Wednesday, February 16, 2011


It appears the star of the upcoming Quail Motorcycle Gathering will be one of the most famous motorcycles in history, the ex-Rollie Free Vincent Black Shadow which he rode to 150mph in 1948, wearing only his swim trunks, a helmet, and a pair of trainers...and that's why you pay someone else to ride at 150mph on the coarse salt of Bonneville!  The bike was later converted back to road use for its actual owner, John Edgar, but John had a road accident on the machine and didn't ride it afterwards.  It was decided during a re-commissioning to bring the Vincent back to its star turn at Bonneville, complete with Pegasus sticker on the tank.  And, I can't say I blame them, as there are thousands of road-going Vincents, but only one 'Bathing Suit' bike.  Rumors flew at Las Vegas this year that 'Free' Vincent recently changed hands for $1.1 Million...

The Quail will include a Concours this year, so if you have an interesting machine you'd like to show in the most beautiful surroundings on the West Coast, contact Courtney Porras-Ferrante for an entry.  See my previous post on what an excellent event this is shaping up to be. 
John Edgar (left) congratulates Free...with the riding outfit he did NOT wear for the record!
The Quail press release is below:

CARMEL, CALIF. (February 7, 2011) – Quail Lodge Golf Club, announced today that The Quail Motorcycle Gathering will feature the world’s most famous motorcycle, the John Edgar Lightning, star of the renowned “Bathing Suit Bike” photograph, shot in Bonneville Salt Flats in 1948. The John Edgar Lightning will join the exceptional display of fine motorcycles at the third annual Quail Motorcycle Gathering, taking place on May 14, 2011.  This year, the event will pay tribute to a century of racing at Isle of Man, while also showcasing the top motorcycles from the past, present and concepts for future. Entrants are now being accepted, and collectors and aficionados are invited to exhibit their bikes.

Building on the success of its sister automotive event, The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, the upcoming day-long celebration will offer guests an unmatched opportunity to compare the aesthetics and engineering of the world’s rarest pre-war and post-war sports and racing bikes, alongside spectacular custom motorcycles, all elegantly displayed in a picturesque Carmel Valley setting. For the first time, the optional full Concours judging will be offered for those enthusiasts interested in entering a motorcycle and competing for the coveted blue ribbon in their class.

“We are delighted to celebrate our third Annual Quail Motorcycle Gathering and bring together some of the most exciting motorcycles in history,” said Courtney Porras Ferrante, Signature Events Director for The Quail Events. “Our guests will have the exclusive opportunity to view the array of exceptional bikes at The Quail Motorcycle Gathering, while enjoying a picnic lunch and live auction, and a beautiful spring weekend in Carmel.”
Alain deCadenet at the Pebble Beach warm-up ride, 2009.
With collectors and enthusiasts, attendees will view the latest products from leading motorcycle manufacturers, dealerships, accessories and lifestyle vendors. Guests will also enjoy live entertainment and a Southern-style barbeque lunch prepared by the culinary team at Quail Lodge. Attendees will gain access to Bonhams live auction of rare motorcycles and memorabilia, which will include Steve McQueen’s 1971 Husqvarna 400 Cross, which he famously rode shirtless on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1971.  The auction will also feature a custom Yamaha R1, signed by World Champion Valentino Rossi, with proceeds to benefit Riders for Health. For more information about the Bonhams Auction, please visit here.

Tickets to The Motorcycle Gathering are $65 per person, $15 for children 12 and under, and inclusive of lunch, live musical entertainment and access to the Bonhams & Butterfields Auction. The benefiting Charity will be Riders for Health, an international non-profit organization that provides health workers across Africa with reliable, motorized transportation as well as the necessary training in riding, driving, and maintenance. For more information on the organization, please visit Event tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online at

To kick-off The Quail Motorcycle Gathering, enthusiasts are invited to participate in the one-day Quail Ride on Friday, May 13, 2011. The Ride, limited to 50 participants, will wind through 100 miles of the backroads of the Monterey Peninsula and conclude with a private dinner. The fee to participate in the Ride is $250 per rider, and includes a gift bag, lunch, track time at the legendary Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and admission to an intimate dinner reception featuring special guest speakers, and a private sneak preview of the Bonhams Auction motorcycles. Ride participants also will receive a ticket to The Quail Motorcycle Gathering and an invitation to display a bike as an entrant.

A limited number of entrants and event sponsorships are still available. For more information, please call (877) 734-4628.


Andrew Macpherson said...

I went last year too, and absolutely loved it. I already have my tix and hotel booked in, and am hoping I'll be riding up on the '74 R90S I'm deep into restoring at the moment.
I took loads of pix last year too, so if you are sort of thinking of going, but not sure, these should get you off the fence. They take a moment to load because there are so many, but be patient as what was on the lawn there was just stunning!

Anonymous said...

Dear Vintagent,

Are you somehow involved in this event, either as an organizer or paid consultant? Your post seems very "advertorial" or commercial, which is unlike you.

Ward Phillips

The Vintagent said...

Hi Ward,

Full disclosure: I'm not an organizer or a paid consultant, but Quail does use my articles in their catalog (for which I am paid of course), and I have been asked to speak at the event dinner and give commentary 'on the field'. Something I will do for any decent event (Hey, Amelia Island!) if they'll pay my expenses.

I'm a big supporter of ambitious motorcycle events. Vide - my coverage of the upcoming Montlhery vintage event, and of course the Legend of the Motorcycle Concours, at which I was a judge and also wrote copy for the catalog.

Supporter, yes, guilty! Invested Board member, no.

Anonymous said...

Hello Paul,
You're website is excellent and writing is superlative.

Be well,

dirtdancer said...

would there be any interest in this iconic pic w/ original signature? 8x10 black/white. plus a scrapbook of this day?