Article & Photos By: Kustom Jeff Dailey
Originally Published In The August 2016 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
The 11th annual Barber Vintage Festival is in the books and I’m happy to say I’ve been to them all. If you’ve never been, you need to make plans to be there next year. The swap meet is great, the racing is cool and everyone has a good time. The swap meet venders had a lot of great stuff from obscure Japanese dirt bike parts to rare Vincent parts. Pretty much if you needed it, it could be found if you dug deep enough. Across the road in the main vendor area there were some great companies on hand such as Motus and Triumph, the area was also the place see the Wall of Death and other daredevil shows. There was also another vendor area set up above the Paddock area where you could talk with companies like Indian Larry Motorcycles, Vanson Leathers, Caffeine and Gasoline and Devil Chicken Design among others. This year I was able to get Friday off from work so I could get out there early and start my weekend. I arrived around 7:30 for the photographers briefing that I was required to attend each day in order to be allowed down by the track to take pictures. After that I made my way to the swap meet to see my guys, Ian and Ross from Americana Speed Shop and Otto from Biltwell who was there to help sell cool stuff. After hanging out with them for a bit I made my way through the area to see if I could find the one piece I needed to fix my chopper.
No luck on Friday but I did eventually find it Saturday when my good luck charm Jason walked through with me. It was great to be able to talk with a bunch of folks while I wandered; including Rick from Rick’s Cycle who puts on the Bama Swap and Drag twice a year and Chad from Shop 102 as well as one of the guys from Choppahead. I almost didn’t recognize Phil from Endless Cycles he’s grown so much hair since I last saw him. Of course the Haints were in attendance as usual participating in the usual shenanigans. Somewhere along the way I managed to see Bean’re for a minute and finally met Bobby from Indian Larry Motorcycles. After roaming the swap meet I rode over to the Ace Café area to check out the bike show. They had some really nice café racers and a couple of cool choppers. The music in the Ace was mostly live performances and was as great as usual. From there it was a trip to the paddock area where I wandered through the pits checking out all of the great vintage race bikes and watched them get ready for their races. These guys have fun, but they take the racing pretty seriously too. The rest of the day was spent wandering the track and checking out the new bridge from the museum to the interior of the track. I got some really good shots of the racing from there.
This year the featured marque was Britten, a small company from New Zealand with a founder that in many ways reminds me of Burt Munroe. This company was one of the first to make extensive use of carbon fiber and they even cast their own engines. Be sure to look them up and you’ll be amazed at what they accomplished. Sadly, they were only able to build 10 bikes, but one of them was raced to a World Championship. This year 9 of those bikes were brought together at the festival and were ridden on exhibition laps all 3 days. It was great to see these machines on a track where they belong. Saturday started off bright and early with another briefing and then I was off to the races again. I managed to be there at the starting line for the Race of the Century featuring bikes that are at least 100 years old and then a race of the attending bikes that had run in the Cannonball Coast to Coast race. Both of these were fun and due to the low speeds they allowed us on the track inside the barriers to get some great pictures. During lunch I shot more pictures of the Brittens on the track and then finally one of my favorite times at the festival, The Wall of Death! These guys always put on a great show and Charlie, Wally and the gang made me feel very welcome and let me play around inside The Wall before the show to get some unique pics and a perspective that gives me a new respect for their art. The rest of Saturday and Sunday were spent shooting the race from trackside and the new museum bridge, hanging with my friends from both near and far, old and new and spending time in the museum getting into the places people don’t usually get to see. If you are into motorcycles you need to come to this event and make time to spend hours exploring the museum. The Barber Motorsports Park and Museum is one of the greatest places on Earth and the Vintage Festival is one of the best times to enjoy it. I hope to see you there next year!