Memorial Day Weekend marks the 25th Anniversary of Rolling Thunder in Washington, D.C., an annual motorcycle Demonstration Run that attracts over 450,000 motorcycles and one million attendees. To commemorate this honorary event, four custom motorcycles will be built by four legendary bike builders. Through a collaborative effort between Rolling Thunder and Jay Allen (creator of the Broken Spoke Saloon) the selection of custom builders is as follows. Brigitte Bourget, Billy Lane, Mike Tomas, Dar Holdsworth. “We selected these fine builders and luckily they snapped up the opportunity to build the 4 bikes that will represent each specific branch of the military,” said Jay.
Brigitte Bourget was the very first person to accept this project. She and the gang at Bourgets are very excited about the tribute build and anxious to get started on the Marine bike. Billy Lane has already fabricated a jig out of scrap aluminum and awaiting delivery of the tubing and sheet metal to begin building the Air Force bike from scratch. Kiwi Mike is so excited that Indian will be represented alongside S&S Cycle and Baker Drivetrain American V-Twin Bikes. He’s building his Coast Guard tribute bike based upon a 1945 Indian Chief and he’s hoping to ride the bike to the Rolling Thunder Anniversary event for the unveiling. And word is that Kiwi Mike is collaborating with Ron Finch on the build. Dar Hodsworth is a military veteran of Desert Storm, is especially dedicated to the build. There is one custom part going onto the Navy bike that requires such intense fabrication that it’s valued at over $8,000.
Jay Allen, creator of the legendary Broken Spoke Saloon, is facilitating the tribute build project. Allen’s custom built U.S. Army bike, featuring an S&S Cycle engine and Baker Drivetrain transmission, inspired the bike build concept. Since hitting the asphalt nationwide with his tribute U.S. Army bike, it has received more attention than a $100,000 custom motorcycle. This, in turn, compelled Rolling Thunder to complete the ultimate show of respect by reaching out to some of the world’s top bike builders to complete the military recognition to include all branches of the service.
Rolling Thunder is extremely grateful to the Correctional Facility at Avon Park for allowing Billy to pay the ultimate tribute to the Air Force. “The commemorative bike build is such a great idea and it’s one of the better things we’ve ever done. It’s the builders giving back to veterans and troops and all branches of the service with this project. We’re very grateful to the sponsors and everyone involved for their generous support and recognition of Rolling Thunder’s efforts,” said Ted Shpak, President of Rolling Thunder, Washington D.C, Inc.
The bikes will be unveiled at the 25th Anniversary event on May 26th and the entire build process will be featured in motorcycle publications. Brigitte Bourget Bike Works U.S. Marine Corp motorcycle will be featured in IronWorks magazine. Chopper’s Inc Billy Lane Air Force bike will be featured in The Horse Backstreet Choppers. Kiwi Indian Mike Tomas U.S. Coast Guard bike will be featured in American Iron. Darwin Motorcycles Dar Holdsworth U.S. Navy bike will be featured in Cycle Source.
The major function of Rolling Thunder®, Inc. is to publicize POW-MIA issues, to educate the public that many American Prisoners of War were left behind after all previous wars and to help correct the past and to protect future Veterans from being left behind should they become Prisoners of War-Missing In Action. They are also committed to helping American Veterans from all wars. Rolling Thunder, Inc. is a non-profit organization and everyone donates his or her time because they believe in the POW/MIA Issues that we are working on. Expenditures exceed over half a million dollars a year, nationwide, to educate the public and increase awareness about the POW/MIA issue and other injustices suffered by veterans. Rolling Thunder Charities, Inc. spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in financial aid, food, clothing and other essentials to veterans, homeless veterans and veterans’ families in need, women’s crisis centers and toys for children.