the museum we were greeted with the delightful sounds of engines that were clearly circulating the track. I could pick out the wail of Porsche flat-6's and the rumble of American V8's.

    We entered the museum and I was instantly smacked in the face by the smells of grease, tires and well-aged motorcycles. We were greeted by the gentleman who helped us with our ticket reservations, Brandon. We were then free to roam about the museum until our 10:30 tour time but were highly encouraged by Brandon to check out both of the observation bridges that spanned two sections of the track. Around that time is when we met our tour guide, Mr Alfred Smith.

    Because the tour count for the day was light (7 people in total), Alfred joined us on both bridges and without getting too deep into the tour info, proceeded to point out a few details that were placed around the track...random things like a yeti fishing, or a person hanging onto one of the bridges....little jokes here and there but details that ultimately require several visits in order to notice them all.

    Regardless, I took in viewing of the track as much as possible from each vantage point, looking clear across the full course, from one end to the other. Multiple track-prepped Porsches, Corvettes, Mustangs, a Radical, a Panoz Esperante, a couple GTR's and several Miatas all went blistering by below us as we momentarily peered through the large glass sections on the floor of the walkway. At one point my daughter yelled that it was very loud and I could only muster the response of "that's what awesome sounds like"....all captured on video future laughs.

    With 10:30 approaching, we walked with Alfred from the bridges to the tour meeting point inside the museum. There was already too much to look at and it was obvious that this facility means business when it says it has a museum. I believe I used the word "jaw dropping" in a text to a friend when we were about 30 minutes into the tour. The sights, sounds, the smells, all hit my senses like a 100 freight trains and I could not have been more delighted. I noticed that visitors could get as close as they wanted to the exhibits but no touching! This meant I could lean over a John Surtees Ferrari all I wanted and see where he sat while he raced that specific car back in the 60's. (and by the way, to see the minuscule size of the race cars was very surprising!)

    I don't want to give too much away from the details of the tour but I would suggest it for any first timers or semi-enthusiasts. Even though we would have been totally fine without the tour, there were some surprising things that I learned...and I consider myself to be quite knowledgeable when it comes to motorized vehicles. One fact was that the entire museum is the personal collection of Mr George Barber and hearing the story of how it all was started is worth the price of entry alone, IMO. Then there is also the collection of Lotus cars to take in.

    As Alfred brought us through the multiple levels of exhibits, the tour allowed us to get into the restoration area of the museum....and that section alone could have taken a day to go through. We got to see several bikes going through restoration and saw Mr Barber's personal 918 Spyder as well as an MTT Y2K.

    After the restoration area, we were back up several levels to visit the vintage Harleys and Excelsiors with several examples completely unrestored, which is amazing to see in person considering the age and otherwise exceptional condition the bikes were in.

    We continued to wander through the museum with Alfred giving facts and history as well as taking questions from our group along the way. His presentation was accurate and informative and he is someone I would highly recommend after taking the tour with him as our guide ("docent" is his actual title).

    During the tour, one highlight that brought me to the museum was the Britten V1000 they have on display....bike #7. I won't get into the more personal side of why this bike (or its creator, John Britten) is so important to me but just know Mr Britten created many things in his short life, one of which was a group of 10 motorcycles that were hand-built at his house and which took roadracing by storm with its innovations at the time. Mr Britten was such an inspiration to me that my daughter shares his name. Upon seeing this bike, the pink and blue paint, all of the emotions, the excitement, the wonder, the curiosity of meeting a hero...all of it hit me hard enough to where I had to step away for a moment. I was in the presence of something that I'd looked up to for years upon years, or at least I looked up to the reason the bike ever existed in the first place. To know this hand-built machine was one example of something made at the home of its creator....it was there, directly in front of me and so yes, there was a moment for me to be near that machine and to have my daughter there hearing it from someone else about the importance of that bike and the contributions and determination of one John Britten.

    The tour continued into the history of motorcycle racing and we moved toward the dirty bikes, again, of all kinds. Hodakas, ATKs as well as the very first Honda CRs. We passed by the turbo bikes of the 80's....Yamaha Seca Turbo, Honda CX500T as well as the offerings from Kawi and Suzuki. The entire section of drag racing bikes, stunt bikes and movie bikes were displayed as well.

    We made our way over to a beat up and well worn 2012 Yamaha Tenere and I began wondering "why is this bike significant?" Turns out there is a man named Paul Pelland from Londonderry, NH (of all places) who was diagnosed with MS. Instead of giving up on riding, he decided to ride. I believe he is also featured in an episode of "Chasing the Cure". There's a story in there about Mr Pelland that I've purposely left out as I am not the one who should be telling his story as I would not do it the proper justice. He has a website ( https://www.longhaulpaul.com/ ) that can be visited if you like to do some reading.

    The tour was pretty well wrapped up by the time we made it over to the collection of Lotus cars, with a few highlights sprinkled in such as the entire composite body that Lotus created, which, IIRC weighed in at a total of 60lbs or some insanely low number like that.

    In another thread, I described the experience as "religious" and I stand by that statement. The amount of history, significant and insignificant machinery and all of the tiniest of details are there to take in in as much or as little amounts of dosages as you see fit. I didn't take a whole lot of pictures but once I can get to my wife's phone and pull some of those, I will put up some pics. However, after being there, none of the pictures that I'm putting up and none of the pictures you've ever seen will ever do this museum justice!

    This is the motorsports equivalent of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. That is to say--> Prepare to be awed, amazed and dumbfounded all at the exact same time.

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  2. #2

    Re: Barber Motorsports Museum

    Great report. Cost for the tour/entry?

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  3. #3
    Changes come butcher bergs's Avatar
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    Re: Barber Motorsports Museum

    Not sure of the individual cost, Sav. We paid $85 total for two adults and one child for the guided tour with general admission.

    The pricing structure is a bit wonky on their website so I found it was a whole lot easier to contact them directly to get the pricing sorted out and reserve the tickets.

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  4. #4
    Lifer PhilB's Avatar
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    Re: Barber Motorsports Museum

    I think the price of just regular admission is about $15.
    I've been there twice; once in 2011, and once in 2016 -- both times in conjunction with their annual vintage bike event in October.
    On both occasions, I spent more than a full 8-hour day in that museum, and could easily have spent 2 or 3 such days.
    Remarkable.

    PhilB

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  5. #5
    Changes come butcher bergs's Avatar
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    Re: Barber Motorsports Museum

    A few pics to whet the whistle...

    Main entrance
    Barber Motorsports Museum-img_20200229_091654452-jpg

    Museum
    Barber Motorsports Museum-img_20200229_092720196-jpg

    Layout of the grounds
    Barber Motorsports Museum-img_20200229_103212615-jpg

    Motorcycle completely made of wood
    Barber Motorsports Museum-img_20200229_151542888-jpg
    Barber Motorsports Museum-img_20200229_151548306-jpg

    Honda NR750
    Barber Motorsports Museum-img_20200229_142206645-jpg
    Barber Motorsports Museum-img_20200229_142211326_hdr-jpg

    Yamaha R7
    Barber Motorsports Museum-img_20200229_141920945-jpg
    Barber Motorsports Museum-img_20200229_141929688_hdr-jpg

    Long Haul Paul's Yamaha Tenere
    Barber Motorsports Museum-img_20200229_144239620-jpg
    Barber Motorsports Museum-img_20200229_144244854-jpg

    Lotus Type 95T - John Player Special livery
    Barber Motorsports Museum-img_20200229_151026236_hdr-jpg
    Barber Motorsports Museum-img_20200229_151040568_hdr-jpg

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    Last edited by butcher bergs; 03-06-20 at 07:29 PM.

  6. #6

    Re: Barber Motorsports Museum

    It is truly the Mecca of motorcycling and you have nailed it in your post!! Told ya its better then Daytona, been three times and will gladly go again! Anyone who has any interest in bikes or racing needs to visit at least once in there life. its the coolest place and racing there will be one of my fondest memories! Glad you went and great report!!!! . motor on,

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    Last edited by MUZ720; 03-06-20 at 07:51 PM.

  7. #7
    Changes come butcher bergs's Avatar
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    Re: Barber Motorsports Museum

    Quote Originally Posted by MUZ720 View Post
    It is truly the Mecca of motorcycling and you have nailed it in your post!! Told ya its better then Daytona, been three times and will gladly go again! Anyone who has any interest in bikes or racing needs to visit at least once in there life. its the coolest place and racing there will be one of my fondest memories! Glad you went and great report!!!! . motor on,
    Thank you. I'm sure I would have been pleased with either decision however Barber has been on my list for many years and this most recent road trip was the chance to seize the opportunity to visit while we were "in the neighborhood". It added a substantial amount of time and mileage to our return trip but I believe it was worth it. Seeing my wife and daughter completely immersed in that environment and hearing about their respective experiences was a great time to connect as a family on our ride back to NH.

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  8. #8
    Soul Rider Paul_E_D's Avatar
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    Re: Barber Motorsports Museum

    Racing in the vintage festival there with AHRMA is a lifetime achievement. The whole thing is just mind blowing.

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    Paul_E_D


  9. #9
    Super Moderator OreoGaborio's Avatar
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    Re: Barber Motorsports Museum

    Quote Originally Posted by butcher bergs View Post
    I won't get into the more personal side of why this bike (or its creator, John Britten) is so important to me but
    I wouldn't mind hearing more about it if ya don't mind sharing.

    Love the write-up. Glad you guys had an awesome time!

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  10. #10
    Changes come butcher bergs's Avatar
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    Re: Barber Motorsports Museum

    Quote Originally Posted by OreoGaborio View Post
    I wouldn't mind hearing more about it if ya don't mind sharing.

    Love the write-up. Glad you guys had an awesome time!
    The lite version is that John Britten was inspiration for me during a time when I was searching for answers. Upon my discovering of his determination to create whenever he felt there could be improvement is something that helped me drive to be more than where I came from. As I learned about the lengths he was willing to go to in order to create or improve, I found that he was someone who simply did not give up. That detail is where I found my inspiration.

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  11. #11

    Re: Barber Motorsports Museum

    I remember seeing the Britten for the first time at Daytona. It was like a magnet for me I stared at it and talked about every time I went into the pits that weekend. His story is truly inspiring and sadly tragic. His bikes will live on, his legend preserved for all time..

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  12. #12
    Soul Rider Paul_E_D's Avatar
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    Re: Barber Motorsports Museum

    The britten is still ground breaking today. His biography is a great read.

    Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk

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  13. #13
    Pescador de Ilusões Eddie's Avatar
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    Re: Barber Motorsports Museum

    This is going in the bucket list. I want to ride it too

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