2006 Legend of the Motorcycle

Concours d'Trs Elegance

By Barry Burke, Photography by Bob DeKome

The Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay played host to the inaugural Legend of the Motorcycle International Concours d'Elegance, a premier charitable event benefiting Special Olympics, Roots Initiative and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, on May 6-7. Half Moon Bay is located 30 minutes south of San Francisco on a spectacular cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean that feels more European than Californian. The event was conceived and planned over the last two years by Jared Zaugg and Brooke Roner, with a goal of introducing a venue where enthusiasts could gather to take pride in the rolling artwork that represents the history of motorcycles and motorcycle culture. Modeled after the Pebble Beach automotive concours, this two-day event included a world-class show, a riding tour and the coveted Steve McQueen award.

A variety of classes was represented, each with an award to recognize the Best of the Best. The different categories ranged from early period bikes (1900-1929) to mid-century (1930-1957) and modern period (1958-1975). In addition, a full range of special category awards was also presented. The awards were decided by a panel of distinguished judges including Mike Jackson, Oriol Puig Bulto, Malcolm Clube, Paul d'Orleans and Mert Lawwill, while the Master of Ceremonies was Alain de Cadenet. Credit should go to the promoters for having the vision to execute such a fine show, and for assembling a host of sponsors including Kiehl's, Hennessey, Forbes, Cartier and Cohiba.

There were 200 machines on display, stretching from early vintage to a one-off, radial-engine chopper built by Jesse James. The bikes literally came from all over the world; in fact, one of the winners was from Germany. Just as there was a variety of motorcycles, there was an even wider variety of people attending the event: sportbike riders and chopper riders; men and women; 80-year-olds and 10-year-olds; all with a passion for motorcycling.

The exhibit was a time capsule of two-wheeled history. Whether it was a veteran machine from the teens, one of Steve McQueen's personal bikes or a 1970s Bultaco Pursang 250, every motorcycle told a tale. You could feel the pride exuded by each bike's owner, who, more often than not, was standing beside it. When you get a chance to talk to someone who owns one of these rare pieces of art, you feel a true passion for the art of motorcycling.

Although there were a number of trophies, the most unique was the Steve McQueen Award presented to the motorcycle that most captured what the late actor would have thought exemplified "cool." This award was decided upon and awarded by Barbie McQueen, Steve's widow, plus actors Ewan McGregor and Peter Fonda. The winner was a 1928 Cleveland 4-Cylinder Racer owned by Jim Lattin, who received a sculpture from legendary sculptor Jeff Decker. In addition to designing the awards, Decker had several of his artistically created bronze sculptures on display. Seeing one of the sculptures in person adds a whole new dimension of detail and workmanship no photograph could capture. Consistent with the theme of the Legend of the Motorcycle, his pieces capture the unique art of motorcycling and motorcycle culture.

To get a taste of the Legend of the Motorcycle experience, check out the website www.legendofthemotorcycle.com. Mark your calendar for next year's dates and book your hotel early, because with the success of this inaugural event, next year's should be even more exceptional.

Special Category Awards

Best of Show: 1940 Crocker Big Tank - Mike Madden

People's Choice Award:1920 Indian Scout Munro Special - Tom Michael

Steve McQueen Award:1928 Cleveland 4-Cylinder Racer - Jim Lattin

Industry Award:1923 BMW R32 - Evan Bell

Sculptor's Award:1915 Cyclone Board Track Racer - Jim Lattin

Men's Vogue Award: 1954 Vincent Black Shadow - Gene Brown

Gil Nickel Adventurer Award:1934 Brough Superior SS-100 - Alan Kunovsky

Founder Award:1921 Mars - Mike Kron

Lifetime Achievement Award:Otis Chandler

By Barry Burke
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