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San Benito
April 14, 2024

New council brings wave of support for biker rally

With new Hollister City Council members on board, there is growing support for another revival to the Hollister Motorcycle Rally.

While there are varying levels of support, not one current Hollister council member is against the rally – the city’s one-again, off-again event commemorating a 1947 “invasion” of the town that was portrayed in The Wild One starring Marlon Brando.

Hollister last held a sanctioned motorcycle rally in 2017 when Reno-based Roadshows Inc. promoted it for the city. The city has canceled and revived the rally several times since the 1997 50th anniversary event that got the annual event rolling and drew crowds estimated at over 100,000 attendees some years.

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Mayor Ignacio Velazquez has been a longtime supporter of the sanctioned rally, but now has fellow supporters like Councilwoman Honor Spencer and Councilman Rolan Resendiz on his side. Two other council members, Carol Lenoir and Marty Richman, told San Benito Live they would support a rally under certain conditions.

“I think it should be organized and sponsored similar to what goes on with the (Gilroy) Garlic Festival, by a nonprofit group who’d be responsible for it,” Richman said.

Richman also believes the location must be more controlled than just holding it on San Benito Street where it’s been held traditionally. Using a private venue also would open up more prospects to use less costly private security, Richman believes.

Lenoir said she has “come to terms” with the rally, but her only issue at this point is the question whether the city maintains workmen’s compensation liability for outside law enforcement officers.

“If they find a way to insure or bond and we don’t have that liability, I don’t have a problem with the event,” Lenoir said.

Spencer was supportive but has a goal of holding a sanctioned rally in 2020 at this point since there are only five months left before July 4.

“I would love to see the rally come back. I’d like to find a promoter who will be with us for a while, not just one year,” Spencer said. “I’d prefer to find somebody who’s going to stay with us for five years at the least.”

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The mayor, meanwhile, remained open to a rally this year in the event a promoter stepped up to do it.

“If a promoter came up, I’m 100 percent behind bringing back the rally,” Velazquez said. “If a promoter would step up, I’d be more than happy to be talking to them about it.”

One of the issues for promoters has been lagging sponsorship revenue with the downtown of the motorcycle industry in recent years. Velazquez said the city has to “make it reasonable for the promoter,” while the biggest cost by far for any promoter has been law enforcement.

The mayor has a feeling there’s support on the council and in the community for a rally return.

“I would think the majority of the council does support it now,” he said. “I don’t know, but I think most of the community feels the same way. We should have done our best to keep it here in the first place.”

Resendiz also supports a rally but doesn’t expect anything “grandiose” this year due to time constraints.

“It’s part of our identity and our culture,” he said. “But it does have to make sense. It has to be sustainable. It has to be safe. It has to be enjoyable.”

He went on: “We want to have a model that’s going to be sustainable so we can do it year after year.”