By Art Hall
Well another year had gone by and it was time for the annual trek to Las Vegas where “What happens in Vegas” doesn’t always stay in Vegas (Right O.J.?) Fortunately we don’t have to adhere to that mantra and can bring you the scintillating coverage you are all so used to from QT.
I am sure you all remember that last year I had an FLHX Factory bike for the run to Sin City. This year I was still under 5,000 miles on my own ‘07 FLHX and got to put on another six hundred or so carefree miles as the newer bikes are getting to be really trouble free.
I left Long Beach about 8 am on Thursday and the roads were clear enough for me to get to my first stop, 95 miles, at Victorville H-D in less than 90 minutes (do the math, speedwise). I had a cup of coffee and then headed off for the second third of the trip, Baker about 97 miles and much less than 97 minutes (the traffic was moving very well). Some grub at The Mad Greek restaurant and then the final segment of just over 90 miles on in to the city that has too much of everything, by about 1:30. So I had plenty of time from my leisurely ride to take my leisurely time for an early check and leisurely make my way to the event by about 5:30.
Thinking it would be too early to get there at the 5 pm opening I was quite surprised to find nearly every vendor in place and the Vendor Village already buzzing with a curious crowd. Incognito (without my camera) I wandered the isles and perused the 300 vendor booths both inside and outside Cashman Center to get the ‘lay of the land’. The ‘lay’ wasn’t any different than last year so I used the available time to chat with the many familiar vendors and tried to get some fodder for the article. Somehow it was suddenly 10 pm and I found myself being asked to vacate the premises so I opted for dinner and an early night.
Friday was a very full day as Vendor Village was already a beehive of activity when I arrived around 11 am. I surely didn’t want to miss the bikini contest at 1pm and disappoint all the readers that depend on me for full coverage of all the program. This was the night of the Artistry In Iron bike builder competition held in a fenced area inside Cashman. The winner of the hotly contested $20,000 USD first prize went to Fred Bertrand who had to beat some really exotic creations.
That had to be a tough decision for the judges. Friday night was a bash held at the Rio Casino’s Voodoo room on the 51st floor with an awesome view of the strip and the whole Vegas valley. AND the host Mike and Alex, who produce the Bakersfield Thunder Run provided free drinks from 8 pm until midnight. Where does that happen?
Saturday was another full day as I had to visit Freemont Street where the Radical custom bike competition was being held. This year the $5000 first prize went to Roger Goldhammer from the land of the Maple Leafs and RCMP.
Speaking of tough competition, second place was only one point behind. This almost put me behind schedule as I arrived at Cashman barely in time for the Ms. Las Vegas competition. Once again some tough competition for the $1500 first place prize and another stellar effort on my part to bring you a blow by blow of the show’s schedule. This barely gave me enough time to make a brief tour of Vendors and hustle off to Las Vegas Harley-Davidson for the wet T Shirt contest.
It seems that last year the contest was a bit too uhhh “T-shirtless” and strict rules of engagement were enforced under the watchful eye of Las Vegas’ finest (To ‘protect and serve’ us all). Next year guys – don’t use the water repellant fabric, I understand cotton gauze makes a good T-shirt and that it “breathes.”
Saturday night was full of parties so I made my choice to visit the Ice House party hosted by Hot Bike Magazine featuring a raging ‘fashion show’ and lots of complimentary drinks generously handed about. About 10 pm I headed over to Count Customs off the hook concert with Vince Neal as the headliner. Danny, the ‘Count” says he wants to give back some of his success to his followers so the concert is free, the beer is only a buck a glass, and food is a buck a plate. How’s that for hospitality? Russell Mitchell of Exile showed up later in the evening, uncharacteristically dressed in a suit and white shirt, after attending a friends wedding.
There were two Harley’s given away by Hooters and the Golden Nugget that were drawn from the names of those who registered for the BikeFest Package. So what did I miss? The worlds strongest biker contest which you could have caught the following Thursday on the Jay Leno show as I did. Marjorie the cookie lady was covering the Bikefest for Jay and I was lucky enough to meet her at the bikini contest and even got a taste of her award winning ginger snaps, very good. The arm wrestling contest was held again.
Sunday I got up late and did a leisurely checkout so I could make a leisurely ride home. The show was scheduled for 10 am to 2 pm but I had all the dirt I needed to fill the page. I know you don’t need an excuse to go to Vegas but should the need arise save this as your ‘ace in the hole’. It’s a great show in a great city and you have to try hard not to enjoy the “Las Vegas Experience.“