13 REBELS M.C.
AMA # 2182
The 13 Rebels Motorcycle Club (13 RMC) was started in 1937 by Ernest “Tex” Bryant. “Tex” and the other 12
top-seated motorcycle racers from Southern California made up the founding members of the club. The 13 Rebels
MC was, and still is, an American Motorcycle Association (AMA) sanctioned club. While not the oldest motorcycle
club in the U.S (that being the Yonkers MC of Yonkers, NY established in 1903), the 13 RMC has a rich racing and
colorful history that has shaped some of this sports historic motorcycle “folklore”.
Some of the club’s legendary members include Shell Thuet, who raced and built many independent and factory-
sponsored racing bikes throughout the years; John and Ernie Roccio, who raced in the U.S. as well as on the U.S.
Motorcycle Racing Team throughout Europe during the 1950’s; William “Wino Willie” Forkner, who left the
13 Rebels MC in 1946 and started the Boozefighters MC and Elmo Looper who was better known for saving
Croker Motorcycle from extinction by buying what was left of Croker Motorcycle parts from AL Croker. Many of
these parts have helped otherwise unrestorable motorcycles come back to life.
One of the original “biker” movies named The Wild One was based on a fictitious story of the 13 Rebels and
Boozefighters meeting in a small town in northern California. Following is how both clubs were cast--The
“Black Rebels” MC, with Marlin Brando playing “Johnny” (Shell Thuet), the 13 Rebels’ president; and the
“Beetles” MC, with Lee Marvin playing the part of “Chino” (Wino), the Boozefighters’ president. The movie
was loosely based on “Wino” having left the 13 Rebels and starting his own club (the Boozefighters). This
incorrectly illustrated that the 13 Rebels and Boozefighters did not get along after that incident. The truth is
that both clubs got along fine and, actually, hung out at the same watering hole in South Central Los Angeles, CA
called the “All American Café”.
The movie then went on to depict an infamous incident that Life magazine wrote an article on which happened at
the annual “Hollister”, CA AMA-sponsored motorcycle races. The July 4, 1947 event was the first post WW II
race at Hollister. Most of the California clubs where there, including the 13 Rebels and the Boozefighters. The
movie falsely depicted the bikers “taking over” the town and terrorizing the local citizens.
The truth in fact was much less exciting with some of the event participants getting drunk in public and racing up
and down Main Street on their bikes.
The 13 Rebels Motorcycle Club is still in existence today with chapters in various states. The Club is still sanctioned
by the AMA. It has been awarded the organization’s “historical status”, meaning the club has been verified by the
AMA as being over 50 years old. The 13 Rebels MC exists to carry on the spirit and tradition of the original
motorcycle clubs. We are a family-oriented motorcycle club bound by brotherhood, camaraderie, and the love of
the sport of motorcycling.