ROCKINGHAM, NC, JUNE 21–22—Ahh… the Smoke Out. Just the name of this event brings a smile to my face remembering all of the good times from years past. This year was number 14 and it just seems to get better every year. And if you ask anybody who’s ever been to “The Rock,” as the drag strip venue is called, I’m sure they will agree. The Horse Backstreet Choppers is the main sponsor of the event, but Greg Scheur (a.k.a. Edge of Flat Black Productions) is the man who makes it all come together. Along with his staff, the track officials and workers, they have developed a tight working relationship based on having fun, as well as trying to keep the local cops satisfied, who are pretty damn laid back as to what goes on at the drag strip both in the campground and the track—nice to have officials we can work with.
For those of you who have never been, the Smoke Out is an event based around building and riding custom bikes, whether they be Harley or metric. It doesn’t really matter to anyone just as long as you’re riding and you built it. I have to say that over the years I’ve been going I have seen some amazing bikes as well as some really neat, trick custom parts and designs that have been ridden both long and short distances. This is definitely a riding event where trailers are scorned upon heavily.
Even though this event centers around riding custom bikes, there is no shortage of good-time partying that goes on along with the kick-ass bands that provide plenty of musical entertainment. This year’s lineup of bands included Big House Pete out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, whose bass player is none other than Chris Callen of Cycle Source magazine. This group has been tearing up the scene lately playing from Willie’s Tropical Tattoo during the Chopper Time bike show, as well as the Broken Spoke and anywhere else they are allowed to plug in. And just like earlier in the year during Daytona, these guys didn’t let the crowd down, playing everything from Black Sabbath to Clutch and everything in between—and I must say, sounding pretty damn good at it. And after their set, the guys loaded their equipment, grabbed one of my jars of Alabama shine and took off for Thunder in the Valley in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, for a show the next night. Talk about dedication! Next up was Rebel Son who have established themselves as the band of the Smoke Out. They hit the stage and just flat out fuckin’ killed it. These guys play straight-up “Hellbilly” rock ’n’ roll and they keep the crowd jumpin’ and bumpin’ long after they leave the stage with songs like Bury me in Southern Ground and How Did You Get so Ugly? They are so cool you had to be inspired to invest in a few of their CDs— like I did.
On Saturday I sat in on an acoustic set from another favorite, Jasmine Cain, who sounds good every time she performs. That night Little Ozzy played and kept us entertained with his show—as well as his antics. The headliner that night was Cutthroat Shamrock, a Carolina crowd favorite.
Another event that’s become a staple and crowd favorite is the minibike races. Entry requirements mandate that contestants must wear a superhero costume or a costume of a known character. As you can imagine, there are some pretty funny results from this stipulation. Kevin “Bean’re,” a.k.a. the Mayor of Fun, was on hand—not only to compete, but also to help coordinate the races. While the major honor of winning is bragging rights, trophies by Steve “Brew Dude” Garn are also given to the top competitors. This year’s course included ovals in the track layout in an effort to slow down some of the riders.
Another favorite event is the Painted Lady contest where contestants and their painters get creative with the designs they come up with and the winner is chosen by crowd applause. Some of the more popular designs were patriotic and tattoo related. Either way, the show was a lot of fun and very well received.
The bike show was full of great bikes again with creations that that actually get ridden. And while many will end up being featured on the pages of some magazine, it’s my opinion that every bike entered was print-worthy. But then, what do I know? For the last few years the magazine has also sponsored an Amateur Chop-Off Contest where non-professional builders try their hand at building a bike with progress updates in The Horse leading up to this event. It was great to see the contestants’ completed bikes and hear their stories of how stressful, and sometimes overwhelming, the process was with the reality of deadlines facing them each month—definitely not as easy as it looks on TV.
There was no shortage of vendors this year with a variety of items that were of great American craftsmanship—and actually performed as they were designed. Among those present were Led Sled Customs, Justified Defiance, Speed King, Court House Custom, Boston Mike’s Custom Bikes, Hayseed Cycles, Rusty Nuts Originals and Bare Bones Leather, whose booth display was very cool. The drag strip was also open to anyone who wanted to see what their bike could do, as well as grudge race each other in a ’50s-style race, complete with a sexy flag girl! The event that seemed to be the most popular of all to me was the wet T-shirt contest on both nights that had no shortage of willing participants who put on one hell of a show. I guess if you want to know more about that most “titillating” segment, you’ll just have to come and witness it in person.
But seriously, if you’re looking for a bike party that really has it right, give the Smoke Out a try. I refuse to say the term “ol’ skool” but this party is the way it’s supposed to be… bikes, babes and plenty of beer… you sure can’t go wrong with that combination. Be sure to check them out at www.smokeoutrally.com. And tell them you heard about it from Roadside Marty in Thunder Press. See ya’ll there.