Bikes Invade Antelope Valley – Thunder on the Lot

Story by Art Hall with Randy Twells, Photos by Art Hall

Well another good year at another good charity event. Thunder on the Lot had been raising monies for a multitude of children’s causes for 19 years now and has collected about $4.5 million, thanks to all you generous people. Ron and Yvette Emard, owners of Antelope Valley Harley Davidson, work tirelessly to produce a very fulfilling weekend full of a wide variety of activities and entertainment.

The Thunder is created by the hundreds of motorcycles (Harleys) that show up to support the cause and the Lot is a well developed Antelope Valley Fairgrounds. I always like shows that are held at permanent venues as the infrastructure is much more user friendly than that at temporary sites. (read permanent restrooms) Also exhibit buildings, called “Barns”, provide shade and even air conditioning for some relief from the mid-afternoon heat that the news said was about 107 degrees. As well the food concessions are permanent and offer up some pretty tasty items, my favorite of which is enhanced by the smell of tri-tip on the grill. A full bar is also provided in the beer pavilion shaded and misted seating area. Over 100 vendors of all types filled the grounds giving you a chance to purchase merchandise that suited your needs. Or just stroll and look at all the eye candy!

I arrived Saturday afternoon at about 3 pm, the heat of the day, and found a rather light crowd. Most of the roughly 4500 that attended came later that night. Sunday was much cooler at 93 degrees and attracted a much larger crowd of nearly 10,000 which is about what last year’s figures were. Speaking of figures, Ron said about $150,000 was collected to distribute to the over 20 charities administered by the “Kids Charities of Antelope Valley”. Both days were pretty windy and blew out the jumping of Metal Mulisha FMX, supercross, motocross and MMA teams.

Saturday has a $10 admission because name bands perform and this year was the well known “Great White” preceded by Judge Jackson, the Bullfrog Blues Band and MLC. A good size crowd filled the seating area. There is also another stage in the outside car show area that had some pretty talented musicians playing until 10:30 pm. Sunday is free to enter but still features a full main stage of bands starting at 11:30 and going until 5pm. The inside car show is an air conditioned Barn that held some very fine vehicles with serious paint and chrome. These cars just couldn’t be subjected to the dirt and dust blown around by the feisty winds.

Another barn held the Bike Show which is hands-on organized & executed by AVHD’s GM, Scott Kellerman, and drew a fine lot of competitors for the dozens of trophies in several classes. Scott presented the prestigious Best of Show trophy to Sam & Dawndra Baldi for their “Lost Angel”, a labor of love in tribute to their granddaughter who was tragically lost before birth due to their daughter’s miscarriage; the story of their journey last year at Sturgis without Lost Angel was published in our Oct. 2012 issue. Since then, bringing this bike to completion in her honor has been their mission, and she will finally make it to Sturgis for the AMD and Rat’s Hole competitions this summer. Meanwhile, Best of Show at Thunder on the Lot along with other awards in the meantime, has attested to the inspiration she fueled. There was also a special area for custom import cars, boats, and RV’s. Something for everybody with enough to make it a full day. There is also a carnival that ran all day both days with rides and games suitable for adults and children.

Maybe the “Lot” is where the temporary race course was set up for the drifting demonstrations as they created some “Thunder” of their own. I did a very fun ride along, the only problem being it was way too short due to a late schedule. Also on the same course were the big bike stunt riders that performed some unique tricks and even had a female tandem rider on one bike. Both of these had several time slots on both days so you wouldn’t miss them due to the many other things to see and do. The “Lot” shares the burnout pit which was a new event to me as they use cars and not motorcycles. The car is staged on a steel plate used in road construction so they don’t burn holes in the asphalt parking lot.

Sunday started early with a poker run beginning at the Harley Dealership with sign ups from 7:30 until 10:00. I’ll just say that I made it there before the registration closed and learned that a pretty large number of over 300 riders had joined in. Sunday also saw many more locally based booths for childrens activities, a community stage for emerging performers, a Barn full of kids games and of course the trophy presentations for cars, bikes and a Harley-Davidson Bike giveaway.

I’ll wrap it up with a quote from Ron and Yvette. “Our mission remains firm: to help the kids in our community who truly need it most. We are proud to be associated with all of you who support this mission year after year. We thank each and every one of you who have sacrificed time, effort, and financial support to make Thunder On The Lot such an enormous success.

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