For 10 years you’ve seen his face on Indian Motorcycle posters and in commercials. But Alec Ferguson is more than just the pretty face you see on nearly every poster in an Indian dealership; he’s a racer and rider like us who just happens to be living a biker’s dream getting paid to ride.
Since 2013 you’ve seen Ferguson’s face usually obscured by a helmet on Indian motorcycle advertisements. Sometimes he’s on a Scout or a Challenger, sometimes he’s at a café with friends, or sometimes he’s taking a break near a scenic overlook. But in every case, he’s wearing an Indian jacket, and an Indian motorcycle is close by.
But Ferguson is more than just a pretty face.
“I wanted to be a road racer, to do Daytona,” Ferguson said. “I worked for a Honda dealership, and my manager raced locally, and he gave me a shot. That is where I met this guy named Ben Spies (an AMA Superbike Champion). I had a pit pass. We were similar in age and he’s like, ‘I got to go do a practice sesh and keep talking to you.’”
Though the two didn’t connect at the track, they did later in the evening at a sushi restaurant where they talked racing. Spies helped Ferguson connect to other racers and teams. Those initial conversations led to Ferguson moving to Houston, and later Austin, Texas, where he got his shot, but not as a racer. “I was a mechanic on AMA and they would let me ride and I would get track days. I slept in more backs of trucks living the racer’s dream.”
Eventually, he was able to start racing: “I was a complete independent, racing for Roadracer Supply on a Ninja 636.”
But, like many racing careers, Ferguson couldn’t keep the sponsorship money coming in and the grueling week-in-week-out schedule took a toll on him. “We ran out of resources,” he said .Indian Motorcycles couldn’t immediately comment on Ferguson’s role, but the company told BikEXIF his riding ability is one of the many reasons he gets calls for shoots. For example, Ferguson said he rides at 70 miles per hour behind photo trucks and has to pilot unfamiliar $30,000 big bikes like a new Challnenger safely around unfamiliar roads.
But Freguson never thought he’s a model. A stint in the U.S. Air Force brought him to Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the United States. When he got out of the military, he started doing what he knew: motorcycle repair.
Then, one day, the shop got a casting call email that a company was looking for models who also ride. “I thought, what in the world is this?” Ferguson said. “I show up, and there’s beautiful people everywhere, and I’m still wearing a Dickies shirt covered in oil.”
As the casting call progressed, they had him try on jackets, pose, and before he could say Yoshimura, he was cast. “This is now my 10th year. That’s how it started,” he said. His first shoot was on a then brand-new Chief near a rural airport.
He said the enormity of the job didn’t set in until he was in an airport and saw himself riding an Indian on the cover of “Popular Mechanics” magazine. “That’s when everything changed,” he said. Since then, he’s worked on campaigns for Red Wing Shoes and even Coors Light.
However, he can’t resist going into an Indian dealership to see a poster with his face on it. Sometimes dealers will recognize him, sometimes not.
“I get people all the time, ‘Is this you?’ and it’s a billboard in Korea or Mexico,” he said.
Ferguson, whose family is from Jamaica, is one of the few African Americans in the industry.
“I want to applaud Indian. I don’t want to speak for Indian, but they want to show the best. Indian has done a great job of diversification,” Ferguson said. “One time I was in a dealership, and a guy came up to me and said, ‘You’ve been my wallpaper for the last six years (on my computer). When I saw you, I saw myself.’ That was amazing.”
“I never thought when I was a kid I’d be inspiring people. I’m a road racer, a dirt biker, and I never thought I could influence that many people,” Ferguson said. “When I was a kid, Eddie Lawson was my hero. Now, people can look at me and say, ‘I can do that.’”