Thursday, January 03, 2008


I've just ordered a copy of Jerry Hatfield's new book, 'Flat Out! The Rollie Free Story'. Here's a link to Jerry's Blog about the book, where he includes a few photos which he didn't find in time for publication. Rollie Free led a very interesting life before he rode 'that Vincent' into eternal fame, in his swimming trunks. I'm really looking forward to reading it, and will alter this post with a review when it arrives. In the meantime, I encourage you to buy his book too!

Publications like this as a rule have very small production runs, usually only 1000 books, and when they're gone, they can be very difficult to track down again, and they usually cost a whole lot more (try to find a copy of 'Henderson' or 'American Racer' for less than $400).

Top pic shows one of the 'unsuccessful' speed runs at Bonneville, Sep 13, 1948, with Rollie flat out on his Vincent Black Lightning, still wearing leathers. Later in the day he would ride the bike with only his helmet, swimming trunks, and sneakers (which were supposedly borrowed, and two sizes too big - he claimed they cost him 2mph!). The mountains of Utah dominate the background.

Second photo is Albert Held with Rollie's Vincent - Albert was 16 at the time. Lucky lad. The timing tower sits behind, and is where the most famous pic of Free was taken on his speed run.

Third pic is Rollie demonstrating how he 'got down to it' on the Lightning, and you can see that indeed he presents a very small frontal area to the wind. This photo was taken in Rollie Free's service station, back at home.

Last pic shows Rollie on an earlier run, still wearing his leathers, which have been damaged earlier in the day, and are repaired with duct tape - thus the light patch inside his leg.

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