By Tom Christian
This year Laughlin River Run was an action packed week for me from the time I checked in at the Riverside RV park on Monday morning, to Sunday driving home. But it really started before I left for the event, when I was checking out my motorhome and saw an oil leak on my oil cooler line and the first thing I did was call Sam Baldi at Top-Line Industrial Supply and he took care of me. The drive to Laughlin was very relaxing. I spent one night twenty miles out of Barstow and rolled into the Laughlin RV site ready to get to work. There was plenty of time to ride out to Oatman to capture a few good photos and it was a little cooler which made the ride enjoyable. On the way out I stopped at the Black Bear Cafe for breakfast to fuel my stomach for the day’s ride.
Then there was lots of time to take a cruise out towards Kingman to capture some scenic photos for my story. Stopping along the way at points of interest and always looking for that killer shot. I stopped by the Laughlin Bridge where you can see all the casinos farther down the Colorado River and caught an evening shot of them from across the water, reflecting on it like a mirror. It was getting late, it was hot and I was hungry so off to Denny’s to have dinner. On the way back to my RV my bike’s new motor started making odd noises and I was worried about doing harm to it, so I put the bike on my trailer thinking the worst. I called Randy Twells our Editor and told her the news. With the bike problems, I was forced to move on to Plan B.
Plan B Tuesday was walking up the Strip and picking up the press credentials for Shannon Venturo and myself, then hitting the road on foot. Next year I am taking my mountain bike for back-up– and I’m glad the RV site was on the Strip . So off I go to the Harley-Davidson demo staging area to meet the folks over there and shoot a few photos. The people riding the demos were happy that they could ride all the bikes one right after the other. A lot of good looking Harleys on the demo lot. The Honda demo was just getting up and running with their lineup of new bikes. I could not tell you all the cool things that Honda had on display. Next time I will jump on one of them and take it for a spin around the block. I owned a Goldwing back in 1978 and they have come a long ways from then. They were one of my favorite motorcycles back in my younger days and the new Honda line-up is very appealing to check out.
Off to Moto Guzzi and see what’s going on over there and check out those bikes. I have never ridden any of their bikes but they are looking good and the next time I am going to stop and smell the roses. I need to get to know more about the different bikes on the market to get a better understanding of all of them and with all the free test rides, I just need to jump on a few of them. At the Indian demo trailer, they also had a few good looking bikes to take out on the road to feel how they handle. I was seeing the same people test riding all the different bikes out at Laughlin so it’s better to get there early before it gets crowded. Everyone was taking pictures of the Carey Hart bike and it was for sale. I was showing off my pictures of him on from last year and to show people that he actually rode it.
So off to the Colorado Belle to meet Larry Topping who hosts the Ink Mayhem / Laughlin Tattoo Convention event. Larry is a very upbeat guy with a lot of enthusiasm and always has very talented tattoo artists who are very personable and professional. I enjoy seeing all the cool tattoos and watching the customers get their designs put on their bodies. Everyone is very pleasant to talk to which makes that atmosphere very friendly. As I walked back to my RV it was still a little warm, 104 degrees, and glad I put six frozen bottles of water in my backpack and had my Camelbak also. The walk back gave me time to check out bikes and shoot a few more photos, and stop to grab a bite to eat. I wanted to see what Plan C was going to be like on Wednesday and Thursday.
Well Plan C was going to be our Publisher Mike Cupp chauffeuring me around to cover the events of the day and my feet did a happy dance. This was an opportunity to spend time with Mike and get to learn more about our magazine going into the future. It was a blast and we had so much fun interacting with all the wonderful people in Laughlin. The Colorado Belle was the first place we went, so Mike could meet Larry from Ink Mayhem. As we were walking through the casino Mike wanted a picture of himself at the roulette table and boy it was a challenge for Colorado Belle security, as they went out of their way to make that happen. The investigator with the security officers had to oversee me taking pictures in the casino. The pit boss was wearing a leather vest for the Laughlin River Run days and Mike thought it was cool to have a picture with him too. Then we went to the upper floor to meet Larry and his crew with a few photos to boot.
Thursday is Plan D: Finding a bike for me to ride in the American Heroes Charity Poker Run from the Tropicana Laughlin to Mother Road H-D in Kingman, AZ on Friday. Mike made some calls and up stepped Law Tigers’ Marketing Mgr. Brett Bartoli who lent me his personal bike for the next day, which really solved Plan D and set the stage for a great day covering Friday’s events. .
After a day of visiting with some of the folks at their booths, the weather was on everyone’s minds with a few people having to just sit in the shade with cold water. Oh wait, that might have been me! It was hot but everyone was dealing with it. I want to thank our friends at Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys’ exhibit for giving me water and letting me shoot photos. I also wanted to shoot photos of all the different types of bikes out here at in Laughlin River Run and came up with a few that I liked. Lots of trailer-pulling rigs and three wheelers of all kinds, with a lot more lady riders than ever, that my camera likes for sure. Before heading back to my RV, I picked up Brett’s bike to have it ready for a big day on Friday.
Thursday evening was the Harley-Davidson Experience party at the Riverside Resort, put on by the Harley-Davidson Dealers Association of Southern California. On the way over walking though the vendors we ran across lots of folks who love our magazine and wished to have their photos in it. We did hit up the Law Tigers, Americas Motorcycle Lawyers, booth to get a few photos of the military bike and their spokesmodels.
The party had an open buffet with a lot of great people anticipating the raffles which were fun to watch. The Dealers Association also put together a prize package for the 115th Anniversary Celebration on Labor Day weekend in Milwaukee, that Quick Throttle Magazine will use for a contest on our Facebook page which should be fun. Scott Kellerman, GM at Antelope Valley H-D and President of the Dealers Assn. was there, and it was great to meet him and the other folks who were there too.
After the party at Don Laughlin’s Celebrity Theater it was time for the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tribute concert. The Breakdown band lead singer looks a lot like Tom Petty and sounded very much like him. Ryan McDonough, the stage manager, permitted me the freedom on stage to shoot the pictures to cover this concert and I want to thank him for that. Ryan introduced me to the band backstage and gave me the guidelines in which I could work to photograph the concert. The band told me to enjoy and have fun because it is only ninety minutes of your life. So I did exactly that. (In the back of my mind I wanted to do it right and be invited back to cover another show!)
As the band played it put everybody back in time and you could see the enthusiasm in the crowd; it was overwhelmingly enjoyable listening to everybody singing to all the songs.The band did a meet and greet after the show with the fans, who overwhelmed them with love for the entertainment that they brought them. The band members in Breakdown have been together for over fifteen years with a genuine affection for their fans as well as Tom Petty.
Friday QT’s Shannon Venturo our Facebook Live hostess with the mostest interviewed stunt rider Randie Raige at Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys’ booth, Street Vibrations organizers at Leather Headquarters’ booth, Adam Sandoval & Ronda Brown at Law Tigers booth, and had a dance party with Tank, the Law Tigers Mascot. All posted on quickthrottle.com for your viewing pleasure!
For Yours Truly, Friday was WOW Plan E. Everything in place for me to ride in the American Heroes Charity Poker Run from Tropicana to Mother Road H-D in AZ. It did feel great to ride over and be ready to hit the big road to the little city of Kingman. It did not take long for the riders to show up and start getting signed up for the run with their poker numbers to see what they might win at the other end. Shannon Venturo from Las Vegas showed up in style with a couple of her crew from the Bling Devas MC and rocked the house everywhere she went. Yes I had to shoot a few photos of them entertaining everyone. Scott Kellerman and his wife were here again this year to lead the riders out to Kingman with the group of bikers behind them.
On the ride over I was thinking just how lucky I am to do all the things I do and meet some of the people who love to ride and support our veterans; I raised a couple and also grew up with a few of them. As I rolled up to the dealership in Kingman the riders were in line getting a chance to spin the wheel for their poker hand and wishing for the best. With time to kill waiting for them to tally up the results I strolled over to the vendors to check out all the food and gizmos that the vendors were selling. You could hear the band playing on stage and I wanted to check them out.
The Sidewynder Band from Lake Havasu, AZ was playing some CCR and Zac Brown (“Toes”), that got the crowd singing along. I could have stayed a few hours just watching them and listening to the music. The time came to announce the winners of the poker run. 3rd place was Shannon M from WA, with a straight 10 high, won a $100 gift card. 2nd place was Dakota B from AZ with a straight King high which won a $250 gift card. And the big winner David B from Temecula, CA with 7’s over 6’s, a full house, won the Room Package for next year’s Laughlin River Run 2019 Congratulations David!!!
The next little venture was to go meet the good folks at Performance Specialists in Kingman. Thomas Kelly and Debby Frain’s shop blew me out of the water when I walked through it and observed just how clean and shipshape it was, and no surprise as I learned he had served in the Navy. As I was taking the tour through Kelly’s shop I noted equipment that I have not seen in a shop in a long time. The big frame press for removing and inserting bearings, and the milling machines to clean up heads, cylinders, transmissions and shafts. All the digital meters too! The big item that caught my eye was the dyno set-up for trikes. And the room that he has set up for the main two-wheel bike dyno was out of this world.
Kelly also had a couple of bikes that would catch anybody’s eye; one was a dragster and other was old school badass cool. The shop was set up with a very nice tire machine and bouncer for most tires. He lost me when he started telling me about tuning and trying to get the fuel block right. He has a large stock of parts for his main customers that keeps the turnaround time down. And lots of tires. A really nice visit with some great people.
But now I had to get back to Laughlin to return the bike before Brett called the Law thinking I kept riding into the sunset. The ride back was enjoyable, but I missed my Pearl that was waiting for me to trailer her home! Friday evening, Mike and I went to check out the Old West atmosphere at the Pioneer; it was like a midnight mirage inviting the wanderer to stop in and stay a while.
Saturday, back to plan B: Mike Cupp chauffeurs me around. Good thing that the events start later, but we still need to get there early for parking and this is why I am thinking of my mountain bike for next year. Just ride it down and not fight the parking. The folks from Count’s Kustoms and the hit TV show Counting Cars from Las Vegas came out to help with judging the Custom Bike Show. Samantha is Count’s Bike Shop Manager and Horny Mike loves to put horns on everything. Shannon Aikau is the Master Bike Builder; and the last is Michelangelo, aka Ryan Evans the Head Painter.
They added so much to the event and the crowd loved them; they had a great time interacting with everyone. QT’s Tinker Talk tech columnist Justin James was also here and just as much a fan as everyone else. It made photo opps very easy with them out and about with people. They are used to having cameras in their faces.
After Mike Cupp threw some Quick Throttle T-shirts out to the crowd, the judging ended and the announcement of the winners began. 3rd place: $250 was Josh Rundlett the owner of Performance & Machine in Cherry Valley, CA. His 2009 Road King with custom paint from Hot Dog in SoCal took four months to build. 2nd place: $500 went to Danny Gonzales of Riverside, CA His 2011 Road King took two years and it was rideable. Best of Show $750 went to Scott Hill with a 2016 Road Glide with lots of tricked out things including a ProCharger blower and custom paint from Hot Dog also.
The next item on my list was to go watch the Victor McLaglen Motor Corps Stunt Show at the Riverside Resort. Miss Megan looks to be one of the youngest of the bunch and as I was watching and shooting photos, I heard a biker say that he wished he could do what she was doing out there in the heat and looking great, and told his wife he might have to trailer the bike home after watching her. It was funny and they were just clowning around but giving her kudos. Miss Megan is from my family of bikers and wait until you see her own personal motorcycle. I hope to do a story about her and her mother with her other lady riders. One of the bikes went down but thankfully nobody was hurt. Watching them do the stunts in that heat was crazy and it obviously takes a lot of training, strength and discipline. Great show to watch with the family.
WOW the Grand finale of the Laughlin River Run 2018 was the Ms. Laughlin Contest. The judges for this year’s contest were the boys from Count’s Kustoms and Lyonel Gammon, the Director of Licensing and Marketing at Law Tigers. To get things rolling, Mike Cupp threw out some Quick Throttle T-shirts to the crowd here just like at the Custom Bike Show earlier. That got things rockin! To witness this event unfold was very entertaining and all the contestants sure looked like they were having fun. They all seemed to pick on Horny Mike just to see what he’s going to say and he did not disappoint anybody. Even his girlfriend Blake enjoyed watching his interactions with the contestants.
This year’s Ms. Laughlin Contest seemed three times bigger than last year, with the fans more enthusiastic than ever. The emcee asked Horny Mike if he had any questions for the contestants, and Mike’s answer (of course) was, Who was willing to go to bed with him to win this contest? The fans went wild with laughter and I about died laughing. It made for a fun night of entertainment for all. After the show Horny Mike said he knew who the fans like the most and I do believe it was hands-down.
The judges turned in their paperwork and the emcee read off the top three winners. 3rd place $100 went to Samantha Escudero. 2nd place $400 went to Chloe Robertson of Las Vegas, NV. 1st place $1000 went to Sierra Schotts of Torrance, CA. After shooting all the photos of the gals I was backstage, and Blake told me to give her my camera and get in the picture with the Dream Team of Judges, so I did. She was a little cutie and a real sweetheart.
The day came to an end with the drawing for a 2018 Kawasaki Motorcycle giveaway over at the Tropicana at 11pm, and Laughlin River Run 2018 was in the rear view mirrors. Until next year! See you all then!
–See more photos at www.QuickThrottle.com in the Gallery!