Ex-John Edgar Speed Record Vincent HRD Subject of New Documentary

August 11, 2012. The John Edgar Lightning’s return the Bonneville Salt Flats, photographed by Zach Siglow.

It’s back! Sixty-five years after Rollie Free wore his “aerodynamic” bathing trunks to ride John Edgar’s Vincent HRD Black Lightning prototype (“JEL”) on the Bonneville Salt Flats for a Motorcycle Class A land speed record of 150.313 mph, the bike recently returned to Bonneville for Alain De Cadenet to ride this same motorcycle in demonstration for a television documentary, now in its final stage of production, about the bike, Mr. Free and Mr. Edgar, focusing on how the historic speed record was accomplished.

Produced and directed by Zach Siglow for Lenny Shabes’ WATV in Culver City, California, the documentary draws on period film footage and archived photographs, as well as original video and on-camera interviews with key people associated with the JEL and its history.  Associate Producer “Landspeed Louise” Noeth’s comment on the iconic 1000-cc Vincent V-Twin ranks spot-on: “This bike to motorcyclists is what the Excalibur was to the knights.”

William E. (Chip) Connor, present owner of the JEL, took his historic Vincent to its birth country England for the inaugural Windsor Castle Concours d’Elegance (September 7-8-9, 2012), while the documentary aims for completion early in 2014.  As the program’s Consulting Producer, I’ll post updates here regarding this program about the world’s most famous motorcycle that my father called his “Mean Machine”.  Early in 1948, John Edgar ordered the bike built by the HRD factory in Hertfordshire.  After Rollie’s daring record-setting passes on it at Bonneville, I enjoyed the occasional thrill of riding the JEL on the road.

September 13, 1948. John Edgar (far left) watches as Rollie Free (center) and crew prepare his British-built JEL motorcycle for its 150.313 mph speed record on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

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