Many will take in the sights at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of motorcycles and is undergoing a major expansion.
Days ago, Barber officials and Birmingham-based contractor BL Harbert International held a topping out celebration for the project, which is expected to be complete this fall and is slightly ahead of schedule, said Jeff Ray, the museum’s executive director.
The expansion is adding 85,000 square feet to the current facility, bringing the total to 250,000 square feet.
That means the museum, which already houses a soaring glass and steel display of motorcycles, will have even more space to show off the collection of dairy magnate and park founder George Barber.
“It will be an even bigger wow,” Ray said, adding that the extra room should allow for more multimedia exhibits and events at the facility. “Anything we can do to bring more people to Birmingham, that’s what we want to do.”
Barber’s collection, certified in 2014 by Guinness World Records, now tops 1,500 vintage and contemporary motorcycles. But the museum doesn’t have enough room now to display them at the same time, so the exhibits are rotated in and out.
BL Harbert broke ground on the expansion in September 2015. Once it is complete this October, more than 5,800 cubic-yards of concrete and 435 tons of rebar will be used in the project. Williams Blackstock Architects is the designer.
“Mr. George Barber has created a world-class facility, spurring economic development, tourism and even a world record, right here in our backyard,” said Parker Evans, senior project manager for BL Harbert. “BL Harbert is honored to be a part of the next chapter of growth for the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum.”
Economic developers have been known to use the racing venue as a recruiting tool, entertaining prospects at private dinners among the museum’s exhibits or during the festivals and races held on park grounds.
The park’s centerpiece is a 17-turn, 2.38-mile road racing track. Set among lush landscaping and the rolling hills of Central Alabama, the scene has earned Barber the nickname, “the Augusta National of motorsports.”
The park also is home to the Porsche Sport Driving School and has served as the backdrop for a number of automotive product launches. Another section, the Barber Proving Grounds, provides additional track space for events while the main track is in use.
New additions to the park over the past year include new garages for clients, a new classroom at the Proving Grounds and a second pedestrian bridge.
The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama kicks off Friday and will feature 11 races throughout the three-day weekend.