If you want your hearse driven by a burly biker in black, you're in luck.
A former Dignity Memorial family services counselor has started a motorcycle-drawn hearse service called Final Ride.
Brian Gray, who has been riding motorcycles since he was 10 years old, offers the service as a way for Oklahoma families to personalize a funeral procession for any loved one, motorcyclist or not.
He saw similar companies advertising in other states, and he wanted to make the “unique, memorable” service available in the Oklahoma City area.
The hearse costs $500 for any funeral within 100 miles of Chapel Hill Funeral Home and Memorial Gardens, 8701 Northwest Expressway.
Gray will travel beyond 100 miles, but he charges $1.20 per extra mile, plus $85 if he has to stay overnight. He offers a 25 percent discount for police officers, firefighters and members of the military, and no base rate for any of them killed in the line of duty.
Gray had his first customer two weeks ago, but the idea has been in the works for a long time.
“It's been a year and a half, dreaming and building and saving,” he said.
He had to save almost $100,000 to get the business going. Six weeks ago, when the two-wheeled, windowed coach he draws behind the motorcycle was finished, he was ready to roll.
Gray has partnered with 15 funeral homes in the Oklahoma City area, with a home base at Chapel Hill. He promotes Final Ride through those funeral homes, as well as motorcycle venues and rallies.
Chapel Hill charges $195 for a traditional hearse, general manager Angie Garner said. But she said Gray's motorcycle hearse offers families a little something extra.
“It's a neat way to individualize the service. … He's done a lot of research, and he takes a lot of pride in his work,” Garner said.
Gray said his company has competitors in Arkansas, south Texas and Missouri. Those include Last Ride Motorcycle Hearse Co. in Springfield, Mo., which lists affiliated funeral homes in central Oklahoma.
Ty Conklin owns Last Ride, whose rates are almost identical to Final Ride's. Conklin said his company has done several processions in Oklahoma City and the surrounding area.
But because a Last Ride hearse has to travel almost 300 miles for a service in Oklahoma City, Gray's service is cheaper for Oklahoma City residents.
Conklin said he started the first Midwest motorcycle hearse company in 2008. He built his hearse when his friend died of throat cancer.
“He said, ‘Don't put me in a station wagon,'” Conklin said.
Conklin decided to charge $500 for the service because he determined that was the average price funeral homes charged for a hearse.
Since then, similar companies have popped up all over the country, he said.
But he said he's glad Gray is getting into the business.
“As long as he's doing it for the right reason, I say more power to him … I'm happy to have someone in the Oklahoma City area who gives a rip about bikers,” Conklin said.
Gray said the feedback he has received about Final Ride has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Everybody that ever sees it, they seem to be pretty impressed,” Gray said.
He said he's glad to be able to provide something special for families. When he drove his hearse in a funeral for a motorcyclist two weeks ago, the man's family was thankful for Gray's service.
“They really loved it,” he said.
It's been a year and a half, dreaming and building and saving.”