Rolling Thunder 25th Anniversary Tribute Bike Build Features Four Legendary Builders (Part 1)

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.

Zipper's

37 Responses to “Rolling Thunder 25th Anniversary Tribute Bike Build Features Four Legendary Builders (Part 1)”


  1. 1 Doc Robinson Jan 19th, 2012 at 6:43 am

    Before all you Billy Lane haters jump on this blog may I remind you that the purpose of prison is first and foremost to rehabilitate those incarcerated. Constructive work in a field a prisoner loves can only assist that. I’m very pleased also that Billy is able to exercise his talent and skills in the service of such an excellent cause as Rolling Thunder.
    But a Kiwi Mike and Ron Finch collaboration? I love both their work, but a collaboration between their two totally distinct styles seems a bit far-fetched. Although it did work for Arnie and Danny in Twins . . .

  2. 2 chopmonster66 Jan 19th, 2012 at 6:47 am

    This is a great thing that these builders are doing, congrats to all involved.

  3. 3 BossHawg Jan 19th, 2012 at 7:22 am

    Nice, very nice!

    Looking forward to seeing the builds, especially Bridgette’s and Billy Lanes.

    Boss Hawg

  4. 4 Gary Jan 19th, 2012 at 7:38 am

    Nothing against any builder, but except Billy Lane, the choice of others surprises me.

  5. 5 Hondo Cat Jan 19th, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Doc, you say that the purpose of prison is first and foremost to rehabilitate those incarcerated. That is not true. First and foremost prison is ordered by the court to get the perp off the streets. Rehabilitation is secondary and with budget cuts to correctional facilities these days, most of the rehabilitation occurs when the con is released on parole or post release supervision, as they call it now days.

    I’m more interested in what Mike and Dar build than the other two. Great cause for Rolling Thunder Charities, Inc. and the builders.

  6. 6 Tom Keefer/ Franklin Church Choppers Jan 19th, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Looking forward to following the builds, it is for a great cause!

  7. 7 Zipper Jan 19th, 2012 at 8:28 am

    Dear Doc, I do not hate Billy Lane or anyone else. I can only wonder how the people involved in the victims life feel about this. Personally after serving six years with the Air Force Having Billy Lane associated in any way does not leave me with a warm fuzzy feeling. ..Z

  8. 8 Brett Jan 19th, 2012 at 8:32 am

    People…please go & read up on Billy Lane’s case…the Morelock family is on very good terms with Billy Lane. They even stood up for him at his sentencing asking the judge to not give him jail time as they felt there were better ways for his to use his name & talent to lecture against drunk driving & doing things like this to raise money for charity.

    The Morelocks have forgiven Billy Lane & are close to him….maybe all you who were not effected by the crash should let it go, since the victim’s family has.

  9. 9 Brett Jan 19th, 2012 at 8:33 am

    Dear Zipper
    The Morelock family has forgiven Billy Lane & are on good terms with him, even asking the judge to not give him jail time.

    Maybe those not effected by the crash should learn to let it go & move on.

  10. 10 Mark Cooley Jan 19th, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Nothing against Billy Lane. But should he be one of the 4 builders when other builders with talent who never have been in trouble with the law deserve more work than him. Billy Lane is not an “example” to be associated with the Air Force and I am not sure many military people will appreciate his participation to this build off. At least, not until he pays in full his debt to society.

  11. 11 Kemper Jan 19th, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Billy Lane deserves a new chance when he is out. Not before. And if the man he killed while drunk was a vet? He could have been. Bad choice for Rolling Thunder. His participation is going to irritate many vets. .

  12. 12 David O. Jan 19th, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Good concept. Good cause. Billy Lane choice is wrong. I agree with the idea of him building a bike while being bars. But only for a theme bike related to his conviction (alcohol) and to be later auctioned to raise money for some sort of preventive education.

  13. 13 Mike Greenwald Jan 19th, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Rolling Thunder gets better every year. Hopefully, the readers support them.

    Billy Lane has talent as do all the other builders.

    Rather than criticize or proffer a tired, prohibition derived, second sentencing, step up and sieze the opportunity to support POW/MIA efforts. Realize that even in captivity, people have talent and skills. I am heartened to see that the idea of rehabilitation is not dead.

    I wish all that are participating, success during this endeavor.

    Mike

  14. 14 Jason Hallman Jan 19th, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Hey…this post is not about Billy Lane…it is about Rolling Thunder. Why do you sit at your computer and spit such hatred? Let it go. If you dislike Billy (I bet you don’t even know him) then go get your own BLOG and rip him there. Stop hi-jacking other blogs to post your opinions about a closed matter.

  15. 15 johnb Jan 19th, 2012 at 10:47 am

    What Billy did was wrong he did his time for it hope he learned something from it .now put that aside and give hem a chance to show off what he can do cant wate to see the bike come good ones doing it .the people forgave billy for it and if they can hope we all can.i hope he at lest found god while he was loocked up take care go billy good luck to u all

  16. 16 johnb Jan 19th, 2012 at 10:57 am

    what are they going to do go in the pirson and do the show

  17. 17 EricD Jan 19th, 2012 at 11:52 am

    As a vet both Army n Air Force, I tried to resist to post but have to put my 2cents in. Yes there are other builders out there, unfortunely the don’t hold the same attention grabbing name to the general public. What Billy did was wrong but stuff happens, bad stuff. He has done his time, actually still doing it. If anything him building will bring attention to POW/MIA and one great issue, drinking and driving. Anyone in the military knows the DnD is a huge problem that could use more attention, grabbing attention to make you think before you do. But unless you been there in that situation, it’s just words during weekly safety briefing. To the other two vets, you can’t ever tell me that you haven’t stopped by the club had a few, especially after a ceremony then drove. Don’t you think the same could have happened to you ? It’s easy to judge others, but judge yourself before you judge them.

    This will be something I look forward to following, since I can’t ride mine at the moment.

  18. 18 Jeff Nicklus Jan 19th, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Dar,

    Navy Bike …. REALLY? You are an Air Force guy, what is up with this Navy thing? LOL!

    The best to each of you, now go make us proud!

    Over & Out,

    Jeff

  19. 19 Amanda Jan 19th, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    I understand that four custom motorcycles will be built by four bike builders to commemorate this honorary event. I also realize that the entire build process will be featured in motorcycle publications.

    But what I didn’t read is who will own the bikes or what will be done with them after they are unveiled at the 25th Anniversary event on May 26th. Is there more to this story that I missed?

  20. 20 Brock Jan 19th, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    The Federal Parks department that runs the Vietnam War Memorial has a warehouse/museum where they catalog and save every single item left at the memorial. I know for a fact a group of vets built and left a chopper at the wall at one point and its in the museum/warehouse. Maybe these bikes will eventually by donated to the Memorial in the same manner.

    Jay Allen if I had to guess, will tour the bikes around the country for a year at different events, if he hasn’t lined up a corporate sponsor to do it already. Budweiser, Camel etc

  21. 21 Dar - Brass Balls Cycles Jan 19th, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    I was not going to chime in… but Jeff, you made me laugh pal. You are right. I am former Air Force. But the bike I was asked to build is the Navy bike. Though my first choice would have been Air Force, I’m honored to be part of this project. Besides… the NAVY deserves something cool too. I’ll try to do them justice. FYI, Both my grandfather & grandmother were in the Navy. My dad was Army (Vietnam). We are grateful to all who have served. These bikes will pay tribute to our soldiers, and when they tour around the Country, hopefully people will not focus on just the bikes… but be reminded that we have the freedoms to build these bikes and express ourselves in the United States of America as a result of the men & women who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms and the spirit of free enterprise.

    P.S. Each builder is building these bikes for free. Anyone willing to donate anything or any amount to help, pleases email me at evolve@DarwinMotorcycles.com

    Or you can contact the other builders and donate to help them also.

    Have a great year and God Bless.

  22. 22 Brea Jan 19th, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    I am afraid these builders fall into the “OCC Theme Bike” trap. Military theme bikes are usually ugly, look like cartoons on wheels.

  23. 23 Mike Tomas Kiwi Indian MC Co Jan 19th, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    I consider myself very fortunate to even have been asked to build a bike for the US services.
    When Jay called me I was honored and stepped up to the plate especially since the services can utilize the bikes at any time for the betterment of fellow human beings.
    If anyone else wants to build a bike as a support bike by all means do so. We are all equals and brothers and sisters as our common thread is motorcycles.
    My intention is to put together a trusty stock WWII Indian as a tribute bike to America’s past which in my case is the Coast Guard. Not an easy build by any means as it takes a huge amount of research and time to redo those special metal processes from back then. It also takes countless hours massaging original parts and bringing them back from the dead.
    At this point I intend to ride this bike from the Santa Monica Pier to Washington DC, no small feat considering its of WWII vintage but it will add another dimension to the build.

  24. 24 Hondo Cat Jan 19th, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Riding a stock WWII tribute Indian from Santa Monica to DC is not your typical OCC themed trailer queen. Enjoy the ride, Mike! Route 66 for part of the way East?

  25. 25 Mike Tomas Kiwi Indian MC Co Jan 19th, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Yes I’ll probably start out on Route 66 and then I’ll make my own route as I get rolling. I enjoy getting up in the morning, throwing the map of the USA on the breakfast table and making a route for the day. If I’ve got plenty of time to kill I’ll look for the most indirect route possible but I stay off the freeways. To see America one has to travel and eat on the back roads. I might even swing by Dar in OK to see if he’s done.
    Every bike I have ever built has been designed to ride. I state to my clients that you can jump on one of our Kiwi bikes in LA and ride it to NY without putting a spanner on it.
    Most builders have their own style and that’s what makes this so interesting. I’m a vintage guy and I enjoy bringing past history back to life for others to enjoy. And its for an awesome cause for awesome people.

  26. 26 Rogue Jan 20th, 2012 at 7:25 am

    I am a Air Force Veteran and I am happy that Billy is building that bike. The veterans I have talked to do not have a problem with it either.

    Billy’s DUI case is over, he is doing what the court ordered him to do. The Morelock family supports Billy.

    I do know the other builders as well and feel all will do a good job with their builds.

    To those that say there are many talented builders out there I agree BUT I suggest they follow what other have done and that is to build a motorcycle, photograph it, put it on the internet, send photos to motorcycle publications, enter the motorcycle in shows and then do it all over again just to prove the first time was not luck.. Repeat as many times as necessary until some one invites you to appear in their production.

    To those of you criticizing you could also put on your own production, but then again that is also a lot of work. Of course there will also be some complaining about that as well.

  27. 27 Jason Hallman Jan 20th, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Rogue…well said!

  28. 28 Branden Jan 20th, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    I fully support Billy he’s a good guy just made 1 mistake. It could have happened to anyone. Any one who has met him knows hes a nice guy. I was luck enough to met him in Laughlin and he was cool as fuck. His support of our armed forces is something he is very passionate about and Im glad we will get to see him build again

  29. 29 Daily Rider Jan 21st, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    @ Doc, you are a major Magazine in Australia. I would expect something more professional than a Billy Lane hate thread. granted he has made a few bad decisions but you know what in prision he is doing the time for his bad decisions.

    @ Brea, the reason you see all the tribute bikes as ugly cartoons on wheels is because that builders are now tied up in creating ART that the whole function of a motorcycle has been lost. try to keep an ope mind to not all tribute bikes are ugly cartoons.

    @ Kiwi Mike, I am glad that you are planning on riding your build across country. i get tired of seeing all the Hollywood builders and even these so called bikers trailer their bikes to evets posing as something big.

    This thread is a classic example of where this industry is going. in 5 years look back at this thread and think to yourself “Instead of complaining about the industry maybe I should try and change it.”

  30. 30 Pam and Wayne Jan 22nd, 2012 at 2:49 am

    Go Kiwi Mike,show how real Kiwi’s ride on reliable gear.

  31. 31 Hammer Jan 23rd, 2012 at 9:31 am

    I am honored to be covering Billy’s build. As a former Marine, I wish he were building the US Marine bike, but it’s all good. We will be meeting with Billy next week to discuss details. Steve Broyles has already sent a ton of parts/material down to him. Fab Kev has helped secure a welder that will remain there after the build to be used by all the inmates. The engine, tranny and primary are already staged there. Billy was a friend before he went in, remains a friend and will continue to be a friend. And as a former Marine who served in Cambodia, I have no problem with Billy being involved. If I were in a combat situation, or any conflict, I can count on Billy to watch my back, not stab me in it like those pious, self righteous posters who are so quick to criticize.

  32. 32 Branden Jan 23rd, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Well said Hammer. Please keep us posted

  33. 33 Dar-Brass Balls Cycles Jan 24th, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    Mike, I’d love to have you stop by. Heck, let’s just try to ride out ther together. We are building an S&S knuckle with Baker 5 speed and small gas tank. Though we will stop frequently, We will take it easy, take in the sites, and share a great time while making some good memories.

  34. 34 Mike Tomas Kiwi Indian MC Co Jan 27th, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Dar I’m in mate. Let’s throw all our gear on the bike and hit the road. That’s how the Coast Guard bike is being set up. No back up vehicles, no radio, no entourage, no GPS, paper maps, just man and machine.
    Next trip will be from San Diego to Alaska on the same bike.
    “Let’s ride”.

  35. 35 Kevin Phillips Feb 2nd, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    Simply outstanding. I found out through Billy’s sister. What and honor it is for these builders to pay tribute to the armed services. You know they will do it right. Shiny Side Up.

  36. 36 Slimey1 Feb 21st, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    Great cause and great builders all. I’m proud of Rolling Thunder and all the builders involved as well as other supporters.

    As far as Billy Lane being one of the builders,like the Good Book says…judge not lest you be judged. We all make mistakes,it’s how we go on after such mistakes that counts.

    And Hammer, THBC is the ONLY real bike magazine I would ever read.

    Choppers Rule!

  1. 1 Rolling Thunder 25th Anniversary Tribute Bike Build. Questions Answered (Part 2) at Cyril Huze Post – Custom Motorcycle News Pingback on Jan 22nd, 2012 at 11:00 am
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