Motorcycles get their own Concours d'Elegance

June 16, 2006|by ARV VOSS / Motor Matters

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. - On the lush coastal lawns of the Ritz-Carlton that rival the rugged beauty of St. Andrews in Scotland, and on a glorious day in May, entrants and spectators from five continents gathered to pay homage to the Legend of the Motorcycle.

It marked the first-ever world-class International Concours d'Elegance devoted exclusively to the display, judging and appreciation of motorcycles.

From racers to builders, celebrities to owners, enthusiasts to the curious, Legend of the Motorcycle brought together a unique combination of people for a one-day, world-class event celebrating vintage and classic two-wheeled machines.

Jared Zaugg and Brooke Roner co-founded the historic premiere extravaganza. Stated Roner, "I think the resounding support shown for this event, by way of entrants, attendees and sponsors, demonstrates the profound effect the motorcycle has had on popular culture and the growing interest it commands in the world today." The event demonstrated that a forum for motorcycles, on par with the best automotive Concours, was long overdue.


More than 250 motorcycles took the field, ranging from an 1895 Pennington from British Columbia to a 2005 KTM Moto GP factory racer from Austria. Only bikes produced prior to 1976 were judged, though many later models were exhibited representing the motorcycle's evolution - essentially, nearly every facet of the motorcycle sport and culture enjoyed representation.

The featured bikes were the Brough Superior and Crocker. The Crockers in attendance represented the largest display in the world in one meeting, while the Brough Superiors amounted to the biggest-ever U.S. gathering. Celebrity displays included motorcycles formerly owned by Elvis Presley, Steve McQueen and Roy Rogers. Concept and racing bikes, as well as a chopper display from renowned custom builders Arlen Ness and Jesse James of California and Shinya Kimura of Japan, were part of the show, as were historic pedigree machines from the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum's venerable collection based in Ohio.

Judging categories consisted of: Early Period: 1800s-1929 Factory Production and Competition/Modified with both American and European classes; Mid-Century: 1930-1957 with the same classes; and Modern Period: 1958-1975, again with the same class differentiations as well as an added Asian-Pacific/Other classification.

Chief judge Mike Jackson from England pointed out that judging was based on a reverse process to the traditional auto Concours process, where each vehicle begins with 100 points and points are deducted for discrepancies. Jackson quipped that judging was actually based upon the "size of the bribe" before explaining that he and his staff of 13 judges began with the "basket case" premise, and added points for originality, authenticity, motor running, ridability and proper accessories.

A special charity auction was conducted by Bonham & Butterfields, wherein the custom Triumph Scrambler 900 ridden by actor Tom Cruise in the movie, "Mission Impossible III" and donated by Triumph Motorcycles, sold for $12,500. Several other collectible items were auctioned or raffled off, with all proceeds benefiting charitable organizations such as the Special Olympics; Boys & Girls Clubs of America; and the Roots Initiative.

In addition to first-, second- and third-place class awards, special awards included Best of Show, received by a 1940 Crocker owned by Mike Fadden of California; the Steve McQueen Award, won by a 1928 Cleveland Racer owned by Jim Lattin, also of California, conferred by actors Ewan McGregor and Peter Fonda, along with Barbara Minty McQueen. Photos and a complete list of this year's class winners and sponsors are available at

Planning for next year's second annual Legend of the Motorcycle, which promises to be bigger and better, has already begun. It will again be held at the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on the first Saturday in May. It is a mandatory pilgrimage for the true motorcycle enthusiast.

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2006

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