Sometimes it takes a Southern Californian to throw a motorcycle party in San Francisco, and Roland Sands knows how to party. Along with his crew and the San Francisco police department, Sands organized the first annual Moto Bay Classic, held on Pier 32 under the iconic Bay Bridge on August 18. The skies were blue, the burnouts and beer were ample, and the cops were having just as much fun as the hooligans.

Gymkhana course
Cops versus hooligans on the gymkhana course.Erik Jutras

Sands has a personal stake in organizing a party like the Moto Bay Classic. As riders, we all do. Motorcycles are just machines, and the hard part is getting non-riders to take the leap of faith to get on board. Roland Sands Design sells hard goods and soft goods, and builds custom bikes for OEMS and Brad Pitt, among others.

Custom bike
The future of motorcycling, gazing upon a righteous custom.Erik Jutras
Moto Bay Classic
Dogs, kids, and sunshine. Who could ask for more?Joe Hitzelberger
Kid on bike
This kid will be contesting the Super Hooligan National Championship someday. What a cool dad!Joe Hitzelberger

If all we do is preach to the choir, our numbers dwindle. Sands created the Super Hooligan National Championship series last year to widen the net beyond professional flat track and up the entertainment value.

This year, the SHNC expanded to nine events, beginning with The One Show in February and ending with RSD's Moto Beach Classic in late October. Hailed as "The Greatest Show on Dirt," the Indian Motorcycle-sponsored SHNC races are contested by hustlers and cowboys on Harleys, Triumphs, Ducatis, and Indians, bikes that look cool and just might be the catalyst to turn around lagging sales.

Super Hooligan racing
Crowds were heavy to watch Super Hooligan racing throughout the day.Joe Hitzelberger
Alta Motors
San Francisco’s own Alta Motors tore around the course like silent lightning.Joe Hitzelberger
Frankie Garcia
Local racer Frankie Garcia wheelies his Scrambler Ducati off the line with vim and vigor.Joe Hitzelberger
Burnout rubber
The amount of burnout rubber laid down on Pier 32 could’ve impressed even MotoGP world champion Marc Márquez.Joe Hitzelberger

Burnouts by the Bay

So how did Sands pull off the Moto Bay Classic? In a city notorious for delaying permits and dragging its feet on a multitude of levels, it helped that the International Police Motor Skills Competition—one of the most challenging law enforcement skills competitions in the world—returned to the bay.

Cop going down
Too late to correct...Joe Hitzelberger
Minor wreck
Cop down!Joe Hitzelberger

Officers from a number of local and international law enforcement agencies competed against each other in the timed obstacle course throughout the days leading up to Saturday’s event—where they competed against hooligans before doing hot laps and burnouts on the oval.

Cops on Groms.Joe Hitzelberger
Mad skills
Next time you see a cop on a bike, remember these mad skills.Joe Hitzelberger
Kawasaki Z125
Mad cop skills on the Kawasaki Z125.Joe Hitzelberger
Police circling
The police circled the track to the joy of the crowd, running their sirens and lights while jostling for position, hooligan style.Joe Hitzelberger
Cops burning out
A glorious sight, watching cops do burnouts on their official cop bikes.Joe Hitzelberger

It’s been a busy year for Sands. Travis Pastrana got all nostalgically patriotic in Las Vegas in early July, upping his cool credentials—Nitro Circus style—by reincarnating Evel Knievel in a custom RSD costume on bikes tuned by RSD. A month later Sands was the grand marshal at the Sturgis Rally in South Dakota, where more Hooligan racing was held.

The Moto Bay Classic offered a bit of something for everyone, and I don't mean that as a lazy cliché. Kids had their own closed obstacle course, several custom bikes were displayed, Ducati had Scrambler demos rolling out all day, vendors from several top brands sold their wares, beer was flowing, and cops and hooligans were pals for the day. The soundtrack was provided by T.S.O.L., the Vandals, and Eagles of Death Metal, which boasts several members who ride.

Eagles of Death Metal
Three of the four members of Los Angeles-based Eagles of Death Metal ride motorcycles. Walter Ino (left), Jesse Hughes, and Jorma Vik. Bassist Jennie Vee’s time is taken with her beau Slim Jim Phantom, who was on hand to watch.Joe Hitzelberger

New lead guitarist Walter Ino and I bonded immediately, talking about his 1973 Honda CB450 and planning a ride in Los Angeles.

Our Sunday Moto Club arrived at 10:30 in the morning when the free motorcycle parking lot was nearly empty, and after a day chock-full of laughter, friendship, music, and all-around good times, we were the last to leave nearly 12 hours later. You could see the wide grins under everyone’s helmet after we hung out backstage with Jesse Hughes and EODM, before our bikes turned right onto the Embarcadero toward home.

Roland Sands puppy
Roland Sands was ringleader for a day.Joe Hitzelberger

Sands and I spoke a few days later at his shop in Los Alamitos. He was keen for feedback and constructive criticism, his voice finally returning to normal after several days of hootin’ and hollerin’ in San Francisco.

Bay Bridge
It was a day to party under the iconic Bay Bridge.Joe Hitzelberger

The first Moto Bay Classic wasn’t perfect (not enough shade, not enough food vendors, not enough volume on the race announcer’s mic, not a big enough crowd for EODM), but Sands is to be applauded for rallying the industry, wringing the best out of his crew, and pulling off a major motorcycle event in San Francisco.