Every year thousands of visitors from all over the world come to Leeds, Alabama to visit Barber Motorsports Park and Museum. Over the past two decades (the park turned 20 in January), the attraction has drawn more than 3 million visitors to the state. If you’ve never been to this gem (it’s only a 20-minute drive from downtown Birmingham), we highly recommend adding it to the top of your Alabama bucket list. Car enthusiasts can check out the 16-turn racetrack. Motorcycle lovers will fawn over the massive two-wheel collection inside the museum. And even those who aren’t so interested in motorsports can enjoy the gorgeous grounds, gardens, and a surprising sculpture park. Here are five fun facts to know about Barber before you visit.
Barber is home to the world’s largest motorcycle museum.
The Guinness Book of World Records declared that Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum had the world’s largest collection of motorcycles in 2014. There are more than 1,600 motorcycles in the collection with more than 900 on display in the museum at any given time. The bikes represent more than 220 different manufacturers from 22 countries that vary greatly in size and style. For the HOGs out there, the collection also includes more than 100 different Harleys.
You can take a high-performance driving course in a Porsche.
Though Barber features a motorcycle museum, the entity originally began with owner George Barber’s love for cars. As such, the property is known for its 16-turn professional racetrack and the accompanying Porsche Sport Driving School. One of only three Porsche-sponsored track experiences in the U.S., Barber’s Porsche Driving School gives lucky pupils the opportunity to hone their skills and push the limits while operating a high-performance vehicle on a professional racetrack. Courses range from beginner to advanced and can last from one to four days.
The park doubles as a sculpture garden.
One thing you might not to expect from a motorsports park is a sculpture collection, but Barber is full of surprises. The first work you’ll see when entering the park is sculpture Ted Gall’s The Chase, which features three cloaked figures on wheels and collectively weighs five tons. See if you can spot 18 metal flowers from Birmingham sculpture William Colburn spread throughout the park. Then look out for five decorative steel gates from Branko Medenica and a functional kinetic wind-powered sculpture by Edward Lee Hendricks.
You can take a tour of the grounds on an open-air tram.
One of the best times to visit Barber is during the spring when the annual Garden Club Park Tours take place. From mid-March through mid-May, guests can hop aboard an open-air tram for a ride around the 880-acre campus with a guide who will point out interesting facts about the park’s flora, fauna, and various plant collections.
It’s hosts two signature events.
Barber is bustling nearly every day of the year, but the crowds really come out for two major events. The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama brings the same drivers and cars from the official Indy Grand Prixe to Barber each spring (April 28-30 this year). Festivities also include an exotic car show and beer and wine festival. The Barber Vintage Festival (October 6-8) draws thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts to the park each fall for three days of fun, food, entertainment, and vendors selling vintage motorcycles and parts.