Concours d’Elegance: The making of a legend 

Last year at about this time, more than 4,500 motorcycle aficionados descended upon the manicured lawns of The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay for the first annual Legend of the Motorcycle: International Concours d’Elegance, a celebration of all things motorcycle — design, style and classic motorcycle history, pre-1976.

Celebrities such as Peter Fonda, Ewan McGregor and Steve McQueen’s son Chad showed up. Vintage motorcycle owners from all over the world congregated — many of who were vying for the event’s top honor, the God of Speed award. And thousands of others drove or rode their bikes to Half Moon Bay, just 25 miles south of San Francisco, to ooh and ahh at rows of classic bikes on display from around the world.

The event — much more museum exhibition than motorcycle rally — was so successful in its first year that it has returned for its second, and will again be hosted in Half Moon Bay at the Ritz Carlton from May 4 to 6. There will be many visitors from around the world attending — but if you are going to make a day trip, definitely plan on being there May 5, at which time the concourse will be set up on the 18th hole of the Half Moon Bay Golf Links overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

For those unfamiliar with this concourse — but interested in motorcycles, Hollywood and rock ’n’ roll — the event was conceived by motorcycle lovers Jared Zaugg and Brooke Roner, San Franciscans who were inspired by success the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the Monterey peninsula’s annual four-wheeled beauty pageant to determine the best-restored classic cars, and the success of "The Art of the Motorcycle," an exhibit hosted by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum during the summer of 1998.

"Jared and I both loved going to the Pebble Beach concours," said Roner, a marketing and advertising professional, who also happens to be married to Zaugg. "We had also gone to the Guggenheim exhibit on the history of motorcycle — and the success of that show demonstrated that there was a real love for the art of motorcycling.

"Then we asked ourselves — why isn’t there anything like this for motorcycles? A forum for people who like to collect motorcycles?"

The couple solicited feedback from the international motorcycling community — and got overwhelming support, Roner said. As a result, she and Zaugg decided to organize this event.

"We wanted it to be a destination to stay for the weekend," Roner said. "And we wanted it to be in California at the beginning of the motorcycling season — when people are itching to ride."

"We also wanted the event to take place in a luxury setting," she added. "In the same way Pebble Beach is the setting for classic cars, this weekend is the setting for classic motorcycles."

Entering its second year, the concours will showcase more than 300 classic motorcycles, including three featured brands — Vincent, Henderson and Excelsior. Visitors, she noted, will not want to miss Rollie Free’s Vincent HRD Black Lightning, which he rode across Utah’s Bonneville Sale Flats at over 150 miles per hour to break a decade-old speed record in September 1948.

To minimize wind resistance, she added, this American motorcycle racer rode the bike while balanced flat on his stomach on the motorcycle’s back spine in nothing but a bathingsuit and a pair of tennis shoes — an iconic image in the world of motorcycling.

In addition, visitors will also want to check out a special display of historic Japanese bikes as well as a display of Isle of Man bikes, commemorating the 100 years that the legendary Isle of Man Tourist Trophy race has been in existence.

In terms of judging whose bike is well, the most spectacular — the concours will have a variety of winners — including the recipient of the God of Speed bronze trophy, which was designed by renowned sculptor Jeff Decker for the event. First place, as well as other prizes, will be based on judging set by several international standards, such as original condition and historically accurate restoration.

Other award categories include the 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award, which will be presented to Willie G. Davidson, senior vice president and chief styling officer of Harley-Davidson Motor Company, for his invaluable contribution to the world of motorcycling; the Steve McQueen Award, judged by Chad McQueen and a Hollywood celebrity for the motorcycle that best represents the "king of cool;" the Elvis Award, judged by a musician for the entry that best represents the King of Rock and Roll; the Industry Award judged by motorcycle executives; and the People’s Choice Award.

Like at Pebble Beach, Legend of the Motorcycle will also host an auction with proceeds will be donated to charity (Arzu, the Boys & Girls Club of America and Roots Initiative).

The event, which will be held on the grounds of the Ritz Carlton, Half Moon Bay, is open to the public. Tickets are $50 per person ($65 on the day of the event), and include access to all of the events. Children are welcome, and kids under 12 years old are free when accompanied with a parent.

If you are driving to the event, you will need to park in a designated lot in Half Moon Bay, where complimentary shuttles will transport you to andfrom the event. If you plan to ride to the event, there will be special designated motorcycle parking along Miramontes Boulvard leading up to the resort.


» Friday, May 4

6 p.m.: Bonhams & Butterfields Auction Preview (for registered bidders)

7 p.m.: Half Moon Bay Reception (for entrants and their guests)

» Saturday, May 5 - Concours Day

10 a.m.-4 p.m.: Open to the public with ticket purchase

Noon: Charity Auction

2-4 p.m.: Awards Ceremony

4:30 p.m.: Bonhams Motorcycle Auction

7:30 p.m.: Men’s Vogue Movie Night (by invitation)

» Sunday, May 6

8:30 a.m.-noon: Tour of Legends (for motorcycles in the concours)


Event information may be found at Tickets are $50 in advance ($65 on concours day) and may be purchased through the Web site. Children ages 12 and under are admitted complimentary when accompanied by an adult. Admission includes parking, shuttle, program guide, and access to the concours d'elegance and associated displays.

About The Author

Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
Pin It

Speaking of Entertainment

More by Staff Report

Latest in Other Arts

© 2019 The San Francisco Examiner

Website powered by Foundation