Its been several years since noted Indian Historian author, Jerry Hatfield, has written a book for the Indian motorcycle market. But this book is more than Indians; its a life story of a man who loved motorcycles. According to Jerry this book has been stewing for 20 years just waiting to be told. And told it is. In 1980 weeks before Rollie Free passed away Jerry was lucky enough to interview Free. Flat Out! The Rollie Free story is mostly told in Rollies own words, and what a story he has to tell. Rollie was a gentleman who disliked Harley Davidson with a passion. Upon reading the book you will learn why, and become mesmerized how he spent his life and the sacrifices he endured.
Rollie Free started his racing career in the 1920s. It was during this time that he realized that if he pushed back onto his stomach and extended his legs he would be able to gain considerable speed. This is what would become his famous Flat Out or prone riding position. It was during his early racing years that Rollie soon became upset at Harley Davidson and wanted to get even with them by beating them legally in racing, any way he could. Why was he mad at Harley? Youll have to read the book to find out.
It was this one mistake that Harley made, that helped the Indian Motorcycle Company. Because in Free, they had one man who was dedicated to embarrassing the Milwaukee company. I can beat the Harley beach record with my wife on back of the machine double I never had a gentlemans bet with a Harley rider in my life! said Free.
Free soon became an Indian dealer in Indiana, where he turned a bankrupt dealership into one who outsold the local Harley dealer. In his mind, there never was a Harley Davidson that was any good nor an Indian that was lacking. It was this conviction that drove him and his dealership to succeed. While living in Indianapolis, Free was invited to drive in the famous Indy 500 in 1930. In his later years this early experience would allow him to once again drive in this famous race.
For a man who was extremely successful in everything he touched it is amazing that in 1942, at 42 years old Rollie joined the army to help with the war effort. During his time in the service, he helped a lot. With his mechanical knowledge, he was able to help shorten the repair time on B-24 bomber planes from 8,000 man-hours to half that figure. Once again his dedication and passion shine through. Its these details that make his story so interesting.
In conclusion, Flat Out! The Rollie Free story is hardbound, 179 pages with hundreds of great never seen before photographs. You will spend hours just examining the photographs for the details on the motorcycles. You will learn about Rollies passion in building, tuning Indians, and racing. This will be a book you will not set down until finished! The unexpected added bonus to this book is an audio CD of Jerry Hatfields interview with Rollie Free. Rollie is such a great storyteller that your only wish is the CD would be longer! A story like this does not come around often, and the reader will come away with a sense of fulfillment that Rollie Free lived his life to be the fastest! Flat Out!