Motorcycles at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance!
Breaking the barrier
Known as the “Bathing Suit Bike,” this 1948 Vincent Lightning was ridden to fame by a scantily-attired Roland “Rollie” Free when he hit 150.313mph riding it at Bonneville. It’s now owned by Herb Harris of Austin, Texas.
Photo by John Landstrom
For the past 59 years, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance has been considered the most prestigious classic car event in North America. And not just any car gets in, as the classics chosen to appear at Pebble Beach, Calif., are culled from the finest collections from around the world by a jury of automotive judges and historians.
Only the very best examples of the most rare, beautiful and significant motor cars are considered for display at Pebble Beach, so to exhibit here is to reach the top of the collector car hobby.
This year, for the first time ever, motorcycles were included in the Pebble Beach Concours. This was a milestone event in the collector motorcycle hobby, which has struggled for years to attain the same high profile respect that’s been afforded to classic cars for decades.
Famed marques such as Vincent, Triumph, AJS, BSA, Brough Superior and Ariel shared the field with iconic automotive classics like Duesenberg, Bugatti, Ferrari, Packard and Rolls Royce. As leather jackets brushed elbows with silk blazers, everyone had one thing in common, a mutual admiration for fine machinery. Pebble Beach is more than a car show, it’s a place to make a fashion statement, a place to declare one has arrived, and a place to appreciate and admire the finest rolling art that the designers, engineers and craftsmen of the 20th century have ever produced.
The Concours comes at the conclusion of a week’s worth of motoring activities; there are the Historic Races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, The Quail Motorsports Gathering, Concorso Italiano (which also includes Italian motorcycles), five major auctions, and the 60-mile Tour d’Elegance. These are all significant events in their own right, but the event that everyone waits for is the Pebble Beach Concours.
At the crack of dawn on show day, cars — and now motorcycles — were driven onto the lawn and the 18th fairway of the Pebble Beach Lodge overlooking the Pacific Ocean. With their headlights barely breaking through the heavy morning fog, 175 cars and a handful of motorcycles struggled to find their designated places. The sound and sight of ancient engines churning to life, belching smoke through open exhaust pipes, and the smell of burning fossil fuels was enough to make any gear head’s hair stand up straight.
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