By Art Hall
Some events I look forward to more than others and this is one of the more “look forwards,” the Fourth Annual Bakersfield Thunder Run, presented by Backroads Choppers. MY first thoughts go to the ride down the ‘other’ side of the Grapevine and brace for the ‘how hot is it’ surprise. Well this year it wasn’t blast furnace hot as in past years so I was expecting a more comfortable weekend ( why can’t Father’s Day be in April or September?) Let’s just say this is usually one of the main topics when discussing an event in Bakersfield in the summer. I would rather be warm than cold so the issue is not critical to me and this year, depending on where you were standing, the temperature was somewhere in the 90’s at the peak of the day. Tolerable by most anybody’s thermometer.
I was actually in the peak of the day and not that hot for me when I got to the fairgrounds and checked in getting my credentials. I did however go directly to the hotel to shower up and rest from the grueling two hour ride from Long Beach. Hey I’m getting older.
Actually I was just getting settled and sprucing up for the generous free Angelos Mexican Grill BBQ provided the vendors and builders by Mike and Alex the promoters. When I say “generous” I mean real meat like tri tip and ribs with all the fixin’s, not mystery meat dogs and burgers with chips and a pickle slice. Little did I know there was also an adult-themed fashion show scheduled for after dinner. Nice touch and fortunately I had thought to bring my small camera along for just such a surprise.
Saturday is of course the big day with a full schedule of events to keep everybody busy all day long. Here is a run that is embracing the times by including a car show with the bike show and both get trophies. I have mentioned this before and will undoubtedly mention it again, if it has an engine it is probably of interest to most of us. I think a little cross culture mix is good for the show biz. There were some pretty nice rods in the show and of course lots of fine motorcycles duking it out for first place honors.
Being that the run is held at the County fairgrounds there are lots of facilities in place like paved roads and permanent buildings, not to mention functional loo’s. Some of the fair food stands are open so there is plenty of good grub and suds available.
Along with this civility of infrastructure is the other side of bikerdome, camping, for the hardy enthusiast. The grounds are massive and I think this is a real missed opportunity for developing another aspect of the run.
The Extreme Motorsports Burnout contest is a favorite of mine and was held at this years purpose-built burnout-odrome. There were enough entries to show the crowd how much fun it is to smoke your tire until it blows to pieces of molten rubber so you can push your bike back home. No disappointment this year, to the chagrin of the environmentalists. Meathead, the show MC and a featured DJ from the local Radio station KRAB tried it on a moped to no avail but thanks for the entertaining effort. That ever popular dance troupe, The Purrfect Angelz, was vibrant and energetic in their performance holding a large viewing crowd. And the Budweiser stage kept busy with tribute bands before and after. Fan Halen, a Van Halen Tribute Band played as well as True 2 Crue, the Motley Crue Tribute Band followed up by the Jennifer Scott Band. Music for everybody. In between bands there was another general audience themed fashion show by HowCool.com – I missed the latex review though, bummer.
Of course any respectable run would not hold it’s head high without a bikini show/contest of some sort. Well these guys shine in this department producing one of the most hotly contested competitions of any show I attend. They always manage to acquire a large lineup of deservedly winning, skimpily clad hopefuls. This year was no different and the crowd had trouble deciding who should be the winner of the Valley Boats Bikini Contest as it took several rounds of noise to be sure who was getting the loudest cheer.
Sunday starts off with an optional biker church service, continues as another day of vendor perusal, band sampling, and trophy watching. Lots of trophies went to some really nice bikes. Another year and another good time. Let’s keep ‘em coming.