Story & Photos by Tom Christian
As the 35th River Run progressed into the weekend, it was now Friday afternoon after the American Heroes Poker Run, and crowds were growing at all the free outdoor venues enjoying the great weather and spring air filled with a sweet rumble. The stunt shows still going at the HD arena, the Ink Mayhem was still happening at the Tattoo Convention in the Colorado Belle.
Over at the Law Tigers Booth I managed to get a few pictures of the gals working there with the military motorcycle & sidecar that everybody wants. It looks like would be fun to watch people’s reaction as you rode it around. As I was walking through all the vendors I saw a lady crouch down and on her back the shirt said, “Ask me about my jugs.” I really did not know what to make of it so I asked her and she showed me, but wait—she showed me these fans that you mount on your motorcycle cylinders or “jugs” to keep them cool. Ok, I got it.
Another nice pastime here is the free outdoor band performances at the Pioneer so off I rode to see them. Walking though the vendors on the way there I stopped to talk with a couple who had the same bike model and color that I have. They were from Toronto, Ontario Canada and wearing a bright orange Laughlin River run shirt that the guy really liked; only his wife spoke English so she translated. I would bet they traveled the farthest to attend this year’s River Run. We all enjoyed the bands playing old school rock n roll and there was also a nice shady outdoor bar (with fun bartenders too) to sit down and hear them play.
Friday night had 2 big concerts- Cheap Trick at Edgewater E-Center and Willie Nelson & Family at Harrah’s. I ended up at Willie Nelson’s show and had fun hearing all the old songs and watching him for the first time in person. Willie Nelson the icon was right there taking us along on his musical road trip. My favorites “On the Road Again” and “You were Always on my Mind” took us all to another place & time.
Saturday morning started out with interviewing Carey Hart for his event, The Good Ride. Where 100% of proceeds go to our military heroes. With family members and best friends that served in our military that hits close to my heart. He told me his wife, the singer known as Pink, should be there next year. We’ll plan on getting a picture or two of him and Pink on bikes– that would be super cool. About 120 riders signed up for the ride. It was very well organized and all the riders were very enthusiastic about riding with Carey.
The Official Laughlin River Run Custom Bike Show was next and crowds were gathering from all over to see this event. Parking was tight with all the bikers looking for any spare slots to put their rides while they check out the show. My favorite was a bagger painted very patriotic themed desert brown and it had “United We Stand” with the American Flag. Joe O’Day did the announcements of the winners but started by introducing a young man Richard Bongos from Las Vegas. Richard built a bike for $850 in a challenge with two of his buddies with the caveat that you could not spend over $1500 and you have to be able to ride it. I was very intrigued with this challenge and his bike was there on display and really cool too. Any event organizers hearing this, here’s a new class/category for your bike shows….
The Best of Show went to Delvon Bailey of Las Vegas for his 1997 Electra Glide that took him about three years and he stopped counting after $50,000. He is an air brush artist. 2nd place- Sean Barulli of Las Vegas for his 2012 Street Glide. Sean is a 53 yr old floor supervisor at a Casino. 3rd place- Brian Beyer of Glendora California for his 1996 Softail. 50 yrs old and he’s in sales. Three years to build and about $20,000 into it. It was very interesting to know how much energy, resources and determination it took to build these bikes.
The Best of Show was indeed beautiful and all 3 were show stoppers. Sean Barulli’s 2nd place bike however had some details that we were curious about—the jewels and designs on the 30” front wheel, on both sides. Sean had a theme in mind, that of the Book of Revelation, depicting ‘Heaven vs. Hell.’ The spokes are swords; on one side the 12 sword spokes have one jewel for each of the 12 Tribes of Israel and the Star of David, and on the other side one jewel for each of the 12 Apostles of Christ and the Cross, with Judas’ stone being black onyx. All the names inscribed in English but in a Hebrew font. The jewels are all real precious stones; precisely cut ovals just for this wheel. Sean’s investment overall, so far over $75-80K.
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Before leaving the Colorado Belle I stopped at the bell desk to meet with a guy who always keeps Quick Throttle Magazine copies out ready for pickup during the run, and was getting ready to retire soon, and only missed the very first Laughlin River Run. Bell Captain Gary Waxler worked 34 years at the Colorado Belle. I asked him what was the most memorable River Run and Gary said they were all crazy, crazy fun. I asked him, what was the one thing he wanted to do when he retires, and it was “go to the beach and play golf.” OK well that’s two things! A good guy and we wish him well!
I headed over to the Riverside to get ready for the Ms. Laughlin contest, this year held at 7pm instead of 4pm as in prior years. So I had a few hours to see the folks at the Indian motorcycle demos along with Honda racing team. I was having a little fun with the reps at both of them while taking pictures with potential buyers. It was a little warm so I walked over to get something to wet my whistle and stopped to watch the people having fun on the mechanical bull. If the operator did not want you to stay on you did not have a chance but he was easy on them for the most part.
The time has come to watch the Ms. Laughlin show with all the excitement that goes with this contest, at the Riverside Resort Bodies Bar Outdoor Stage. I met Joe O’Day to get ready to throw out Quick Throttle T-shirts to the crowd. There were two gals there from last year and one of them won Ms. Laughlin two years ago. As the MC was introducing all the ladies you could feel the excitement and hear the crowd’s enthusiasm. The judges got down to five ladies left up on stage after asking all of them questions that were a little embarrassing but fun to watch the crowd reacting to their answers.
We had a surprise visitor who thought he was a contest coach for the ladies and had to be asked to leave, but came back. The crowd booed him away so he crawled out on the floor right up to the feet of the officer that asked him to leave the first time. He looked up at the officer and just said, “Oops..” I couldn’t help laughing, nobody was hurt and the show went on. First place: Megan Campbell of Riverside, CA 21 yrs, works in a thrift store. 2nd place: Regina Boca of Albuquerque, NM 31yrs, pre-school teacher. 3rd place: Samantha Escondero of Santa Paula, CA 27yrs. a Dancer. A popular event as always! Followed by a drawing also at the Bodies Bar at 9pm for a 2017 Indian Scout Motorcycle. Lots of stuff to enter and win at River Run.
The big final event was the drawing for that 2017 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic at 11pm at the Tropicana. That was the last event of the 2017 Laughlin River Run. Robin Rudkin the Casino Events Manager set me up with a step ladder right in front of the motorcycle display so I could take pictures of the crowds of people waiting to see the winner. When they tried to announce the winner’s name the microphone would not work so I yelled out the name over the crowds and the winner was only about 20 feet away playing the slot machines. Mary Russell of Yucaipa, a 73 year young Lady, won this beautiful motorcycle. She told me that she was going to give it to her son Roy who was right there with her. Everyone was very happy for them both. What an amazing week in Laughlin, somehow it was midnight, time to ride back to my motorhome-away-from-home to get some sleep.
Now that my event photo agenda was done, Sunday was my day to go hit the road on my beautiful Harley. So I rode out to the London Bridge in Lake Havasu to have lunch and take some pictures and to Oatman for a super ride in the mountains with great weather and back for a BBQ steak. All in all I did put almost 400 miles on my Harley for the week on photo patrol and on my Sunday ride. I slept like a baby Sunday night; early Monday it was time to pack up and load all my gear & Harley and head out– as Willie Nelson would sing, ON THE ROAD AGAIN….
And you know, time IS the road, get on it, or you’ll miss it!–See more photos from River Run at www.quickthrottle.com in the Gallery!