PANAMA CITY BEACH, FLA., MAY 2-6—The first day of a rally can set the tone for the days to come. And the Thunder Beach Kick Start Party held on Wednesday night did just that. It was once again orchestrated from the Shores of Panama Resort, but with a change of venue on the property. Instead of being conducted poolside as in the past, it was relocated to the top floor of the parking deck. This spacious location not only had fantastic views, but also had beer girls, food and a real bar for those of us who like our adult beverage in a red Solo Cup with ice. Riding the parking deck up 11 levels was reminiscent of the switchbacks of Iron Mountain Road in South Dakota—only a lot tighter and louder. There are several other large parking garages along the beach, so maybe this will green light other party venues. It would be unique to PC Beach.

Plenty of ink and fabulous views from the rooftop of the Shores of Panama garage
Plenty of ink and fabulous views from the rooftop of the Shores of Panama garage

Recording artist Jasmine Cain and her band rocked the rooftop that evening with her trademark loud-and-proud rock ’n’ roll. If her high-energy show set the tempo, then Brian Klock and his guys, Dave Sietsema, Tom Austin and Otay Tollefso, from Klock Werks Kustom Cycles out of South Dakota, set the tone. Dave, the general manager, stated how much the Dakotans enjoyed coming south, not just for the weather, but because everyone was so friendly and helpful. From personal experience they get what they give. They are the nicest group north of the Mason/Dixon.

The Klock Werks crew brought along three of their beautiful bikes for their fans and potential customers’ viewing. Two of the bikes were the iconic Farmer Glide and Mint Condition, but the custom Victory Kingpin “Tattooed for Life” bike was really special. It was donated by Victory for a raffle to raise money for Klock Werks’ employee Vic Briggs’ four kids aged 1–9. He was a valued member of the Klock Werks team who died in a car accident just 30 days before Sturgis 2011. Brian told the story of Vic and you can get details on the bike raffle and story at The Tattooed for Life program was founded to remind people to check off the organ donor box on your driver’s license. Vic’s heart saved a young man who was days away from death.

As usual, the first elimination round of the Miss Thunder Beach contest followed the music at Shores of Panama. The rooftop venue proved a

One sexy Road King... and queen
One sexy Road King… and queen

better location than the previous poolside efforts. The second and third rounds were held at Hammerhead Fred’s and the Wicked Wheel. Hooters was featuring two-for-one drinks during the afternoons, as well as $5.99 pitchers and $5 Cuervo margaritas all day. That probably explains the well-attended Miss Thunder Beach final on Saturday night. When all of the parading and prancing was done, Trish Henning walked away with the sash.

The Thunder Beach crew threw a new wrinkle into the mix this spring with its Cruz4Cash, a poker run-style event that had as many as 18 winners. First place paid $3,500 with 10 fifth place winners receiving $100 each. The premise was to have the riders visit as many Thunder Beach supporters as possible and have your Thunder Beach card stamped at each location. You were allowed to buy multiple cards to increase your odds of winning the loot and to possibly offset the cost of your trip to the beach. Dodi McCloud walked away with the big bucks.

Beauty and brawn on display at the Best of the Beach Bike Show at Pier Park
Beauty and brawn on display at the Best of the Beach Bike Show at Pier Park

The Wicked Wheel and The Boar’s Head were added as new venues for this year’s spring offering. The spacious parking lot at the Wicked Wheel held six or seven vendors, along with the Old Skool Road Show featuring vintage bikes and a couple of hot rods. Also on hand was the new Ives Brothers Wall of Death. Patriarch Shawn Ives told me they picked up the wall in Canada from a show that had been discontinued and as far as he knew, they were now one of only two active wall shows in the U.S. They are without question the youngest wall act performing today. Around and around the wall, or upside down in the steel ball, these boys are the consummate showmen. The interior of the Wicked Wheel is all about rolling machinery, including a full T-Bucket hot rod standing on its nose in the bar and bar stools that are the rear sections of various motorcycles. Throw your leg over the nearest V-Twin and order up. The Boar’s Head steakhouse also had several vendors, not to mention it’s one of the best places on the beach for good beef and seafood.

Frank Brown Park was the home of Motorsport Rally Corp vendors Küryakyn, Progressive Suspension, Performance Machine and Mustang Seats. They grabbed their own little slice of greenery slightly away from the midway vendors. Klock Werks also worked from this location where they installed their Flare Windshields for customers to try and buy. Also on hand were returning regulars High Seas Rally, Renegade Wheels, Hawg Halters, The Leather Lady and Ridge Outdoors among others. Revolution Manufacturing was a first-time vendor showcasing their new products for Victory motorcycles. And on top of all that, the fresh-squeezed lemonade and homemade ice cream at Frank Brown was a welcome treat to thousands on this hot and humid weekend.

Most of the rally’s coastal venues had free live music featuring the Dan Lawson Band and King Cotton, along with tribute bands Wall of Echoes

Club LaVela offered up wet and wild times throughout Thunder Beach Spring Rally
Club LaVela offered up wet and wild times throughout Thunder Beach Spring Rally

(Pink Floyd) and Highway to Hell. (You guessed it—AC/DC.) They played all day and late into the night at some venues. For those not into skinny youngsters strutting their stuff, the Shoppes at Edgewater was the place to be during the Ms. Thunder Beach Competition. This pageant is geared for all those beautiful ladies 35 and older. Heather Habeen was queen of the ball with Belle Hess, Cheryl Mills, and Tisha Ramm Meyers also taking home honors.

Club LaVela has fully gotten into the swing of Thunder Beach, not only with its daily pool parties and wet T-shirt and bikini contests, but by bringing in recognized recording artists. This time around they offered TruTV’s over-the-top showman Jesse James Dupree. Direct from the Full Throttle Saloon television show, Jesse and Jackyl, along with his son Nigel, rocked the house with their trademark in-your-face entertainment. Apparently the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree—like father, like son.

Steelhorse Law took over sponsorship of the Best of the Beach Bike Show at Pier Park a while back. Along with many generous manufacturers and vendors, they upped the cash and prize value to $15,000 with a cool $1,000 being dispensed to the Best of Show winner. The now traditional IMBBA-judged show benefits the local Shriners’ charitable projects. The number of bike entries was down, but the ones showing were all quality rides. To add a little spice to the morning sign-up, a couple of the Miss Thunder Beach contestants made the scene to take photos with the bikes and their owners.

Working with several partnerships and organizations, the Thunder Beach Rally makes it easy and fun to help others. Thursday’s poker run was the work of the local Shriners. Friday’s run was sponsored by the Defenders MC. On Saturday morning the Sgt. Kevin Kight Memorial Run was staged on Hutchinson Road and was sponsored by the PC Beach Police and the White Sands Riders. The Red Knights MC and Fire & Iron MC sponsored Saturday’s five-stop poker run.

Many videographers and photographers were on hand this spring to capture the beat of the beach. You can check out to see what you may have missed and to see if your particular moment in time may have been captured. Many thanks go out to the Calypso for putting up with us during our weekend stay. Their strategic location (practically across Front Beach Road at Pier Park) made our stay and travels in any direction a breeze. By the way… they have a garage rooftop available. Any takers for the Fall Rally?



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