For his incredible feat out on the salt flats of Bonneville Rollie was inducted into the motorcycle hall of fame. His Vincent later went on to also reach celebrity status when it was auctioned for a cool 1 million US dollars, making it, at the time of the auction, the world’s most expensive motorcycle.
As part of a new series called ‘Legends of Speed’ Return of the Cafe Racers has collaborated with illustrator Pedro Oyarbide to produce the ‘Bathing Suit Bike’ pin inspired by Rollie’s incredible feat 68 years ago. The 45mm pin depicts Rollie in his famous prone position rocketing off into the history books. The jacket pin is the first of 4 designs to be released in the coming months and can be purchased now from 100mph.com.au
“On the hard-packed Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah a 47-year-old Filling-station operator named Roland Free went out on Sept. 13 to break the world’s motorcycle speed record. Riding a British ‘Vincent’ machine on which British drivers have hit 140mph.
Free roared down a mile course clocked by electric-eye timers. As a guide during his run Free used a black line painted on the flat, although his speed was so great the motorcycle’s steering column ‘locked’ and he was unable to deviate from a straight line until he slowed down. By balancing himself on the rear fender to reduce the drag down, Free upped the mark to 150.313 and lived to tell about it.”- LIFE Magazine
It was on September 13, 1948, when Roland “Rollie” Free lay prone along the spine of his Vincent HRD, wearing nothing more than a shower cap, bathing shorts, and sneakers. His land speed run on the Bonneville Salt Flats of 150.313 mph earned him a place in the record books, but the photograph of him, in his unorthodox attire, has become one of the most iconic images in sporting history.