Marty Dickerson’s 1948 Vincent Rapide Racer, aka ‘The Blue Bike,’ has a race history that extends almost 50 years including several records on the Salt Flats of Bonneville. We saw it at the Quail Motorcycle Gathering last year where Dickerson appeared to still be having visions of grandeur about the Salt aboard ‘The Blue Bike.’ The iconic motorcycle is currently up for sale and is on display in LA at a shop called Altai.
Marty Dickerson’s 1948 Vincent Rapide Racer, the record-setting motorcycle commonly referred to as “The Blue Bike,” is going up for sale. The 1948 Vincent is a “Series B Touring Rapide” whose racing resume stretches 50-years long. In its heyday, the Vincent earned a reputation as one of the fastest production motorcycles around racing just about all-comers from the streets of SoCal to the drag strips of the American Southwest.
The iconic motorcycle was purchased in 1948 by an 18-year-old Marty Dickerson. The 1948 Vincent Rapide first earned its reputation drag racing on the streets and in the dry lake beds around L.A. before Dickerson and the bike soon embarked on a tour across the southwest United States as part of a marketing ploy initiated by Vincent-HRD dealer Mickey Martin. It then headed to the fabled Salt Flats of Bonneville where it would set several American “Class C” records. Claimed to be in “as last raced” condition, “The Blue Bike” operated in its prime with small tricks learned from friend and fellow Vincent racer Rollie Free like using 10w oil in the engine, Lubriplate grease for the wheel bearings, and valve settings learned from Free. The duo worked together in Martin’s Vincent dealership and it was Free’s record-breaking exploits on his infamous Vincent Black Lightning that stoked the fire for Dickerson’s own Bonneville adventures, a run that started in the ‘50s and didn’t conclude until 1997 when Dickerson was 67.
At last year’s Quail Motorcycle Gathering, we happened to be marveling over the 1948 Vincent Rapide Racer known as “The Blue Bike” when they hooked it up to a charger and fired it to life. The pleasure of hearing that amazing engine drumming to life was almost indescribable, so we captured the moment in our 2012 Quail Motorcycle Gathering Review video to share with others (If you’d like to hear it, too, click on the video below). From what we understand, the man who owned the motorcycle at the time, Herb Harris, had only fired it up a couple of times over the course of the last ten years.
The “Blue Bike” is currently on display at an LA design studio called Altai. This engineering marvel and Bonneville record-breaker is an irreplaceable piece of motorcycling history claimed to be in “as last raced” condition, with all timekeepers’ seals intact. Though the motorcycle definitely deserves to be on display in a motorcycle museum, it was bred to be ridden with abandon and hopefully its new owner will keep that in mind and not stash it away in a personal collection and deny motorcycle aficionados the pleasure of hearing it spark to life once more.
*Sources – Paul d’Orleans well-articulated website, The Vintagent