Cherry O Wins
October 2008 People's Choice Award
at the Barber Vintage Festival
Barber Motorsports Park is located in Birmingham Alabama,
approximately eight miles South and East of Birmingham proper. Once
you exit Rt. 20, follow Bankhead Highway south to Rex Lane Road, turn
right, and the Park entrance will quickly appear on your right. Even
the access road in is made up of twisties and sweepers and bodes
well for what lies ahead. Eventually you come to a "T" intersecting
with Barber's main perimeter road. Uniformed Park personnel man all
critical ingress and egress points while offering courteous answers
to questions and concise directions to the appropriate parking or
onsite camping areas.
By design there is a stop sign at the "T". The museum sits
majestically atop a hill directly in front of you. It's the first
thing that comes to mind when I think of Barber. Barber Motorsports
Park is surrounded by heavily wooded pine treed hills set next to
meticulously manicured lush green lawns. The track is located in a
natural bowl of sorts and wends its way through some forested
sections too. The circular perimeter road is located above and
surrounds the track. Trolleys operate and travel in a clockwise
direction around the track at regular intervals. You can travel to
any desired vantage point of the track or simply disembark anywhere
that suits you. Everything is accessible.
The track was designed in the old English tradition of no
grandstands. Spectators spread out their blankets and enjoy picnic
lunches while watching the races. The setting is intimate and gives
Barber an isolated feel, away from the rest of the world, a vintage
motorcycle enthusiast’s dream come true.
The museum presentation of its collection is beyond description -
it’s simply mind boggling. The static displays have you shifting
mental gears at every turn. As Tony (my good friend, wrench and
fellow photographer) and I, wandered through the exhibits, the
glass walls were a constant reminder of the museum's unique and
well-considered orientation. The museum's North side faces the track and
timing tower, providing a spectacular view of the races! We left
there duly impressed and determined to return. We set our goal for
showing our bikes in Motorcycle Classics Bike Show East scheduled
for October 2008.
While unloading our bikes upon our return to Illinois, I grabbed my
camera and popped off a few quick shots of the V7 Sport to send to
Their magazine and bike show’s best epitomize the "vintage"
motorcycle scene. We complied a CD of both bikes and sent them onto
Richard Backus, editor-in-chief at Motorcycle Classics. When I
followed up with Richard by phone, he enthusiastically and
passionately shared his time and his philosophy behind Motorcycle
Classics magazine. Our discussion left me more inspired than ever!
The 2008 Motorcycle Classics bike show at Barber was a great
There is something for every sort of motorcycle enthusiast and
gearhead alike, with many families in attendance. I
always get a kick out of how kids love Cherry “O“! We didn’t bring
the bikes so much to show them competitively, but to share them with
other riders, particularly Moto Guzzi riders.
We entered our bikes in the Motorcycle Classics Bike Show East. The
show was great fun thanks to Richard Backus and his friendly and
knowledgeable staff. We were both delighted and surprised that our V7
Sport, Cherry "O" Baby wound up winning the People’s Choice award.
We consider the award a warm acknowledgement from fellow riders. The day, the show, and
friends we met along the way will always be "a crystal clear blue sky
day" memory for me.
On Sunday we loaded the bikes into the van and beat feet for Helen
Georgia. We decided to keep the good vibes going and reward
ourselves with a couple of days of mountain riding. Tony and I were
still blown away by the previous days experience. We had to
decompress. We are both country boys at heart and have lived in and love
Once we hit the road, the months of pressure leading up to the show
faded away. In a few short hours we were in Helen, Georgia. I lived
in Atlanta Georgia for about eight years, and hope one day, to
return there. While there, I frequented the Helen area as an avid
hiker, climber, and cyclist, bicyclist that is, on a regular basis.
The surrounding environs provide some of the finest smooth surfaced
asphalt ribbons anywhere. There are enough ascents, descents, off
camber curves, panoramic mountain overlooks, and piney smells to
satisfy the most jaded riders.
Early Monday morning, as we checked tire pressures and fueled up the
bikes, I couldn’t wait to finally see how they would perform. We rode
north out of town and headed for the nearest mountain pass. As we
turned on to the Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway, I looked out and
over the bars to the clear roadway ahead, listening to the Italian
exhaust notes rising song and remembered when I had asked Rick at
MG Cycle to describe the V7’s ride. He had simply said, “It’s God’s
For the next two days, we put our machines through their paces. We
traveled over mountain passes, through dark cool valleys, stopping
at little mountain towns just to take it all in. As we gained
confidence, our speed and lean angles increased. I am sure we were
both smiling the entire time. There were no anxious moments, no
required repairs, just the "rhapsody of man and machine"!
The V7 Sport is a bike that comes to life at 4500RPM, delivering
peak power to it’s 7500RPM redline. The ride is confidence-inspiring
and comfortable. It is the most enjoyable stock motorcycle I have
ever ridden and all the more so for having ridden it there. Anyone
planning a visit to the Helen area, especially motorcyclists, can
expect to find smooth well-maintained roads, beautiful mountain
scenery, and that southern hospitality is alive and well. Helen is
nestled in the north Georgia mountains, 90 miles north of Atlanta.
After returning from our first day's ride, we met Jay Fink, Assistant
Public Works Director. Jay walked over to check out the bikes and
visit after completing a water main repair. Helen is fortunate to
have such a great goodwill ambassador. Jay even shared some of his
favorite mountain roads with us, which we savored the next day. We
stayed at the Best Western and recommend it to anyone planning a
Barber Vintage Festival is a one-of-a-kind event. You can think of it as our Goodwood
Festival of Speed. It should be considered a top-tier destination
for anyone wanting to experience "Vintage" motorcycle shows, the
extensive museum collection, or the exciting AHRMA races, the last
races of the AHRMA calendar.
We can't wait to return there this year!