George Barber, the former dairy magnate and real estate developer who built Birmingham’s Barber Motorsports Park and Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, has been elected to the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.
Barber was elected in the Ambassador/Industry category for the Class of 2014.
“George Barber’s incredible collection of motorcycles at his museum, as well as his world-class racing facility, are evidence of a love for the history of motorcycling and an appreciation for the passion we all share,” Ken Ford, a member of the Hall of Fame executive committee and treasurer of the American Motorcyclist Association board of directors, said in a statement. “His significant investment of time, energy and money has produced a world-class shrine to the design, manufacture and enjoyment of motorcycles.”
In April, the museum announced that it had been recognized by Guinness World Records as the largest motorcycle museum in the world.
The collection numbers more than 1,400 motorcycles. The five-story glass, steel and concrete structure features eye-catching displays of motorcycle towers and machines suspended from walls.
It is part of the 830-acre park, which features a 16-turn, 2.38-mile road racing track and draws auto and motorcycle races, conventions and festivals throughout the year.
Barber, who has been collecting motorcycles for 25 years, started the museum in a warehouse on Southside before the current location off Interstate 20 opened in 2003.
He said his first reaction to his Hall of Fame election was disbelief.
“I know that there are so many great people in the Hall of Fame that I wondered, ‘How in the hell did I get in?'” Barber said. “It truly is an honor.”
In an April interview, Barber said he is fascinated by the design and mechanics of motorcycles.
They also have their own personalities, he added.
“If you come early in the morning or late in the evening, these machines will talk to you; they’ll tell you a little about themselves,” he said. “Particularly the world champion bikes … you’ll walk by and feel the vibe and the energy of where they’ve been.”
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held Oct. 17 in Orlando as part of the AMA National Convention.
Barber is the third member of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Class of 2014 to be announced. The two others are motocross pioneer Pierre Karsmakers and racer and motorcycling advocate Tom White. The remaining 2014 inductees will be announced in random order in the coming weeks.