The Motorcycle Portraits is a project by photographer/filmmaker David Goldman, who travels the world making documentaries, and takes time out to interview interesting people in the motorcycle scene, wherever he might be.  The result is a single exemplary photo, a geolocation of his subject, and a transcribed interview.  The audio of his interviews can be found on The Motorcycle Portraits website.

The following is a portrait session with Gordon McCall, the founder of The Quail, a Motorcycle Gathering, the McCall Motorworks Revival, and the The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering.  Gordon is brilliant at hosing a vehicle show that feels like a party.  Gordon basically created Monterey Car Week, after decades of working with the Pebble Beach Concours, then branching out on his own to create something more fun. David Goldman caught up with Gordon in Carmel Valley on January 21, 2022, and asked him a few questions about motorcycling: the following are his responses:

Gordon McCall photographed in his office in Carmel Valley CA. [David Goldman]
Please introduce yourself:

My name is Gordon McCall, we’re here in Monterey, California, where I’m a lifelong resident of the Monterey Peninsula. I’m CEO of McCall Events Incorporated, I’m the co-founder of the Quail, a Motorsports Gathering, as well as the Quail, a Motorcycle Gathering, which takes place annually at Quail Lodge and Golf Club. And I’m also responsible for McCall’s Motorworks Revival at the Monterey Jet Center, held each August.

Gordon with his first motorcycle, a Honda CL90. [Angela Decenzo, courtesy of Gordon McCall]
How did you get started with motorcycles?

How I got started with motorcycles is really simple for me to describe. It happened at a really early age: Cycle World magazine was a big influence on me, and when I turned 14, I saw an ad for a Honda CL90 in the local newspaper, and I thought, you know, I need to sell my 10-speed and buy a motorcycle. Never ridden one, didn’t know what they were like to ride, but I knew I had to have one.

That Honda CL90 that I bought when I was 14 lit the fuse for me with motorcycles. As far as I’m concerned, I mean, I think of that bike every day, I get to look at it every day, I still own it. I’m in my 60s now, so it’s been a while, but that motorcycle taught me everything. It taught me how to work on motorcycles, how to ride motorcycles, how not to get in trouble, how to push the envelope and the rules a little bit.

My parents didn’t know I had it. I couldn’t get in trouble, or else the gig was over. So it turns out it’s a pretty common problem, or story, I should say.  That motorcycle has led to, gosh, I don’t know how many motorcycles I’ve owned in my life, but I can’t get enough of them, and I ride, not every day, but I ride today like I did when I was 14.

A ‘wet plate’ portrait of Gordon McCall by the MotoTintype team of Paul d’Orléans and Susan McLaughlin, from 2018. []
Share a great story or experience that could only have happened thanks to motorcycles.

Motorcycling has led to so many adventures in my life, and has enabled me to meet people that I know for a fact I would have never have met without an interest in motorcycling. It’s such a common denominator on so many different levels. It’s such a personal thing, you know, you can’t fake it on a motorcycle.

You either know how to ride, or you don’t. There’s no posing, for lack of a better description. It’s authentic people with authentic passions that are into it for, basically, we’re all into it for the same reason, the independence, the freedom. Again, it’s something that I share with the people that I’ve met. I just feel grateful that I have such an interest in two wheels, and have had the opportunity to meet other people with the same. It’s pretty remarkable.

Gordon McCall, with Mark Hoyer giving the Cycle World award to Shinya Kimura at the 2014 Quail Motorcycle Gathering. See our Road Test of Shinya’s remarkable MV Agusta here. [The Quail Events]
What does motorcycling mean or represent to you?

Well, motorcycling means absolutely everything to me. By profession, I’m technically in the car world, but motorcycles have been a big part of my life, long before cars were, at a very early age, earlier than when I had a driver’s license. What motorcycles have taught me is priceless in my book. Not only the people I’ve met, but also the skills I’ve acquired, and the determination I’ve required. There’s nothing more frustrating than being on a motorcycle that has a mechanical issue, and you’re out in the middle of nowhere. You better figure it out, or else you’re not going to get to there. I credit all of that back to motorcycles.

Typical Quail Motorcycle Gathering vibe, with Gordon McCall interviewing GP World Champions Wayne Rainey and Eddie Lawson, with AMA Grand National Champion Bubba Shobert, in 2023. [Quail Events]
Again, if I wasn’t exposed to that, I don’t know if these other things that have come to me in my life would have happened. The motorcycle is the DNA that has triggered the switch every single time. Continues to, to this day, whether it’s putting on shows, buying, trading, selling motorcycles. I’ve met some of the most interesting people through motorcycle transactions. It’s amazing. There’s so many people that are into bikes that people don’t even know they’re into bikes. You know, it’s kind of a closet thing for a lot of folks. A lot of other people wear it on their sleeve. It’s a complete, wide range of diversity that I feel honored to be a part of.


David Goldman is photographer and filmmaker who has traveled the world on projects documenting human trafficking, maternal health and marginalized people. He also interviews and photographs motorcyclists in this travels for his series The Motorcycle Portraits. You can follow his website here, his IG here, and his FB here. Explore all his stories for The Vintagent here.