"The Godfather" and his team of motorcycle stunt riders put on the first of several shows Saturday afternoon in Atlantic Beach.
The Godfather’s real name is Lewis Clark. He’s a motorcycle rider and event organizer. He said he got his nickname when he gave advice to some folks during a charity motorcycle rally in North Carolina in 2007, and it stuck.
Clark said he helped organize the Atlantic Beach BikeFest for several years starting around 2010, and now his team of amateur stunt riders perform at biker rallies, parades, and other charity events.
“We travel all over the East Coast doing stunt shows and things,” Clark said.
On Saturday, Clark had three riders entertaining the crowd.
“I’ve been stunt riding for about 8 years, and I’m still learning,” said rider Kevin Wilson shortly after getting a resounding applause for his “Teacup” trick, which involves laying his blue Kawasaki 636 on its side and spinning it around while doing a burnout.
“It’s dizzy,” he said. “It’s an adrenaline rush.”
Wilson, 44, has been riding motorcycles for more than 20 years, and considers stunt riding safer than riding on the interstate.
“You learn more control of the motorcycle,” he said. “Sometimes you still fall and bruise your leg and stuff like that, but it’s nothing like doing 90 miles per hour on the highway and falling. Right here in this area, we might be going 15, 20 miles per hour.”
Wilson lives in Jacksonville, Florida, but he’s a native of Florence, and said the trip was “like coming home.”
But Wilson hasn’t always been with The Godfather.
He got involved about 2 years ago through his friend and teammate Gauge Farrand of Conway, a stunt rider of 5 years.
“I grew up racing dirt bikes,” said Farrand, who wore a sleeveless grey shirt and green helmet while popping wheelies for the onlookers. “I’m that person that likes to push more and more; more and more. And then I met Jerz, my teammate, and it made me want to stunt ride. We usually do it at Redline, the motorcycle shop on [Highway] 501, but this is the first year we’re out here.”
Farrand himself only joined the team 3 years ago. His teammate Jerz has been a stunt rider for 12 years and has worked with The Godfather for 10 years. They met in Atlantic Beach.
Jerz, a New Jersey native whose real name is Shawn Billich, got involved in stunt riding on the streets, but wanted to be safer.
“I didn’t want to get in trouble,” he laughed.
Billich lives in Myrtle Beach, and his full-time gig is owning a granite shop.
“It’s just a hobby man,” he said of stunt riding. “But we do a lot of shows.”