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JEL Lightning (Rollie Free Bathing Suit Bike) Documentary needs VOC help.


New Forum Website User
Non-VOC Member
Hey Guys,
Do you ever watch those shows/documentaries and wonder "Why didn't they just ask someone that knows?" That is what I am doing here on your forum.

We are starting production on a documentary about the JEL Lightning and Rollie Free. The documentary will be profile the three distinctly different groups that all worked together to claim the record on the salt in 1948. It will feature John Edgar, the man who came up with the idea and paid for it, Philip Vincent and Phil Irving, I'm guessing you're familiar with these guys, and of course Rollie Free, the crazy bloke that rode the bike in his swim trunks at 150mph to claim the record.

We are in Los Angeles and our budget will likely not be able to take us to England. I am hoping that the VOC can help me track down some old footage or photos of the plant in Stevenage (shots of the production line, machines, bikes, buildings etc...) I am also looking for photos or footage of Phil Irving and Philip Vincent we can use in the documentary. I would also love to know what books, magazines and publications you think I must read to get the real Vincent story. I have read everything I can get my hands on in researching this project, but I know you guys know more than me and would love to hear from you.

Thank you,
Zach Siglow
WATV Productions
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Active Forum Website User
Non-VOC Member
Rollie Free

In the Seventies, I wrote the official history of the HRD and Vincent era in collaboration with H R Davies, Phil Vincent, Phil Irving, Rollie Free, Ted Davis, Paul Richardson, George Brown, Jack Williams, Bob Burns et al. I've letters and photos from them all and will be pleased to help. Roy Harper. roy@royharper.wanadoo.co.uk


Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
I'm guessing you have already contacted Mike Parti in North Hollywood? He has a collection of Rollie's personal memroabilia and was a close friend of Rollie.
Cheers, John Ulver


Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
Also you might want to talk to Marty Dickerson, he knew Rollie Free back in the day, he lives in CA



Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member

You should talk to Jerry Hatfield, who had the last interview with Rollie, and get Jerry's book "Flat Out."


You should also be aware that although you are speaking about the Edgar bike, which was F10AB/1B/900, some may confuse it with the Rollie Free Lightning, which is F10AB/1C/3688. After Rollie rode the Edgar bike he ordered one for himself and went to Bonneville again. Some do not realize this and conflate the stories.



Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
I recommend contacting the So Cal Chapter of the VOC. our crest is of the famous shot and I know there are many members who got an opportunity to know Rollie Free. Check out the So Cal VOC blog and shoot me an email and I can elaborate.



Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
And do not forget the archivist of the Vincent owners club he has pictures by the dozen


Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
Better yet, do a documentary on the living legend Dave Matson. Still racing at Bonneville and is still the fastest Vincent rider ever and still has a record. Plus, Dave's a genuinely nice guy... I think the Free story has been overdone. The bike isn't that exciting, just a B Shadow. The speed (150 mph)has been duplicated many times since, no big deal. I think Dave got near 230mph, and that is a big deal. Just a thought. Dan
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