The Boozefighters Motorcycle Club (BFMC) was formed by ex-servicemen just returned from World War II. They were young men whose lives had been interrupted by the horrors of war. They were looking for excitement and craving fun. But more importantly, they were longing for the Brotherhood they previously had while serving with other men on the worlds battlefields. They gravitated together through these desires and also the commonality of motorcycles. The growth and bonds between the Members of the Boozefighters Motorcycle Club was almost immediate.
“Wino” Willie Forkner is recognized to be the founder of the Boozefighters Motorcycle Club. Having been kicked out of The 13 Rebels Motorcycle Club for rowdy behavior, he decided to create a new Motorcycle Club. Along with four other Originals, he established the BFMC in 1946 at the All American Café, Los Angeles, California. Boozefighters gained notoriety due to their participation at the infamous Gypsy Tour in Hollister, California during the July 4, 1947 weekend. This event was immediately immortalized by a photograph in Life Magazine and later in the movie “The Wild One,” which starred Marlon Brando. Lee Marvin portrayed the part of “Wino Willie”. Because of the events of that weekend, and the public sensationalism, Hollister is renowned as the birth place of the American Biker. And, the Boozefighters Motorcycle Club is recognized as one of those Motorcycle Clubs that is responsible for this.
At the time of Hollister, there were three Chapters of Boozefighters in California; Los Angeles, San Pedro, and San Francisco. The Boozefighters Motorcycle Club was one of the very first MCs to have multiple Chapters. Boozefighters from the very beginning had but a few desires: Ride, Party, and Brotherhood. For many of the earliest Originals, the BFMC created life long bonds. This is symbolized by the acronym OWOF (Original Wild Ones Forever). Currently, the Boozefighters Motorcycle Club is one of the oldest active Motorcycle Clubs in existence. There are chapters across the United States and abroad in numerous countries. “It’s the Boozefighters long rich history and traditions that are preserved in the spirit of true Brotherhood.”
One of the icons in the motorcycle history books would undoubtedly be Wino Willie Forkner. Being on the Pacific Tramp during a war time presented a need to fill a void when he returned home. Through stories captured in the naming of the Boozefighters Motorcycle Club, drinking excessively on July 4th, 1947, and creating a serious movement for change after war... Wino Willie was always a center of focus. Follow Wino through the history and see his affect on the way everyone sees the motorcycle world.
Vern Autrey was all of the toughness and pure NO-BS grit and determination of an entire generation. Vern had the stature of a 1940’s middleweight boxer that’s just hard to come by in this day of age. The spirit of brotherhood was intense in Vern’s eyes when he relived the early days of the biker lifestyle. Vern was also into speed. There was a time when a Vincent Black Shadow came up for sale in San Diego and Vern drove from LA to buy it. When he got there the SOB sold it out from under him. Vern tells stories of the good old days- said we get thrown in Jail from time to time for speeding or being drunk but nothing worse than that! Vern was known for being a prankster as well. When Bobby Kelton got his new Triumph, Jim & Vern would sneak out and add extra gas in his tank and make him think he was getting better fuel mileage than expected. Then, a few weeks later they would go out and drain gas out of his bike. They had fun at Bobby’s expense as he started to cry about how Brit bikes are “get” at first and then fall to crap in no time. To put it into perspective, Vern was a Brother that lived each and every day to it’s fullest. One of the most famous photos ever connected with the Boozefighters is of Vern Autrey (right) and Fat Boy Nelson (left) sitting on their parked bikes drinking beer. It was used in an article in Cyclist magazine entitled “Take over the town of Riverside”. The only problem was that the picture wasn’t taken in Riverside. This photo was in Hollister July 4th, 1947. .